Ask Ananda’s Experts
Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

Category: Health and Healing

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m
india

Question

Hi!

Did Yogananda give any diet suggestions for people suffering from colitis?

Thanks!

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Yogananda stated that one cause of colitis can be Vitamin B deficiency. He suggested the following food sources of vitamin B: wholemeal flour, whole barley, whole unpolished rice, oatmeal, rye, nuts, eggs, milk, peas, beans, lentils, and yeast. Vitamin B is also present in small amounts in nearly all fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes and spinach. Because Vitamin B is soluble in water, care should be taken to use the water that vegetables are cooked in. Better still, steam your vegetables.

In his book The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda wrote, “Basically, what is necessary for all stomach [i.e., digestive] ailments is the elimination of poisons, and the stimulation of energy in the stomach, through fasting, better diet, and right exercise.” Concerning colitis specifically, he wrote: “Colitis, like most stomach ailments, is usually associated with some nervous disturbance. Concentrate on curing not only the effect, but also the cause. The postures and breathing exercises, and above all meditation, can gradually restore one to a state of harmony, physically as well as mentally.”

Blessings,

Gyandev

Cooking in a Microwave
November 19, 2013

Oleg
Russia

Question

I often heat up my family’s food in the microwave. It is so convenient.

However, many people who practice yoga recommend me not to use the microwave oven.

They argue that the microwave destroys the quality of the food.

What can you advise?

Regards,

Oleg

Initiated into discipleship this year.

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Oleg,

I once read about a research that was done comparing different methods of cooking vegetables: steaming, sauteeing, baking and using a microwave. Kirlian photography was used, which photograph the magnetic field (aura) of the objects, in this case vegetables.

Before cooking, the raw vegetables had a nice bright aura around them.

After cooking in different methods the aura shrank a bit, but was still there. The only method of cooking that the aura was completely diminished was after using microwave.

From what I read, microwave does destroy the molecular structure of foods.

You can try a simple experiment: boil a cup of water in a microwave and another cup of water on the stove. Taste each one and see if there is a difference.

I don’t use a microwave myself, unless there is no other choice.

Blessings,

Diksha

Sleep and Depression
October 24, 2013

Leigh
USA

Question

What happens to the soul when we sleep? When I am depressed, I find it very hard to get out of bed — it is as though I can go on sleeping even though my body has surely had enough rest! Are there any spiritual benefits to sleep? Is the tendency to sleep biochemical secondary to what is released during depression? Thank you.

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Leigh,

Nothing happens to the soul when we sleep: it is ever-perfect. What changes is our level of consciousness, as we (usually) go into a subconscious state during sleep. Our awareness retreats partially from the senses, and our energy becomes more centered in the chakras. This gives body and mind an important rest, enabling us to make better efforts—physically, mentally, and spiritually—when we awaken, as well as have a generally better outlook on life.

So yes, sleep is beneficial on many levels. Too little sleep, said Paramhansa Yogananda, is harmful to the nervous system. Sleep is particularly helpful for the heart and digestive tract. He also said that one who aspires to develop uniformly and steadily in spirituality must always keep the body quiet and not in perpetual motion and restlessness.

One can get an even better rest through deep meditation, to the extent that highly advanced meditators need to sleep very little, if at all. But the rest of us need some sleep to rest and rejuvenate ourselves.

Yes, depression can make it difficult to get out of bed, and not only because of its biochemical effects. Depression can engender pessimism, despair, and hopelessness, which rob a person of energy, and thereby incline one toward needing more sleep.

I pray that you will soon find your way out of that insidious illness.

Blessings,

Gyandev

Sameera
India

Question

Is tea or coffee bad for spirituality like alcohol? They cause addiction too.

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Sameera,

It depends on the effect they have on you. If you find tea or coffee addictive, then like anything else that is addictive, it will weaken your willpower—and a strong will is vital to your spiritual life.

On the other hand, some people enjoy tea or coffee without any significant side effects, spiritually or otherwise.

So it’s up to you to answer honestly for yourself: Are you just as free with tea and/or coffee as you are without them? Then proceed accordingly.

I should add, however, that most of us have much larger issues to deal with in our spiritual life than addiction to tea or coffee, so don’t make too big a deal out of this. If tea or coffee addiction is the only thing holding you back, spiritually, then you are in great shape!

Blessings,

Gyandev

irfe
italy

Question

Hello

I have some suspicious physical signs that can indicate a very serious disease — multiple sclerosis. Even though I am far from being diagnosed I really struggle to stay positive. I try to meditate but am often distracted by some symptoms. I feel like my life would end if I get diagnosed. I know this is not the right attitude and I must try harder. Would appreciate your wise advice. Peace and blessings.

Mary Kretzmann

Mary Kretzmann

Ananda Village

Answer

I am sorry that you are having these struggles. It will help you to go to a trusted doctor, and get a diagnosis so you can know what you are dealing with, and start on the road to getting well! Stare this karma straight in the eye. You can also do positive things for yourself, including a healthy diet, meditation and yoga. These will help you no matter what, and they also can specifically help multiple sclerosis.

It also helps many people with MS to go on a completely gluten-free diet. A study in Spain found that rates of celiac disease among multiple sclerosis patients are 5 to 10 times higher than rates for the general population worldwide. (Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten, and it is often the underlying cause in many autoimmune diseases.)

Please also do this affirmation daily. Focus at the spiritual eye, and say this three times with determination:

“I will with my own will, which flows from the Divine Will, to be healthy, to be well, to be prosperous and spiritual, to be well, to be well.” —Paramhansa Yogananda

Please also submit a prayer request, and this can help your healing process directly, and also indirectly by supporting your journey of discovery.

God bless you,

Mary Kretzmann

Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry

PS — Please click on all the great links I provided for you, above, to get a jump-start on your healing journey.

GNP
USA

Question

A devotee just was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and has begun mood stabilizing medication. Although the episodes are mild, kriya tends to put her into mania. This person always found it difficult to spiritualize activities. Depression typically follows her during the day. She has always thought it was her fault that she couldn’t live joyfully and maintain a kriya practice. How should she approach an inner life?

Nayaswami Devarshi

Nayaswami Devarshi

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear GNP,

I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Bipolar disorder can improve over time, through working with a doctor and also working with meditation. Having worked with many hundreds of Kriya Yogis over the years, this type of situation is the one where I recommend the most care. Kriya practice shouldn’t cause mania, or the manic side of bipolar condition. If it does, then one shouldn’t practice the Kriya technique. Hong-sau and other meditation practices can be very helpful for calming and centering the mind, along with balancing the extreme ups and downs that you mention.

That said, I’ve seen that the best way to work with the Kriya technique when the mind is so extremely fluctuating is to practice it more with a sense of devotional self-offering, and less with intense willpower. Even then, one should be careful to be watch one’s mood and do only a moderate amount of Kriya.

I have seen people who have been diagnosed as bipolar and started medication eventually find the right balance of medication and meditation. In every case, though, people should be working with their doctor instead of trying to use meditation only, as a form of self-medication. It may take your friend some time, but it is certainly possible and even hopeful. Physical activity and an attitude of karma yoga in one’s service can also help change the balance of karma that causes mental imbalance.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about a year and a half before he came onto the spiritual path, and he told me the following:

In the beginning it was very challenging for me to meditate, but I worked with an Ananda minister to figure out ways of adjusting the techniques that would help me be more grounded. Certain spiritual practices did make me feel unstable, particularly in the beginning, so I backed off from those and just did what I could. Always I have taken medication and still go in regularly for testing and check-ups, especially if I seem to be in a challenging time. I saw a therapist for years and with many people it would also be good to do that regularly. I feel stable now, but it is basically by God’s grace that this is possible. Ultimately meditation has been a great aid to my mental health and spiritual life.

He added that these teachings were very helpful because they help us become more balanced and centered over time.

Sometimes people feel that they can dispense altogether with medications and replace them entirely with meditation. Do this only under the guidance of your doctor. Several years ago my wife Maria told me an interesting story. While she was out for an evening walk at Ananda Village she met a woman who seemed extremely distraught. Maria approached her to see if she could help. After some discussion, Maria realized (intuitively, I think) that the woman was having some sort of mental episode, perhaps due to thinking that she could stop taking medications because she was visiting a spiritual place.

With some strength, Maria asked her, “Did you stop taking your meds!?” (“meds” are medications) The woman responded with a surprised, “Yes” – and said she thought she didn’t need them since she was visiting Ananda and meditating more. Maria made the woman promise her to go back to her room at our retreat center, The Expanding Light, “Right now!” and take her medications.

About a year later a woman who I didn’t recognize came up to me at The Expanding Light. She somehow recognized me as Maria’s husband and asked me to give her a message: “Your wife saved my life.” The woman had apparently been feeling such despair that she thought she might take her own life.

So, someone with bipolar disorder should continue to work with their doctor, while they also tentatively and over time introduce a meditation practice into their lives.

The grace of God and the Guru also enters into the picture. By opening ourselves up to their grace, it’s possible to cause changes in ourselves that would seem impossible.

Remember, every spiritual effort that we make will bear fruit in some way. Unlike worldly endeavors, no spiritual effort is ever wasted.

You can also have your friend contact me, if they like, and I can put them in touch with someone experienced in these things that can help them.

with prayers for your friend,

devarshi

To Age Gracefully
September 3, 2013

Simran Joshi
India

Question

Is there any way to look fresh, youthful and energetic forever? Meditation gives calm but doesn’t always help to look young. I have seen many people who meditate but don’t always look young.

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Simran,

The question is, how to age gracefully, not painfully. As you live a dignified life, in alignment with God, with appreciation for others, with joy, with gratitude to God for the gift of life, you will radiate divine joy.

Your consciousness is who you really are; looks mean very little, other than the look in the eyes. Strive to have a fresh, youthful, energetic consciousness, and express it through your eyes. For more insights read Yogananda’s book: How to Achieve Glowing Health And Vitality. Please click on this link: http://www.crystalclarity.com/product.php?code=BHTAGHAV

Blessings,

Diksha

Rusha Verma
India

Question

Hi Mary! Thanks for your answer to my question.Can cracked relationships be healed?" We can talk out as you said if our loved ones are near. But what do we do if they are far far away and out of touch for over 2-3 years? Can such relationships be healed too with patience, diligence and prayer? Does the universe respond to our prayers and love?

Mary Kretzmann

Mary Kretzmann

Ananda Village

Answer

If this is a romantic relationship and you have been out of touch for 2-3 years, and you are the injured party, I suggest that you focus your prayers on releasing the person and the memories into God’s hands. Let it go, especially if it only reached the romance stage, but had not yet progressed to marriage, and no children are involved.

If however, you are the one who created the most pain and injury, it is very worthwhile to offer many prayers of healing, not to restore the relationship outwardly, but rather to make things right with God, and with the person’s soul. At some point you will leave this world and review those events in which you hurt others, feeling the pain from their point of view. Heal that. You can use the techniques that I listed in the original post — (linked above).

Healing energy can be sent across the globe, and even across time to loved ones we have known in past lives. There is no limit, except our own motivation and dedication to the process.

God answers all prayers. Restless prayers, however, He answers only a little bit. If you offer to others something that isn’t yours to give, won’t that be a merely empty gesture? If you pray to God, similarly, but lack control over your own thoughts, that prayer will be without power. Thoughts and feelings, both, must be focused when you pray. Otherwise God will meet your little trickle with another trickle of His own! He will dole His answers out to you in a teaspoon. Too often, prayer is more like the halfhearted mumbling of a beggar than the confident, loving demand of a friend. Meditation Wisdom from Paramhansa Yogananda

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