what is it that heals?

(using devotional practices, mantra and visualization)

photo courtesy yasodhara ashram

The vibration created by mantra, prayer, pranayama and other devotional practices has a healing effect by creating calm and relaxation and by releasing negative emotions, whether you do the practices for yourself or for the benefit of others.

While it is not possible to understand all the complicated causes of illness, and these practices are not recommended as a substitute for medical treatment, a relaxed mind is a great tool for the healing body. But you must know why you want to be healthy and what you will do with the remainder of your life if health is restored.

Your ego may want to hold on to ill health for reasons you are not conscious of. Many factors may interfere when you do spiritual practices for healing. You may hold an unhealthy belief that you are too great a sinner to deserve to be healed. You may be hurting others without being aware of it and unconsciously punishing yourself for their pain.

You may have a lesson to learn and so healing may not be what is best for you. It may be necessary to go through illness in order to have the time to reflect, to develop humility and devotion and to overcome selfishness. Illness may not be a punishment but rather a learning process, an opportunity because you have been too duty bound.

The complexity of the human mind and its capacity for pain is tremendous and we must beware of oversimplification. Pain is a great teacher, but we must understand its message and deal with that before the way is clear for health to be restored. Perhaps physical healing can take place only after the mind is healed.

A person becomes what she or he thinks. If you think you are a failure, you will become a failure. If you chant mantra, you will eventually realize your Divine nature and there will be little room for sickness at any level – physical, emotional or mental. Surrender to the mantra and to the energy that comes from it. In particular, chant hari om, the healing mantra named for Hari, the healing aspect of the Divine. Give strength to the part of you that wants to be well and permits healing to take place.

You cannot always know the purpose of illness but you can offer a prayer, chant mantra or visualize someone in the Light. When you do this, see the person well and healthy, never as ill. Be certain you are acting out of compassion, not sympathy. Be aware of any desire to influence the outcome or any strong emotional response. You must keep out your own will, surrendering to the mantra or the Light.

These are powerful practices that through their vibration attract spiritual power. You offer yourself as a channel that the power may pass through you to the sick or injured person and do what is needed. Do not demand healing or tell the Divine how to do it. We do not know what karma is being paid off. Desire to be of help because help is needed rather than for rewards or for sentimental reasons.

What is it that heals? Remember that you are not the healer. It is the Light that heals, not the intellect. Imagine yourself as a channel, giving support and direction to the Light, just as electricity flows through a wire to reach its destination. Faith, hope, trust, a will to live and a purpose are all important to generate in addition to spiritual practices.

In the process of healing we meet ourselves. When you see and forgive your own failings, you will be ready to forgive the failings of others and have more understanding of those you wish to heal. The search for healing brings many aspirants to the spiritual path.

When being treated by medical practitioners, always see them as channels for the Light. And see yourself cooperating with the laws of nature. Help yourself and others unfold according to the Divine plan. Sometimes healing simply occurs when a person learns the Light is real. But it is very serious if the person does not follow through after healing by changing his or her life.

Surrender is the very essence of deep relaxation when a person is more receptive to healing energy and positive messages that replace traits such as stubbornness, which is really misdirected willpower. All too often our will seems to be powerless to eradicate traits that we ourselves recognize as undesirable. Through your reflections a clear conscience can be achieved and you are ready to receive intuitive wisdom and healing during relaxation.

Gratitude is one of the strongest powers and the finest emotion that a human being is capable of. Be grateful for what you have, right now, right where you are. If you are not grateful for what you receive, you will lose it. Do not waste this life. Cultivate gratitude, for it brings many blessings.

Excerpted from a new book of Swami Radha’s writings on light and vibration, to be released autumn 2005 by timeless books.

A pioneer in bringing yoga to the West, Swami Sivananda Radha is the author of 10 classic books on yoga, including Kundalini Yoga for the West and Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language. Her teachings focus on developing awareness and quality in life.

  read more of swami radha's past columns

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