Hi, today I am writing about diseases and cure from a Yogic perspective. I am going to answer 1) whether Covid can be cured through Yoga and 2) can we do something to save lives in these troubled times. For this article, I am going to draw insights from yogic literature and am grateful to the great rishis and yogis for that. I am also going to rely on my personal meditative experiences to arrive at answers.
Before answering the questions, first let us understand one of the very useful ways to look at the human body; one which finds its mention in the Taittireeya Upanishad.
Human body is divided into 5 major sheaths/layers:
Annamaya or our physical layer, our body
Pranamaya which is loosely translated to energy layer for the purposes of this article
Manomaya which is our mind
Vijnanamaya which is our intellect
Anandamaya which is our bliss body
These 5 layers cover our pure core being called as the ‘Self’.
Now, let us understand a bit about these layers and especially from a disease perspective:
Here is how Yoga cures. Yoga says every person contains these layers, but is not aware of the deeper layers like Anandamaya and Self. Yoga says as we learn to dwell upon the core layers of our being, the diseases disappear. Remember, as we move away from the outer layers to the inner layers the diseases – it could be any disease – disappear. Actually, the whole Yogic system is to help us realise and dwell upon the inner Anandamaya and the Self. Yoga says, if we access these layers and are able to sustain them, then one is disease free and worry free with infinite happiness throughout life. Well, I know I am making sweeping statements, but allow me to explain below with the help of layers.
Self is our pure ‘impression-less’ being. Impressions can be imagined as creative forces of the world that create the perception of the world for us. These include space and time impressions, memory, imaginations, experiences, hereditary, conscious and unconscious impressions etc. So Self is beyond time and space and is completely impression-less. It has no diseases and is pure. We all have this Self.
In the Anandamaya layer, we have core impressions and we can feel bliss/infinite happiness in this layer. These impressions could be imagined as seeds of our experience of life. In other words, Anandamaya consists of core impressions that are seeds of our experience of life: ability to think, feel emotions, to experience physical reality, to use intellect etc. These are very much seeds however, and they germinate into discriminatory power of intellect in the next layer – Vijnanamaya.
In Vijnanamaya, one could imagine the seeds in Anandamaya germinating into our perceptional ability to classify things or our ability to discriminate using our intellect. Using Vijnanamaya, we classify things as the outer world and I, we classify cats and dogs, we discriminate day from night etc.. So here in this layer we have moved away from absolute bliss and are able to ‘classify’. In addition, Vijnanamaya is also the moral compass which classifies things as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. So for sake of imagination one could say the seed has grown into a small sapling having the discriminatory power of ‘right and wrong’ in Vijnanamaya.
In the next layer, that is in the Manomaya, there is further growth of our sapling. The classifications which we were able to make in Vijnanamaya are further labelled here into likes and dislikes by our mind. That is in the Manomaya, we associate likes and dislikes to the classifications. Yogic texts and meditative experiences say that the root of all diseases, except infections, is this classification of thoughts into likes and dislikes in the Manomaya layer. For example, when one sees a dog, one labels it as whether one likes or dislikes it, one watches a flower vase and labels it as like or dislike, one watches a car and one labels it as like or dislike. This labelling causes negativity within. One may have liked something, but remember at the same time one would have disliked the opposite of it. This labelling causes stress reaction to situations and if this labelling continues on and on, then it aggravates into diseases. I don’t like my home, my looks, my car etc. If we keep the labelling within a limit, then the plant grows into a beautiful experience of life where thoughts can create a beautiful mind experience. However, if we lose control and start classifying all things as likes and dislikes, then the same plant grows into a weed or a disease and starts killing us from within. Manomaya is the thought layer, if we label too many thoughts into likes and dislikes, then it is the place where the seeds of our impressions germinate into harmful diseases.
Yogic texts say that the diseases developed in above way include bronchial asthma, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, gastro intestinal ulcer diseases, atherosclerosis, seizure disorder, heart disease, lung disease, mental retardation, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, substance abuse, lumbago, spondylosis, sciatica, carpel tunnel syndrome and so on and so forth. Which particular disease comes to which person depends on the kinds of seeds/impressions pre-existing in the mind. These can include hereditary and environmental factors.
So one could imagine a diseased weed in the Manomaya started by likes and dislikes, slowly growing into a strong plant and further into a tree in the Pranamaya and Annamaya layers. For example: in Manomaya one can feel psychological and behavioural symptoms of stress like irritability, disturbed sleep etc.. In the Pranamaya the plant grows into appearance of physiological symptoms like tremors, hypertension, damage to the internal organs concerned with the disease etc.. Finally in the Annamaya, the disease has physical manifestation like stomach ulcers, visual impairment, chronic hypertension etc.
These diseases can be cured by using Yoga and meditation to move away from Manomaya towards Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya. The chronic likes and dislikes that have been developed are erased using Yoga and meditation. If you do little Yoga you can move from Manomaya to Vijnanamaya, if you do more then you could jump into Anandamaya or even into Self which are completely disease free states. Infact, Yoga says physical Yoga mainly cleanses the Annamaya, Pranayama mainly cleanses the Pranamaya, Pratyahara/drawing senses away from the likes and dislikes of sense objects mainly cleanses the Manomaya, dharana and dhyana mainly cleanse the Vijnanamaya and Anandamaya etc. In reality, any one of them can help us move towards Anandamaya, though specifically acting on one or more layers.
Infectious diseases like Covid have a different solution in Yoga:
1) Strengthening our immune system: There is enough evidence and scientific research today that shows Yoga is effective against immunity
2) There is also another solution to Covid situation and that is to move into Anandamaya layer. This layer has got only core impressions and therefore the body would avoid developing the impressions that compromise immunity and therefore the body is free from any non-communicable disease as well. The person in this layer is always blissful and is free from diseases. However, Anandamaya layer cannot be achieved in a day. It requires regular practise of Yoga and for some it may take a few days and for some, a few years depending on – how much steeply immersed one is in likes and dislikes – regarding the things of the world.
So, if an infectious disease like Covid is already in you, it means immune system is already compromised to a certain extent and therefore Yoga is not a complete cure solution unless you have tremendous sadhana/practise to shift yourself to Anandamaya anytime you wish. So in these situations I would humbly suggest you to take necessary medical help and not rely on Yoga at the last moment. So, let’s say one has 104 degrees centigrade fever. Then Yoga needs the help of medication in the last stages and one cannot meditate in 104 degrees fever to move to Anandamaya. Medical help is required.
However, after infection, in order to hasten the recovery process, together with medical treatment one could perform Yogic techniques. There are plenty of examples of people who have recovered faster from Covid by practising Yogic techniques. The logic is pretty simple: as one moves towards Anandamaya, by how much ever miniscule amount, the disease symptoms progressively die. Covid is especially harsh on people with existing medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease etc. Yoga can considerably alleviate these symptoms and therefore increase the chances of recovery.
At this stage, it is important to remember why our immune system got compromised in the first place. Our immune system is compromised because of we having – moved away from Anandamaya layer – and the solution is to move towards it. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to do the necessary Yoga and meditation to save lives around us. So this whole article can be summarized into ‘move towards Anandamaya and cure yourself’.
What is the proof for this article’s claim? Apart from any number of Yoga research papers and Yogis statements, a simple proof is to do this experiment right away and find it out yourself. Stop classifying all your thoughts into likes and dislikes or right and wrong and instead just observe them as they come and go. Do not judge thoughts into right and wrong or whether you like or dislike them. Perform this activity for 15 minutes. Let the thoughts come in and just observe them without classifying them. After 15 minutes, you will see that your mind has become happier, with lesser worries and you feel better than before. You can take guidance from any number of Yoga and meditation experts out there who can guide you with this process more accurately. Just remember each one of them is effectively trying the same, that is to move you closer and closer to Anandamaya layer and the Self.
Also, the goal is not to go deeper and deeper in the layers; not always anyways. Any layer can open up to Anandamaya and Yoga gives enough techniques and methods enter into Anandamaya from other layers. Karma Yoga helps you enter into Anandamaya from Annamaya and Pranamaya, Jnana Yoga helps you enter Anandamaya from Vijnanamaya and Manomaya and Bhakti Yoga helps one enter Anandamaya through love and surrender which are again deeper Manomaya and Vijnanamaya layers. This apart from Yoga, pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana and dhyana states explained above. Summarizing, these layers are not deepening mysteries which are to be necessarily traversed one after the other, but one can also jump from any layer to any other deeper layers through Yogic techniques
Finally, directly answering can Yoga cure Covid? Yes, if ones practise is in advanced stages, where one could enter into Anandamaya and this is for advanced practitioners. Otherwise, one has to resort to medication and doctors and Yoga can aid medication, through improving immunity and hastening the recovery process. Summarizing, if one already has Covid, Yoga can cure faster and can work together with medication and that is unless one is an advanced Yogi who can cure oneself completely. If one doesn’t have Covid yet, then Yoga can help avoid Covid completely or can minimize Covid damage whenever it occurs by boosting the immune system. The same argument can be extended to other diseases. If the disease is in extreme situation definitely seek medical help. Use Yoga to augment medical treatment, since medical treatment doesn’t necessarily completely cure many diseases and Yoga can cure them. If the disease is in beginning stages seek a Yoga experts advice together with medical practitioner’s advice and develop a practise which can help one enter deeper layers.
Some common perceptions that are not true:
- One prevalent perception is that there is no cure for diabetes, heart diseases etc. And one has to take lifelong medications. Yoga says enter into anandamaya and there is your cure. Yoga asks you to experiment with Yoga and meditation and find it out yourself
- Another prevalent perception is that stress is good for progress in life or a healthy amount of stress is required to do well in life. This perception has made people accept stress as part of their life. But Anandamaya layer ‘which is within us’ is a stress free layer and absence of stress means the person has more clarity on what needs to be done as well as more energy to do it. So naturally higher performance in any given task says Yoga
- Another common misconception is that Yoga heals slowly and other forms are better. First let us talk about ‘Yoga heals slowly’. Well, there are plenty of instances of Yogis getting completely healed from diseases in a very short time. The degree of healing in Yoga is directly proportional to ones ability to let go of harmful patterns (say likes and dislikes) we hold in our minds and in deeper layers. Some people are highly attached to these patterns and they take time to heal, while others are loosely attached to the patterns and therefore, they let go easily. So, Yoga can miraculously heal in a day or even take 10 long years depending on the degree of attachment we hold to the patterns of life. Next we will see whether other forms are really better and fast. Most of the treatments we have today treat till the first layer or the second layer, leaving the disease seeds in deeper layers as they are. So, let us say diabetes is minimised, then the seeds of diabetes will still be there in the deeper layers and they will grow again or they will germinate into new diseases. So although other forms of treatments cure diseases to some extent, they are not holistic, in the sense – they don’t remove the seeds of disease that are sown in deeper layers. This is because the chemical and radiational treatments that we give the bodies are mostly effective in the first two layers and maybe a little in the third layer. However, the deeper layers will still have the seeds and only through Yoga we can effectively access these layers and remove the root of diseases. In the deep forms of meditation one can observe the core impressions and treat them to find complete cure for any disease. So other forms, though they treat diseases, the seeds mostly remain and germinate into other forms and the person will not be disease free – this is because of the failure of other forms to treat the core layer.Ending this with a few final remarks.
When I started Yoga, coming from the scientific way in which I was educated I thought this is impossible. However, I took the true scientific spirit and decided to experiment and slowly realised as meditation got deeper that yes, this deep Anandamaya layer does exist. Please note the inner layers are very subtle layers and are therefore almost immeasurable. One has to experience the deeper states to Anandamaya layer to believe them. So please don’t go by my word and rely on your own experiences. You could try the simple experiment I proposed earlier in the article. In advanced stages, kindly seek help from an expert since these stages can be quite puzzling sometimes.
Does an Anandamaya person have no likes and dislikes at all? Well, he/she has, but they don’t appear for long periods and aggravate into diseases. So in effect, one is able to enjoy the life even more because impressions don’t convert into harmful patterns/weeds. Anandamaya has impressions, but they neither have right and wrong or like and dislike and if at all they are present they are very temporary. Finally, the Self cannot put into words, it is beyond the mind and intellect and can be quite stupendous and magical, if explored with sincerity.