Knowledge Center

Welcome to American Institute of Vedic Studies's Knowledge Center presenting articles on Yoga, Ayurveda, Mantra, Meditation and Vedanta by Dr David Frawley a.k.a. Acharya Vamadeva Shastri, Yogini Shambhavi and other associated scholars.

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Inner Self-Awareness and the Mind-Body Connection

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Inner Self-Awareness and the Mind-Body Connection
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Whatever you bring into your mind, you also bring into your physical body. What your mind does, affects both your psychology and your physiology. If the mind becomes afraid, for example, the body contracts in fear which affects our internal organs. If the mind becomes angry, the body also seethes with anger, overheating our organic functions. If the mind gets attached to something outwardly, bodily movement is also obstructed.   The vibration of the mind sets the rate for the vibration of the body. This is a question of energy, not mere chemistry. If our mind is hyperactive, our physiological systems become overstimulated and overactive. If the mind is dull and slow, then the body also becomes dull and lethargic. The mind is the background guiding power behind all physiological functions; not that this occurs consciously or by choice, but it happens automatically according to the inherent mind-body connection.  

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Why India’s Ancient Rigveda Remains Humanity’s Most Important Book

The Rigveda is the oldest of India’s ancient Vedic texts, extending back to 3000 BCE or earlier. It is our doorway into the mind of the ancient Rishis and sages who were said to have created the paths to higher Consciousness at the beginning of this world age. Today in the twenty-first century, the Rigveda remains of profound relevance, providing not only keys to the origins of civilization but a cosmic vision that transcends all time, connecting humanity to the power of universal creation. The Rigveda is the oldest surviving text from the ancient world, which best preserves the voice and message of our ancient ancestors and spiritual guides, lauded in many ancient traditions throughout the world. As such, it forms a unique living link with our ancient origins and our spiritual ancestors. The Rigveda is a massive and diverse teaching, containing over one thousand hymns and ten thousand verses

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Ayurvedic Implications of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

We will explore the extensive relationship and vast interconnections between Yoga and Ayurveda, focusing on the Yoga Sutras. This examination extends to important issues of Yoga sadhana, Yoga therapy and Ayurvedic healing. Yoga, Ayurveda and related Vedic disciplines have more connections than usually acknowledged, particularly in the West. We cannot understand one of these systems without the others. All are part of an integrated stream of higher knowledge as Vedic knowledge or Vedic sciences. The Yoga Sutras arises out of the Vedic tradition of ancient India, with Yoga as one of the six schools of Vedic philosophy. Yoga is coupled along with Samkhya philosophy, but is widely followed in Vedanta. Yoga is a broader topic than Yoga Sutras, reflected in various schools of Yoga in the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Tantras and the dharmic schools of philosophy in India, Vedic and non-Vedic. Yoga is rooted in Vedic mantras starting with OM.

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Vedic Counseling and Ayurvedic Psychology

Vedic counseling forms the background teaching for any education, guidance or therapy in the Vedic field. This includes Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedanta, Jyotish, Vastu and Sanskrit, along with the principles of Vedic living overall as karma and dharma. It extends to mantra and meditation to heal and uplift the mind.  Vedic counseling  provides the integration for all Vedic disciplines and reflects how they have traditionally been applied together. Yet today, particularly outside of India, people usually follow one of these Vedic disciplines without being aware of its connection to the others. Vedic and yogic teachings have come to the western world in bits and pieces – not as a single though many-sided tradition. The result is that individuals may be more aware of a particular guru, yoga technique or Ayurvedic doctor than the background Vedic tradition as a whole or the importance of Vedic Counseling. Vedic Counseling addresses the whole life

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Yogic Neuroscience: Developing the Soma of the Brain and Beyond

Soma is part of a vast cosmic symbolism in Vedic thought. It cannot be reduced to a single plant as some scholars have proposed. For every Agni or form of the cosmic fire there is a corresponding Soma, water or nectar. In the human being we have access to special powers of Agni or higher perception and special powers of Soma or states of samadhi. The ultimate Soma is Ananda or the bliss of pure consciousness. The brain can secrete powerful chemicals that can bring about extraordinary changes in body and mind. While drugs can be used to substitute for these, the brain’s own chemical functioning can be transformed directly through cultivating a higher awareness and deeper prana. For this to occur the mind must become silent and the brain merely serve to reflect it. This can connect brain function to the subtle body and chakra system. The brain’s secretions

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The hidden truth behind Sri Ganesha’s mystic image

Ganesha is said to be the remover of obstacles, which he is most energized to accomplish on Ganesh Chaturthi. Sri Ganesha is one of the oldest and most revered Hindu deities, as well as the most distinctive. His head of an elephant, enigmatic stories and rich symbolism make him recognised worldwide. But what is the hidden truth behind his mystic image? Few seem to know. Great yogis know Sri Ganesha as the lord of the universe, the underlying cosmic intelligence that links us to the supreme reality beyond all name and form.   Ganesha’s guiding power Ganesha is the first of the gurus who guides us. He is invoked at the beginning of all Hindu rituals as he aligns us with the benefic powers of the universe. Ganesha’s vehicle, the mouse, indicates his respect for all creatures great and small. Gana means a group and Isha or Pati means the

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Consciousness, the Ultimate Power of Knowing and Healing

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Consciousness, the Ultimate Power of Knowing and Healing
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Modern physics is searching for a unitary field of consciousness to explain the coherence of the laws of nature. Such a universal consciousness is proposed as existing behind all time, space and energy. It is the ultimate frontier of knowledge. Vedic teachings have long taught us how to discover such a unitary field of consciousness within us as our true Self behind body and mind. Knowing that Self one transcends all sorrow and gains immortality as the Upanishads eloquently state. Knowing our inner consciousness is the highest goal of life and the ultimate power of transformation. Consciousness as the Foundation of Vedic Counseling and Education Vedic knowledge is based upon a recognition of the primacy of consciousness as the foundation of the individual and the universe, which mirror each other, and teaches us how to access it from various angles. The primary factor in all Ayurvedic healing, Yoga and Vedanta

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Psychological Immunity and How to Measure it

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Psychological Immunity and How to Measure it
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We all know the importance of physical immunity. This is our ability to resist disease, ward off pathogens, endure the dualities of heat and cold and seasonal changes, have physical strength and stamina, slow down the aging process and heal our bodies from within relative to injuries or chronic diseases. It is indicated by positive health and wellness. But what is psychological immunity? It is similarly the ability of the mind to resist disease, ward off emotional toxins, endure the dualities of gain and loss, joy and sorrow, attraction and repulsion. It means to have enduring mental strength and stamina, slowing down the aging process for the mind and memory, steady concentration and balanced emotions, without agitation and sorrow. It is indicated by a positive attitude in life, fearlessness, contentment, Self-awareness and creativity.   Just as physical pathogens like bacteria and viruses abound in the external world, so mental pathogens,

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Beyond all Addictions through Yoga and Vedantic Practices

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Beyond all Addictions through Yoga and Vedantic Practices
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  Addictive Nature of the Mind   There is a simple way to overcome all addictions, but not easy. It is to learn how to calm and control the mind. All addictions are compulsive patterns of the mind that we fall into when we fail to be fully aware.   The difficulty is that deep seated addictions cannot be overcome merely by occasionally countering them with a more focused awareness. Countering addictions requires a steady daily awareness, ultimately a moment by moment awareness for full mastery of the mind. We must hold our consciousness in a state of witnessing the mind, rather than identifying with our thoughts as we normally do.   The prime teaching of Yoga and Vedanta is transcending the conditioned mind (chitta) into unconditioned awareness (Atman or Purusha). This involves learning to observe the mind and its movements, just as we can observe objects and events in

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Consciousness and the Brain

  The human brain, for all of its complexity, is not itself conscious. Most of its functions are unconscious or subconscious. The brain is but a physical instrument of a deeper consciousness that transcends the material world, the Atman or higher Self of Yoga and Vedanta. Scientific research into the human brain has revealed the extraordinary workings of the brain, how it regulates our mental expression and bodily functions throughout our lives. The brain is like a world of its own filled with intricate circuits, currents and interchanges. Yet the brain is not the light of consciousness but only a means of its physical manifestation. It works at largely an autonomic or subliminal level, governing organic processes within the body and nervous system, with our self consciousness only a surface action. The light of the higher Self is first reflected through the mind, which is a subtler level of reality

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Ayurveda and Vedic Counseling: What is the Relationship?

Vedic Counseling includes Ayurvedic Counseling at a wellness level, but has a broader scope of concerns that includes Yoga, Vedanta, Jyotish and Vastu, and addresses all aspects of our lives.   There are two primary models of Ayurvedic practice available today in the Ayurvedic field. The first is a clinical model aimed at the treatment of disease, much like other primary health care practices and the work of doctors of various types. The second is a counseling model aimed at teaching the principles and practices of right living, wellness and longevity, a more educational approach often connected with psychological issues.   Clinical Ayurveda   The clinical model of Ayurveda includes powerful Ayurvedic herbs and clinical therapies like Pancha Karma. It aims to diagnose and treat serious diseases. The BAMS Ayurvedic doctor program in India, emphasizes clinical Ayurveda. Many western Ayurvedic programs aim at developing clinical Ayurveda.   Yet the clinical

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Ananda: What is its True Meaning?

Ananda is one of the key terms of Yoga and Vedanta, and like many of the others often misunderstood. Ananda is translated as bliss, though it has no real equivalent in the English language. Bliss is at best a helpful approximation but can be misleading.   Ananda is composed of the prefix ‘aa’ indicating superlative nature, and nanda meaning joy, happiness, contentment or delight. In other words, Ananda refers to the deeper and timeless dimension of happiness, not just a higher degree of the joys that we normally experience in life.   The first thing to understand is that Ananda is not a dualistic emotion. Ananda is not a high that is connected to a low. Ananda is a non-dualistic state of awareness, Chidananda.  It is a unitary state of feeling/knowing/seeing and being, in which we can experience the essence, peace and delight that is the ground of all existence

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Why Guru Purnima is unique to Hindu Dharma

Many religions honour their founder or great teacher in various ways. Hindu dharma is perhaps unique in honouring the guru or spiritual master as a principle in itself beyond any particular personality, philosophy or revelation.The true guru is a position of spiritual guidance, the illuminating presence of a higher awareness. The guru is not limited to any physical person, however exalted he or she may be.

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The Great Goddess and World Mother (Mahadevi) in Vedic Astrology

  Mahadevi, the Great Goddess, has many names and forms in Jyotish, the Vedic astrological science of light. These range from her overall cosmic influence to specific associations with planets, signs, Nakshatras and phases of the Moon. In Hindu thought, the Goddess is the Mother of the Universe from whom the origin, sustenance and dissolution of everything arises. She governs over the whole of time, as past, present and future, and all of space. As the Supreme Mother, the Goddess cannot be limited to a single planet, sign or astrological indication. Her influences occurs on many levels and in many dimensions, coloring all the forces of the universe, which are manifestations of her Supreme Shakti. She possesses all the forms of the feminine nature, as well as all the forces and creativity of life and light. She is also formless, extending to the original matrix of time and space. We

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The Power of Prana in Yoga and Ayurveda

  Yoga and Ayurveda constitute a way of life that allows us to arrive at longevity and immunity, and to provide the basis for the pursuit of Self-realization and Moksha. Their approach to healing is based upon right values, right behavior, and right relationship with our natural environment and humanity overall.   The medical side of Ayurveda is important for the treatment of disease. The wellness side of Ayurveda remains relevant to all and interfaces with the practices of Yoga, which aid in wellness of body and mind. Yoga therapy (Yoga chikitsa) is an integral part of this Ayurvedic wellness approach for body and mind.   The link between Ayurveda and Yoga in terms of wellness (svastha) is Prana.   In Ayurveda, Prana is the motivating life force behind the three doshas or biological humors of Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water), which are the prime factors both determining

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Articles on Ayurveda

Ayurvedic Implications of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

We will explore the extensive relationship and vast interconnections between Yoga and Ayurveda, focusing on the Yoga Sutras. This examination extends to important issues of Yoga sadhana, Yoga therapy and Ayurvedic healing. Yoga, Ayurveda and related Vedic disciplines have more connections than usually acknowledged, particularly in the West. We cannot understand one of these systems

Read the complete article >>

Consciousness, the Ultimate Power of Knowing and Healing

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Consciousness, the Ultimate Power of Knowing and Healing
/

Modern physics is searching for a unitary field of consciousness to explain the coherence of the laws of nature. Such a universal consciousness is proposed as existing behind all time, space and energy. It is the ultimate frontier of knowledge. Vedic teachings have long taught us how to discover such a unitary field of consciousness

Read the complete article >>

Consciousness and Immunity

Consciousness and Immunity Strong immunity is the basis for physical and mental health. It has ramifications outwardly relative to our social order and natural environment, and inwardly for our own deeper awareness. This includes karmic factors at individual and collective levels. A good immune system requires an expansive connection to Prana as the healing force of

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Everyone Should Learn Ayurveda

Ayurveda is a science and yoga of right living that can be widely used by everyone. Everyone can benefit from learning the basics of Ayurveda as part of understanding one’s body and mind, how nature works and the deeper Consciousness behind the universe.   Ayurveda has always been an integral part of Vedic education and

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Ayurvedic Astrology: Hinduism Today

Ayurvedic Astrology: Hinduism Today   With the Covid-19 era focusing humanity on wellness more than ever before, we present a little-known branch of knowledge—medical astrology. By Vamadeva Shastri, first published in Hinduism Today Magazine   Seeking knowledge: OUR HUMAN LIVES ARE GOVERNED BY the same cosmic forces that rule over the universe as a whole.

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Pranayama and Immunity

  Prana upholds the immunity of both body and mind. This power of prana is not simply the breath, with which it is related, but the deeper vital energy that sustains our entire embodied existence. Prana forms the subtle or energy body of the chakras, which gives life to the physical body, but also transcends

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Meditation in Yoga and Ayurveda

Meditation is the key practice of traditional Yoga and the prime factor behind an authentic Ayurvedic lifestyle. Meditation goes to the root of our consciousness and prana, connecting us to our higher Self and aligning us with the healing and transformational forces of the greater Self-aware universe. If we don’t meditate daily we lose our

Read the complete article >>

Articles on Yoga

Ayurvedic Implications of Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

We will explore the extensive relationship and vast interconnections between Yoga and Ayurveda, focusing on the Yoga Sutras. This examination extends to important issues of Yoga sadhana, Yoga therapy and Ayurvedic healing. Yoga, Ayurveda and related Vedic disciplines have more connections than usually acknowledged, particularly in the West. We cannot understand one of these systems

Read the full article »

Why Guru Purnima is unique to Hindu Dharma

Many religions honour their founder or great teacher in various ways. Hindu dharma is perhaps unique in honouring the guru or spiritual master as a principle in itself beyond any particular personality, philosophy or revelation.The true guru is a position of spiritual guidance, the illuminating presence of a higher awareness. The guru is not limited to any physical person, however exalted he or she may be.

Read the full article »

The Power of Prana in Yoga and Ayurveda

  Yoga and Ayurveda constitute a way of life that allows us to arrive at longevity and immunity, and to provide the basis for the pursuit of Self-realization and Moksha. Their approach to healing is based upon right values, right behavior, and right relationship with our natural environment and humanity overall.   The medical side

Read the full article »

Yoga as Samadhi

Yoga is defined as Samadhi in the Yoga Sutras. Yet few Yoga practitioners know what Samadhi is or how to approach it. But without understanding Samadhi one cannot understand Yoga in the true sense of the term. Samadhi is complete coherence and composure of mind, the mind fully united with the power of seeing, so

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Shakti, the Yoga Sutras and Patanjali

Some scholars state that there is no mention of Shakti in the Yoga Sutras. This is incorrect. Shakti is the last word in the Yoga Sutras that sums up its entire teaching and defines its goal as the realization of the Purusha. It suggests what is referred to as Kundalini Shakti in other Yoga texts.

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Vairagya, Non-attachment and Ananda in Yoga

  Vairagya is one of the most important terms in the Yoga Sutras, which starting from the first Sutras of the text is emphasized as defining Yoga practice.  Vairagya is commonly translated as detachment or non-attachment. While these indicate aspects of Vairagya, they are approximations that can mislead us. Vairagya is an untranslatable term like

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Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Asana

Raja Yoga commonly refers to the royal or higher Yoga of meditation. While the term is not specifically mentioned in the Yoga Sutras, the Yoga Sutra tradition has been commonly called Raja Yoga over time. Raja Yoga is an ancient term found in the works of Adi Shankara. It aims directly at a change of

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Mauna: The Yoga of Silence

Mauna as the Secret Silent Limb of Yoga Mauna refers to the practice of not-speaking, and one who does this regularly is called a Muni, a sign of great respect in Hindu and yogic thought. While not-speaking is an important part of Mauna, it is much more than that. Certainly, most of us would be

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Releasing the Knots of the Heart: Hridaya Granthi

Yogic literature, starting with the Upanishads, speak of the knots of the heart and the necessity to release, cut or break these in order to free ourselves from ignorance, death and sorrow. This is necessary to realize our true Self that is one with all, which dwells at the core of the spiritual heart. It

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Yogic Pratyahara and Psychological Immunity

Pratyahara Yoga   What is the main Yoga practice we can do for developing our psychological immunity, emotional calm, and inner equipoise in these difficult times? First, we must note that the principles and practices of Yoga overall are about mastery over the mind, so they all aid in psychological immunity, resilience, and the ability

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Shiva Ayurveda – The Yogic Power of Healing and Transformation

We follow an ancient tradition of Shiva Ayurveda connected to the Himalayan domain of Shiva and the great Yogis, including Yoga traditions from Kashmir to Uttar Khand and Nepal, but with connections throughout India. ******* Most Ayurvedic practitioners look upon Lord Dhanvantari, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as the deity of Ayurveda and ideal doctor.

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Articles on Meditation & the Mind

Transforming Emotions through Pranayama and Meditation

Which aspects of our nature are emotions rooted in and how can we best understand them? Emotions are most connected to Prana in yogic thought and have their roots in pranamaya kosha, the Pranic sheath that mediates between body and mind.   Emotions are based in instincts, notably hunger, thirst, survival and reproduction, which are

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Meditation in Yoga and Ayurveda

Meditation is the key practice of traditional Yoga and the prime factor behind an authentic Ayurvedic lifestyle. Meditation goes to the root of our consciousness and prana, connecting us to our higher Self and aligning us with the healing and transformational forces of the greater Self-aware universe. If we don’t meditate daily we lose our

Read the full article »

Yoga and Ayurveda View of the Mind: Audio

American Institute of Vedic Studies
American Institute of Vedic Studies
Yoga and Ayurveda View of the Mind: Audio
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Yoga and Ayurveda View of the Mind Audio In modern medicine brain, mind and consciousness are equated, with the mind regarded as only a function of the brain, and consciousness merely a function of the mind.  Mind and consciousness are reduced to brain chemistry, as if there were no real intelligence or real person there.

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Mantra, Concentration and Meditation

  Concentration and Meditation   To reach the meditative state, concentration is required first. A scattered, distracted, and inattentive mind cannot truly meditate, even if one sits silently for long periods of time. As the Yoga Sutras teach us, one must first develop the one-pointed mind (ekagra chitta) in order to reach state in which

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Articles on Jyotish (Vedic Astrology)

Lord Vishnu and Vedic Astrology

Vishnu is the primary Devata for the Sun in Vedic thought, notably in the form of Surya-Narayana.  Narayana is the cosmic form of Vishnu who rules over the entire universe. The mantra – OM Namo Narayanaya! – is a mantra of sadhus and connects us with the supreme Consciousness. It can be used to draw

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Lord Shiva in Vedic Astrology

Lord Shiva has a central yet complex role in Vedic astrology, associated with a number of planetary energies, though he has specific planetary associations. We will explore these from my years of research in Vedic texts and Shaivite Yoga.   Shiva and the Sun and Moon   Shiva’s connections to the Sun are powerful and

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Ayurvedic Astrology

All great ancient civilizations centered their cultures on profound systems of astrology, connecting conditions and events on the Earth with cosmic influences deriving from the stars. Whether it is India or China, Egypt or Babylonia, or the Mayas and Incas of America, we find in each case an astrological foundation for their spiritual cultures. Astrology

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The Milky Way and the Cosmic Soma

An indepth study of the Vedic Understanding of the Milky Way and the Zodiac Soma and the Orientation of the Zodiac The key to the meaning of the signs of the zodiac should be evident from the orientation of the zodiac itself. The most dramatic factor in stellar observation for any person is the Milky

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