Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system – the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. The body’s defense systems attack the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers in the central nervous system, and the damage can disrupt nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord, causing a variety of symptoms such as muscle weakness and spasms, difficulty moving or balancing, fatigue, chronic pain, and problems with vision and speech. Those diagnosed with MS typically experience a gradually progressive deterioration of neurologic function, and there is no known cure.
Frank Nafey is an Isha meditator who was diagnosed with MS 17 years ago. He shares below how his practices have helped him manage his disease and enjoy his life.
“I have had MS for 17 years now. When I first received the diagnosis I was quite devastated. I was a runner and had always been very physically active from the time I was a child. As a matter of fact the first sign I had of MS was when I was running a 15-kilometer race and my right leg started dragging.
At the time I was in the middle of a successful career as a Risk Manager. I had just taken a job with a large corporation in New York and now I didn’t know if my health would continue to hold up. My job was very demanding and I had to travel around the United States. I was starting to limp more frequently and I tried to hide it from my coworkers and my bosses as much as a possible. In 2000 I switched careers and became a high school teacher. I was starting to limp more but I still had enough energy to continue working.
Then in July of 2002 I took my first yoga class with Sadhguru. And since then I have been doing the Shakti Chalana Kriya on a daily basis. I have tried different medications over the years meant to control the MS. I am not certain that they have really had any effect. The one thing I am sure of is that the practices I learned from Sadhguru and Isha have helped me to maintain my health and prevent the disease from spreading more quickly to other parts of my body. I have not been ‘cured’ of the MS but the disease has been limited to affecting only my right leg. I walk with a cane now and do have limitations as to how long I can stay on my feet. I have discontinued all of the MS medications and only take muscle relaxers to help with the stiffness in my leg. Also I just retired from my teaching position last year because working was becoming too difficult for me. Being retired allows me to take better care of myself. I eat better and I can now devote 2 to 3 hours to Hatha Yoga and Kriya practices each morning.
Although the yoga practices I do have not cured me of MS, I am able to live a complete and happy life. I am able to care for myself and am able to do all the things I need to do. If not for these practices, I am certain I would not be doing as well as I am. Clearly the practices have given me the clarity of thought and the inner strength necessary to make the decisions I have made and continue to make in my life. What a blessing it is to know that I can turn to my practices and experience peace and contentment regardless of the circumstances that surround me.
My doctor is surprised at how well I am doing because men with MS at my age (I just turned 57) tend do worse than women. One thing the practices have helped me with is the anxiety and fear I had living with MS and not knowing what the future held for me. It is amazing but I am far happier now even with MS than I was before I had the disease. My close friends and family are puzzled as to how I can do all I do and not be “stressed out”. I’ve explained to them that the practices I do are what keeps me going. I still have difficult days where I don’t feel that well and where anxiety shows and I lose my patience. But that doesn’t last long if I do my practices and I continue the spiritual work I need to do.
Of course I would like to be physically cured of MS but in some ways I have already been cured. In the Isha Kriya practice, one of the most basic programs given to us by Sadhguru, we see that ‘we are not this body and we are not even this mind.’ If one truly absorbs this teaching, nothing that happens to us can make us fearful, anxious or depressed. So that is the ‘cure’ Sadhguru and Isha yoga offers. And yes I still believe that a physical cure is a possibility. But that is secondary to what has been given to me by Sadhguru.”
If I Only Will
You let down a ladder that leads to the stars and beyond,
If I will only climb it.
You speak the eternal truth of the past, the now and the future,
If I will only hear it.
You pulsate with the life of creation,
If I will only feel it.
You give sustenance beyond the need of the body,
If I will only partake of it.
Empty this glass
So that I may be filled with your water.
Empty this mind so that it may be filled with your thoughts,
Empty me of me
So that I may be filled with you.
Sadhguru, Sadhguru, Sadhguru