Yes, Saturn affects people’s lives.
If you are undergoing a particular Saturn period, the period is going to affect you and your mind. However, does Saturn always affect us in a bad way? No! Don’t think that the Saturn period is always bad.
If you are on the spiritual path, he (Saturn) can be good for you, he will elevate your life. If you have dispassion, he will help you more. If you are not on the spiritual path, he will create a problem so that you get on the spiritual path.
If you are caught up in the worldly life, he will trouble you so you get out of there and find the bigger wealth inside you.
If you are too attached to something, Saturn will try to remove that attachment and push you. This is what happens to most people: they lose their job, relationship, reputation, they lose everything. Then they start searching, trying to figure out where to go? And then they come to the spiritual path!
So, Saturn will either give you inner wealth or outer wealth. If you are stuck to the outer wealth, he will push towards inner wealth. If you have inner wealth, he will give you outer wealth. He will give you more things outside.
Saturn takes 30 years to take one circle around the Sun, so it stays for around 2.5 years in each constellation or zodiac sign. The period can extend up to 5 years or 7.5 years. This is why people feel so desperate; they have a problem with their relationship, money, job, all sorts of problems for 2.5 years to 7.5 years.
A Saturn period comes only twice in a lifetime, not more; maximum twice. It comes once in 30 years, so two times for 7 years. When it comes the second time, it is not that severe. One finds it very severe the first time, you feel so bad and the mind goes down, nothing feels right. This is when Jyotishi (astrology) comes to help. If you know that you are going through a particular period, then you wait for time to pass. You turn spiritual, you do more meditation, and all the practices that uplift you, elevate you, pull you through that tough period.
Again, it need not be bad for everybody. If you are already well established in the path, then it can give you lot of success also. It is fascinating to know about all the different planets, their nature, their effect, and their impact.
The planetary positions give indications; again, you cannot say that it will happen 100%. They only give an indication because there is always a grace element that can change anything, anywhere, anytime. This is the reason for spirituality or sadhana being a step higher than this knowledge.
Astrology is knowledge, it is a necessary knowing. However, there is something more remedial. Sadhna(spiritual practices), Satsang, Devotion, are all remedial measures that help.