We live, every day, in our bodies. It let’s us get around on our legs, using the body and arms, and we’re in the body, day in and day out, all life long. Intellectually much of our life plays in our heads, this is where we think about life, and pursue much of our functionality. We also feel the full range of our emotions in the body.
A distinguishing characteristic of Yoga is that it has a single concept for the body and the mind, the bodymind, with no separation of the two aspects. Yoga practice is all about being in the body, not primarily in thinking mode, or overrun by emotions. While it does not suggest that one should stop using the intellect, or suppress emotions, it encourages attainment of a calm, inner peace as a harmonious state of the bodymind.
Yoga requires physical practice as well as reflecting. It helps us understand well-being, and experience it. It helps put thoughts and emotions in perspective, and uncover a more pure or specific aspect of self. The conscious self in yoga is the self aware being becoming aware of itself as a sleeping person living in the material world.
Yoga understands that every thing that is is a part of a greater whole, a universal life force, Prana. An individual being is at once an aspect of all that is, while “containing” all that is. Fusion of the two aspects create the feeling of inner peace, a non-dulaistic oneness when bodymind harmonizes with all that is. A specific state of consciousness, which is why yoga works with the body and the mind as one unified aspect, and as a reflection of, or aspect of the whole, and as the whole.
Typically this is why I’m writing this blog such as this – it’s hard enough to put these ideas down in writing, let alone explain them, in brief, in a class. And these concepts are certainly best when understood or felt, rather than intellectualised. It can be no other way – yet the thinking mind, rightfully so, demands logic, order, realism, and so on. So there is often this kind of situation that goes on in my head when I teach classes! As I have more ideas and thoughts about yoga practice I can share with my students while teaching, writing helps me share and explore some. I might have, had I the time, been writing a blog post for every class!
Here follows a few thoughts I wanted to relate to the opening of this blog, and a something that occurred to me in a recent class. For some reason I remembered my visits to psychologists – it would have been in context of treatment of the mind, which is traditionally in the Western world the domain of the psychologist.
I went to a psychologist twice in my life. Once, when I was a child, I guess I was 14 or so, because my mother thought I needed help, and once, I was about 30, when I thought I needed help. Both times did help me tremendously. These visits were important for my self-understanding, the basis of holistic healing.
I still remember the childhood psychology guy, he seemed genuinely distraught for me, and came to a quick conclusion about my problem. His comments about who I am stayed with my, to this day, I think he saw me very clearly. Or perhaps we are just such stereotypes that a skillful psychologist can read us easily. I didn’t want to go back for “treatment” though, I didn’t feel at that stage there was that much to be done about what it was like, “being me”. The insight stayed with me, and that mattered, and still matters.
In any case, our past comes back to haunt us, unless we transformed whatever chased us then, it’ll come and bite you in the ass, and keep biting. So one day some 20 years later I thought it a good idea to speak to someone who again help see myself more clearly than I could see myself. At that stage I was well into a full-time mission on the path of self-discovery and a process of self-transformation, using insights from all kinds of therapies and primarily yoga practice. I was finding meaning in life, involved in music and yoga for a few years already, having opted out of an ordinary job and settling into a full time alternative lifestyle.
I was n a serious mission to find healing, or be healed, to understand myself, and reshape my life. I guess, part of it was seeking cures for the childhood afflictions that motivated my mom to take me to the physiologist. I was constantly looking at and feeling and changing the dysfunctional me that I was as a child, and still was, or am. In retrospect the process sometimes seems like way too long a period of time, at other times it just seems like a necessary process, simply one that requires time. The adult psychologist also did a commendable job at helping me see myself more clearly. I completed three sessions, providing more clues and insights about who and what I am, to keep me engaged in the full time project to uncover and clarify more of myself.
I think the reason why I started writing this is because I mentioned something in a class that triggered a whole lot of memories of a part of the process of self-discovery I mentioned. I had an insight of what both psycologists must have seen when they worked with me, and what they might have meant by their feedback. Their insights suddenly helped me to see a part of me clearly, I could joint the dots between how I was then, and how I have become.
All I really wanted to say with this post is that it is useful to have awareness of what forms us, and how we may practically use this awareness to find the tools to more usefully shape our lives. And that yoga is a brilliant technology to let us see ourselves more clearly, and help us shape our lives more effectively, because it works on the body and the mind, and the emotions and feelings involved in living.
Yoga helps us to take responsibility for ourselves, in the body, so we can take better care of ourselves, mentally and emotionally, to transform our lives with greater consciousness.
I hope this makes some sense and help you a little with a more meaningful practice of yoga.
With blessings and love,
27 August 2014