Yoga, a Spiritual Psychology

Road to Wellness

As a means of psychology, yoga teaches that no healing can be complete and lasting unless in its solution we've come closer to the Divine. Otherwise, we find our self in the same predicaments over and over again — and each time our heart will yearn for us to break this cycle.

Without a holistic approach such as yoga, we usually try to fix this yearning with rationalizations that try to change the endless wants and needs of the ego. (This is usually what our friends and licensed psychologists will try to help us do as well.) Although this can be needed to some degree, it can only go so far before it gets trapped and repeats itself endlessly. It's a cycle an adept yogi might refer to as self-inflicted slavery.

One of the ultimate goals of yoga is to get the sufferer to realize that he can rise to a spiritually liberating place where it becomes obvious that all misery is a choice. But this might be where the yoga psychologist and many traditional psychologists differ widely. So I must add this caveat: It might only be a choice once the sufferer can see from above the haze with internally enlightened eyes. And therein lies the instructions of yoga.

The yoga psychologist knows that only with the client's aspiration coinciding with grace of the Divine can this realization and clarity be brought about. He knows that just continuing to work things over in one's head without calling down the Divine to help is as if believing a million zeros neatly lined up might somehow, someday add up to one happy guy.

Many Western forms of psychology are clueless at teaching how to call upon the Divine, but yoga psychology is totally focused on this and can prescribe many methods. Western psychology often calls upon us to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps only to find us tripping over them again a few days later when the illusion of being rationalized has worn off. And again, all the while that we do this the heart still yearns, seemingly in protest at this process.

Is it that the heart knows that we're trying to only appease the mind and ego? Is the heart weeping because we keep addressing symptoms through "rational" processes that require endless repetitions and unlimited strength of mind and ego to maintain? Could our lingering grief largely be due to the heart's feeling of not being heard or even abandoned by the mind? And what is the heart anyway?

Many religious scriptures have referred to the heart as the Seat of the Soul, Seat of Revelation, Seat of Inner Mysteries and God's Throne. Likewise, is it the Source of Enlightenment and thus the source for removing all difficulties and afflictions? The Divine wants to be our every remedy.

Now the heart is not saying to the mind that it should stop working. No, as explained many times in the Hindu and Yogic scriptures, the mind is a tool for calling down the Divine from above while aspiring up from the heart to meet itself. The spark meets the Sun. Jivatman meets Atman. Siva meets Shakti, God within meets the Lord of the Universe. Yoga the Divine union is formed, and a new being is born.

WILLIAM BRASHEAR is the author of The Yoga of Religion, a book about religious unity. He's also certified in Natural Vision Therapy, Vipassana Meditation, Thai Yoga Massage Therapy and Astanga Yoga Teaching from the Foundation of Patanjala Yoga Kendra in Bangalore, India.

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