Words by Ralf Putz About two years ago, I was introduced to meditation through a 21-days program. It had a great impact on me, even though I had no intellectual understanding of it. The experience of meditation lit a flame…
The Sanskrit word sankalpa means “a resolve or intention formed in the heart”.
We’re greatly heartened to know that so many of our students have been empowered to make meaningful changes in their lives, some small, some large, all significant.
The ability to make a powerful Sankalpa – one that empowers us to manifest our intention is difficult to achieve because the mind is innately unstable, full of doubts, and conflicting desires.
To counteract these conflicts and doubts, students of our course are given various tools and exercises to examine each desire. Using Yogic Knowledge, Meditation Practices and Integration Exercises students test their desires and intentions through different perspectives or lenses. For example, how each desire fits into a particular stage of life and how to cognize the different desires that arise from each of the seven chakras. This results in an ability to form a holistic relationship with desires.
If we only listen to what one part of us wants we are silencing another part of us, and sooner or later this part will demand to be heard.
The Clarifying Power Of Adversity
Sometimes it takes a negative experience to stir up a powerful Sankalpa. In this way, adversity can be a blessing because it thrusts us into reconnecting with our will to survive, to overcome the odds, to heal, or to repair. And it is the aim of the course to support all of our students being able to remain on track while facing difficult, challenging and powerful life experiences, experiences that have the potential if they are managed wisely, to change your life for the better.
In our moment of truth we either collapse under the weight of the adversity or, if we are lucky and able, we muster all of our internal resources to rise to the challenge. The course will help you do this.
Case Study: How our student overcame a near death experience and taught her doctors about the power of Sankalpa
The story by Sanyasi Yogamitra epitomizes what we can do, even when faced with life-threatening illness, in what appears to be insurmountable odds.
Yoga for Trauma Recovery
Yoga is a powerful and efficient system for changing the brain. This is exactly the need of people suffering from post-traumatic disorder (PTSD). Not all trauma survivors develop PTSD but for those who do, life becomes unbearable, just as the trauma was. Devoid of hope, suicide can feel like the only way to freedom from physical pain and mental anguish. Yoga offers a vital seed of hope.
Although PTSD is generally treated as a psychological disorder it is increasingly recognised as a condition of the entire organism. Hence, body inclusive therapy has an important role to play in full recovery. The need is to heal the nervous system, reset the brain and learn methods for relaxation, mind management and putting the past to rest. As the symptoms of PTSD reduce it becomes possible to re-establish fulfilling relationships with loved ones and interact comfortably with society.
How can you expand your awareness through the koshas; the sheaths that make up the human existence?
What are the elements that make up the mind?
The seminars will present an overview of yoga psychology and yoga psychotherapy and to describe the four main Indian philosophies that illuminate the nature of human existence and provide a unique perspective on the human mind. It is from an amalgamation of the insights found in these philosophies that a cogent system of yoga psychology can be constructed.
I will describe how I view and use yoga psychology in my medical and psychotherapy practice and will describe a few of the practices that I find most useful in supporting clients to manage physical and psychological illness.
Understand the power of your mind
The intention of the seminars is to support your understanding your mind as an immensely powerful force that you are well-advised to make your friend, and to give it the time and attention it deserves. Yoga and meditation practices facilitate a structured approach to fostering a strong and healthy mind that you can use to create a better and more fulfilling life.
The science of the subtle body
Yoga psychology is the science of the embodied relationship between consciousness and mind. It is also the science of the subtle body.
The subtle body is composed of elements, energies, chakras, archetypes and universal forces.
Yoga psychology and psychotherapy enable you to tap into and connect with your subtle body, the part of you that takes you beyond social conditioning into the universal and powerful parts of you.
Yoga psychotherapy and illness
The yoga path
The aim of yoga (the word means union or connection) is to unite individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness, to feel part of something greater.
The path to union with the greater self is a journey from limited ego-based consciousness, a partial self, towards wholeness, a bigger sense of self. The growth in consciousness that occurs as part of this journey enables us to know who we are and why we are on the planet.
The metaphor of “the university of life” is apt for the yoga journey. We are here to learn and to grow towards wholeness. That is why we are here on the planet. The answer to “Why do I need to go through all of this hardship to get to wholeness?” is another issue altogether. We eventually get to answer this question as our consciousness develops. However, we are here now and need to get on with things while we have the chance and the opportunity.
The journey to wholeness
As part of the journey to wholeness, we need to form a loving relationship with ourselves and heal old wounds. Many of these wounds have been inherited while others have been self-inflicted through ignorance. Of course, many of us have had a variety of positive and negative experiences as part of our learning curve, however, it is the negative that often holds us back from growing into wholeness. We have accumulated traumas and emotional hits over time and any old residue that is having ongoing impact needs to be addressed.
Once we start on the path to wholeness we initially need to heal the old wounds, pay back the debts and then accumulate more and more positive karma. And of course, the meditation and other techniques you learn on the path equip you to handle old wounds and trauma in ways that you may have been previously unaware of. For many people, lack of knowledge and support to progress on the journey creates anxiety and an inability to progress. Gaining knowledge through study and individual counselling or psychotherapy empowers us and grants confidence.
The three main aims of Yoga Psychotherapy
Yoga-based psychotherapy is founded on yoga psychology, the yogic science of body-mind and consciousness. Yoga Psychotherapy is the application of yoga psychology to healing, strengthening and awakening ourselves. Yoga psychotherapy has three aims:
One of the greatest things about yoga psychology and psychotherapy is that they not only provide a holistic path to self-healing, they also enable spiritual awakening. This is because in these systems illness can be viewed as a sacred path to higher awareness if one has the appropriate knowledge, techniques and support.
Modern medicine is realizing that a physical approach alone, e.g. prescription drugs, or a psychological approach alone, e.g Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), delivers limited and often short-term benefits.
A holistic approach, which is sometimes called a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach is preferred over the purely biomedical model and the purely psychological model. The biomedical model does not fully recognize the effects of the mind on the body. The purely psychological model does not fully grasp the impact of the body on the mind.
Yoga psychology is a modern term that is in evolution. I define it as:
The science of the embodied relationship between consciousness and mind.
Yoga psychology sees body and mind as indivisible and gives maximum emphasis to the role of cultivating self-awareness as the foundation on which improved health and wellbeing is built.
Yoga psychology can also be called the science of the “subtle body,” the part of us that lies between and links the physical body and the spiritual, or causal body, the subtlest part of us.
The 4 Dimensions of Yoga Psychology
In order to gain a larger vision of the theoretical basis of yoga psychology, we need a 4-dimensional approach that draws from various Indian philosophical systems, including Yoga, Samkhya, Tantra, and Vedanta.