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The Power of Sankalpa (Intention) to Overcome Adversity, and Near Death

We have spent the past few months supporting students to create a powerful Sankalpa (a resolve) and to identify their heart’s desire through our Find Life Purpose Online Course.

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.

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Has Your Shadow Hijacked Your Life?

Your shadow contains all the traits and impulses that you disconnect from in yourself, but which you can plainly see in other people, such as egotism, laziness, carelessness, cowardice, greed and aggression.

If you are unaware of your own shadow, or if you are aware but neglect responsibility for it, your shadow can send distressing thoughts, emotions, and impulses into your awareness, seemingly from out the blue, and can even cause accidents. You can say or do things that you would rather not say or do, and this erodes the quality of your life.

Your Shadow in Relationships

The more control your own shadow has over you, the more easily you fall prey to another person’s shadow. Relationships can be fraught, strained or stormy, and they often end suddenly and badly. This is because if your shadow is in control it causes projection and denial. You can’t see who the other person actually is because your projection is getting in the way. The greatest tragedy, however, is that you can’t see yourself.

No-one is immune to the power of the shadow and we all have one. The quest is not to get rid of it (since you never can), but to learn about its nature and impact on your life, and begin a process of reintegration of all the shadow aspects that you’ve disowned. Ultimately, you need to take responsibility for your shadow so that you stop projecting both your ‘negative’ and ‘golden’ shadow onto others. This creates psychological peace, which is essential for mature relationships.

Feelings and Behaviors from the Unconscious Shadow

An unconscious shadow can cause anything from niggling annoyances to severe psychological disorders. Here are some examples of the shadow being in control; when the suppressed shadow becomes energized and empowered.

  • Feeling irritated and angry for no obvious reason
  • Feeling nervous or anxious for no obvious reason
  • Regurgitating a negative thought or emotion
  • Thinking that life is meaningless
  • Feeling apathetic or bored
  • Compulsively hiding how you really feel
  • Acting against your own values and ethics
  • Feeling shame or guilt
  • Blaming others for your problems
  • Sulking

Types of Shadows: Negative, Golden, Family, Societal

Everyone carries several types of shadows, and they often overlap.

Here are some examples:

You repeatedly encounter people who share the same fault e.g. jealousy, aloofness, thoughtlessness. This is your active Negative Shadow.

You are surrounded by people who are talented in the way you wish you were e.g. they are outgoing, creative, successful. This is your active Golden Shadow.

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Yoga Psychology and Psychotherapy – Theory and Practice

Yoga psychology is the theoretical basis for yoga psychotherapy. Yoga psychotherapy plays a vital role in the successful treatment and management of physical, psychological and spiritual conditions. When combined with Western psychotherapeutic approaches it creates a powerful holistic approach to long-term healing.

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.

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Is Meditation Dangerous?

And How Long Should You Meditate For?

One of our students recently wrote to us asking our thoughts about the possibility that meditation is dangerous. She quoted an article that describes the experience of people who had reported that engaging in mindfulness-based meditation resulted in the following negative experiences:

  • strange, persistent and obsessive thoughts
  • the sense of depersonalization
  • extreme sensitivity and vulnerability
  • a feeling of being exposed
  • anhedonia – the inability to experience pleasure
  • lack of meaning and joy
  • loss of direction

Like anything in life, meditation can cause problems when it is misused or misunderstood. If you don’t approach meditation with the correct preparation and attitude, you can become excessively introverted and psychological disturbed. It’s also possible to develop physical symptoms such as digestive problems, joint stiffness, muscle pain and metabolic imbalance.

Yogic perspective on the dangers of meditation

From a yogic perspective, these symptoms are described as excessive activity in the ida nadi, the left-hand channel that runs along the spinal chord, which carries mental energy. There are three energy channels running along the spine: ida nadi carries mental energy, pingala nadi carries physical energy and sushumna carries spiritual energy.

For meditation to be successful it’s important to balance ida and pingala nadis, the mental and physical energies, otherwise, your brain and mind can become over-stimulated, and depleted.

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