If you want to find life purpose and live a full and healthy inner life, it is essential to bring your ego-mind into relationship with your soul-self. It is common for our sense of who we are, and our sense…
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
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.
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:
You can be anywhere, in almost any situation; taking a meeting, shopping, working out, or socializing, and you can perform the best yoga pose in the world. Convenient, flexible, and effective, it can be practiced on or off the mat, in any clothing, and needs no yoga props.
The best yoga pose in the world doesn’t even require a particular physical position. It takes only a thought, an awareness, to perform.
The “letting go” yoga pose
When you consciously let go of holding and contracting, whether that’s in your jaw, your shoulders, stomach, or wherever where you hold the most tension, you unravel the tightly-held form that you’ve been identifying with; the limited you.
In the letting go you are, at that moment, liberated (relatively). You reconnect with more of you, with the energies of your body and mind, those in your personal sphere, and beyond.
You are an ecosystem of connectivity.
You are more than your thoughts, your ideas, your occupation, your social identity, and your emotions. You are an ecosystem of connectivity. In every moment, you are contracting or expanding your ecosystem through your constricting or expanding awareness.
The tension connection
The letting go yoga pose doesn’t look impressive. In fact, it’s imperceptible to others. It does, however, create a powerful psychic impression; people feel it. This is because all levels of tension; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, are connected, they feed into and impact upon each other. This not only occurs in our inner world but also radiates out into the outer world.
Both stress and relaxation are frequently misunderstood. It is often thought that stress is a minor problem, similar to a light cold, and that relaxation is simply an escape from work through recreation. They are much more than this.
Stress is deeply embedded in the body-mind from birth. You carry the cellular memory of the deep past; the trials and traumas of your ancestors, and the worries and tensions that your mother experienced while you were in her womb.
True relaxation is a skill that inhibits negative genetic expression and triggers positive genetic expression. It short-circuits your predisposition towards disease.
When you understand and practice relaxation you take significant control of your biological and psychological processes. You disrupt both the everyday stresses, and the deep tensions that you’ve carried since birth, and which have formed who you are. This enables regeneration of the body-mind on a cellular level.
Choosing how your genetics express
You had no choice or control over your ancestral inheritance, nor did you have a say in what happened to you in the womb. You inherited strengths and weaknesses from your ancestors, and you developed strengths and weaknesses while you were growing in the womb.
It is our weaknesses that cause us daily stress and, if not managed well, prevent us from dealing with ongoing accumulating pressures. This is what we all are obligated to address if we want a healthy, disease-free life. We have to learn how to use our strengths to manage our weaknesses and if we become skilled enough we can actually transform our weaknesses into strengths.
From a young age, you have made lifestyle choices that have had a positive or negative impact on your life. How well you feel today is a result of how successful you have been in reducing your accumulated daily stresses and combating the stress of your genetic inheritance.
Fortunately, you can still make choices today that will have a very positive impact on the rest your life, and that will alter your genetic vulnerabilities.
You are more powerful than you think
It is crucial to appreciate the immense power you have over your own genetic expression.