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:
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.
Facing the Shadow Online Seminars combine Western and Eastern Psychology and Yoga Meditation techniques to engage and enlighten your shadow. The shadow is where you repress the parts of you that you dislike and disown. Almost every problem you have stems from your shadow. Facing…