Tag Archives: healing yoga

Perception and Action…

Adapted from “The Heart of Yoga”

How does our perception work? We often determine that we have seen a situation “correctly” and act according to that perception. In reality, however, we have deceived ourselves, and our actions may bring misfortune to ourselves or others. Just as difficult is the situation in which we doubt our understanding of a situation when it is actually correct, and for that reason we take no action, even though doing so would be beneficial. In yoga terminology, this is called Avidya – literally meaning “incorrect comprehension.” The opposite is Vidya, “correct understanding.”

Our incorrect comprehensions are very rooted in us because we often live life through a series of many unconscious actions and ways of perceiving that we have been carrying out for years. As a result of these unconscious responses, the mind has become more and more dependent on habits until we accept the actions of yesterday as the norms of today. Such habituation in our action and perception is called Sam Skara. These habits cover the mind with Avidya, as if obscuring the clarity of consciousness with a filmy layer.

If we are sure we do not clearly understand a given situation, generally speaking we do not act decisively. But if we are clear in our understanding we will act and it will go well for us. Such an action stems from a deep level of perception. In contrast, Avidya is distinguished by superficial perception. I think I see something correctly, so I take a particular action and then later have to admit that I was mistaken and that my actions have not proved beneficial. So we have two levels of perception: One is deep within us and free of this film of Avidya, the other is superficial and obscured by Avidya. Just as our eye is transparent and clear and should not itself be tinted if it is to see colors accurately, so should our perception be like a crystal-clear mirror. One goal of yoga is to reduce this film of Avidya in order to perceive and act correctly.

Expanding the Category of “Us”…

Inspired from Rick Hanson, P.H.D and Budda’s Brain – The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, & wisdom.

Loving Kindness

Let’s be mindful of the automatic mental processes that cause us to identify with a particular group (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, political party, nation), and then regard members of different groups as others. Focus on similarities between “us” and “them,” not differences. Recognize that everything is connected to everything else, that “us” is the whole wide world – that, in a deep sense, the entire planet is our home and the people on it are our extended family. Deliberately create mental categories that include us along with people we usually regard as not-us. For example, when we see someone in a wheelchair, consider the fact that we are all disabled in one way or another.

Be particularly mindful of the default processes of valuing our own group while devaluing others. Notice how often that valuing actually has no rational basis. Be aware  of the little ways that our minds regard others as less of a person than our individual selves. Focus on the good things about people in other groups. Regard people more as individuals than as representatives of a group, which reduces prejudice.

Meditation on Loving Kindness

Find a posture that helps you remain relaxed and alert. Settle into your breath, establish some equanimity, some mental spaciousness and balance.

Be aware of the sensations of the breath in the region of your heart. Bring to mind the feeling of being with someone you love. Keep that feeling of love. Sense that love flowing through your heart, perhaps in a rhythm with your breath. Feel how that love has a life of its own, flowing through your heart, not specific to any one person.

Sense the love toward people you know, your friends and family. Feel that loving-kindness extending further out, to people you know who are neutral to you. With them the best, wish that they suffer less, and that they truly be happy.

You may feel loving-kindness like warmth or light or like a spreading pool, with gentle waves that extend further out to include more people. Feel this loving-kindness including even difficult people and people who may have harmed you. Wish that even they suffer less and be truly happy.

The peacefulness and strength of this loving-kindness flows outward even to people who you don’t know, whether you agree with them or not, whether you like them or not.

Keep feeling that flowing love as you watch your breath enter and leave your body.

 

How Yoga Creates Change…

Author Bo Forbes, PsyD – Yoga for Emotional Balance

Chronic stress, multitasking, the pressure to have it all, and a value system that emphasizes achievement over self-care make emotional imbalance, not balance, more common in modern human experience. It’s no secret, alarming numbers of Americans are on some type of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and/or sleep aide.

If you’ve tried for a long time to “fix” your anxiety and depression through medication or psychotherapy, these are not your only options. You can add yoga to any treatment you’re currently using and see beneficial effects. Unlike medication and psychotherapy, yoga addresses the mind and body at the same time. Yoga’s physical poses (both active and restorative) help build new body experiences that differ from anxiety and depression. This tells every system in your mind-body network that you are not anxious and not depressed. Yoga also influences posture: it can shift the very movement and alignment patterns that have led to a closed heart area, amped-up muscular tension, or sped us up to the point of agitation.

Yoga’s benefits don’t stop there. It’s special breathing techniques can calm an anxious mind or invigorate a sluggish one. Its use of relaxation, after each practice and in restorative poses, balances the nervous system. And yoga’s ability to help us attend to our direct experience (sometimes called present-moment awareness), also sets the stage for quieting the mind and changing mental patterns. Yoga’s therapeutic tools (focused attention, visualization, breathing exercises, relaxation, and Restorative Yoga, to name a few) don’t just begin to assemble a new, healthier emotional experience. They reach beyond these experiences to the root of our original suffering: a separation from the deepest parts of ourselves.

Yoga is a mind-body medicine. It works through the mind and body to help heal anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional pain.

There are countless studies proving the benefits of yoga practice at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.

I encourage you, if you are suffering in any way, to seek out a yoga teacher who’s teaching style resonates with you in an environment that feels safe to you, and move through your healing process and find inner peace, happiness, and strength.