“Self-knowledge is the greatest weapon against the influence of others”
Other people’s comments, judgments, or beliefs will have less influence over you if you have a deeper awareness of yourself. Your SELF includes, beliefs, thoughts, emotions and the influences of society. Some people believe a higher power and or a higher consciousness is also a part of your SELF. Meditation is a powerful self sustaining tool that can heal and protect you.
Let us engage in a short meditative exercise.
BECOME AWARE – As you read this move your attention to how your back feels against the surface it rests on. Notice any sensations pleasant or unpleasant in the lower then upper back and then your shoulders. How does the seat under you feel? Are you eating or drinking something? How does it taste? What are the sounds around you? Is your breathing even, deep, or shallow? How do your fingers feel Hot, Warm or Cold?
For 30 seconds now you became more aware and present to your physical body?
Awareness comprises of several layers.
Most people have some awareness of who they are. Deep awareness can come only with the practice of stillness in the mind and objective introspection. This self-awareness can facilitate self-acceptance and change.
What does Yoga mean?
YOGA means “joining” The purpose of yoga is to reunite an individual’s self (jiva – mortal life) with pure consciousness (Brahman - pure spirit).
Yoga acknowledges at the basic level that all individuals are uniquely different and encourages acceptance of oneself as unique and a significant part of the whole.
Contrary to some myths yoga is not part of any religion. The purpose of yoga is not to change any religious beliefs.
“The soul that moves in the world of the senses and yet keeps the senses in harmony ….finds rest in quietness”
Yoga acknowledges individual differences
An illustration of this is that no two individuals with the same level of experience and practice look the same in a yoga posture. One of my instructors, whohas practiced yoga for 35 years, cannot do several postures. He teaches these poses and several students with only a few years of practice can do them. He does not question why he cannot do what other can do or feel incompetent.
Our pain often comes from our difficult in accepting what we can and cannot do, what we have and do not have. Yoga is a practice of spiritual acceptance of what is.
Paths of Yoga
With daily practice of yoga this union opens the individual to feeling connected, focusing on life with a different perspective of reality and experiencing life in the moment.
There are many paths of yoga:
KarmaYoga – Yoga of action
Bhakti yoga- Devotional Yoga
Jnana yoga - Yoga of self-knowledge and wisdom
Raj yoga – Yoga of Physical and Mental practice and harmony
Raj Yoga is yoga that can be integrated into everyday living. Raj yoga includes yamas, nityamas, asanas, prananyama, prathyhara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi
YAMAS moral practices aimed at removing “lower nature” via non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation and non-posessiveness.
NIYAMAS Are aimed at fostering positive qualities and include purity, contentment, austerity, study of sacred texts and living in the awareness of a greater divine presence.
ASANAS – Physical practice of postures
PRANAYAMA - Breathing techniques that regulate organ functions
PRATHAHARA is the drawing of the senses inward in order to still the mind for dharana
DHARANA is concentration
DHYANA is concentration that moderates and leads to meditation
SAMADHI Union with super consciousness through meditation
If you have given the above information some thought you must realize that these practices are achievable.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga will contribute to a more grounded self, a connected feeling and movement away from the pain that is being held within you.
Focused attention on muscles and moving them consciously to a sate of relaxation induces relaxation in the mind.
Focused breathing improves circulation, triggers the relaxation response and brings clarity to the mind and improves aura or energy.
The practice of Asanas and Pranayama are tools to help you move away from external influences to becoming a master of your internal influences. With practice this tool will enable you to let go of what you need, not hold onto external or internal influences that can evoke unpleasant sensations, be present, and feel oneness.
The practice of all aspects of Raja yoga can move you into the practice of spiritual relaxation. Here you will be able to learn to be a witness of your own mind and body and not feel trapped by its movements and begin to alter it ways to reach a more peaceful aware state that you can control.
Yogic practice enhances the body’s ability to maintain immunity and function well.
The practice of yoga does not claim to resolve all pain and unpleasantness but it enables and individual to become observers of the experience versus prisoners of them.
Safe practice of Yoga
I do not believe that yoga benefits every individual in the same way. It has to be used with caution so as not to trigger unmanageable emotions. For example “Kapalabhati, fast breathing exercises” may mimic hyperventilation. This may not benefit a client who has “panic attacks” and is still terrified of these attacks. On the other hand a client who is beginning to understand his/her panic attacks and is willing to try guided exposure can benefit from alternate slow and fast breathing exercises. This can teach the client that they can control their breathing and potentially reduce the fear of having a panic attack.
Yoga does not substitute for medication that may be needed to treat severe mental and physical illnesses.
Do not begin the practice of yoga without proper instruction.
Walking can be considered a form of meditation and yoga. Walking with an awareness of one’s breathing and surroundings brings an individual in contact with nature and self.
Continuous aerobic activity increases the level of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and is can naturally make you less anxious, sad or moody.
Walking can have a calming effect and some therapeutic issues can be addressed with clarity. I believe that once a therapeutic relationship is established, walking and talking with the client at the same time can help motivate the client to include exercise into their daily lifestyle.
If there is anxiety associated with self-image, accompanying the client to the gym or walking with the client can be a way for me to get to know the clients problems better and work on the solution in a real life way.
For many people it is difficult to sometimes find time to exercise. Walking and talking allows the client the time to have therapy as well as exercise and is an efficient use of time.