In the pure light of awareness, our little fears and illusions and limitations dissolve, and we realize that life is not confined to the body, that consciousness is infinite. We are infinite. We can taste the timeless peace and bliss that isn’t dependent on the condition of our body or the world. From the Transcendence website (1)
Here we have operated over the years from the premise that the operating definition of stress from the Yogic point of view is “the resistance to what is”. Whatever the situation is in the moment, pleasurable or pleasurable, desired or not, our struggle with the facts and circumstances in any moment is what creates disturbances in ourselves that we often know as stress. This conflict within our body/mind can lead to a deeper sense of separation which Yoga sees as the root cause of our suffering.
The awareness practices of Yoga and meditation allow us to re-inhabit our bodies and re-discover the full range of physical and psychological experience that stress responses of tension, pain, armoring and numbing may have stolen from us. Truly, the element that transforms physical culture into Yoga is awareness, specifically the “choiceless” awareness that sees what is within without judging or otherwise reinforcing conditioned reactive habits of mind and body.
In most if not all the authentic wellness practices, amazing transformations can occur because ultimately these practices involve activating the process of the three “A”’s of conscious change; Awareness, Acknowledgement and Adjustment. Healing and other positive changes unfold as our work on ourselves helps us response to, rather than react from insights gained on work with ourselves.
Over time and as our initial goals we have at beginning of our journey in Yoga begin to be achieved, Yoga and Meditation practice may deepen to allow us to regain trust in our innate ability to heal and guide ourselves toward health and wellness more skillfully.
Those who practice Yoga and meditation for even a short can be quick to realize at least some of the mechanisms by which this evolution occurs. As the practice of physical Yoga asana and aware movement, pranayama(breathwork) and meditation deepen over time, a growing ability to become more awake in a broader sense to what is happening within us may emerge. This can let us step away from our normal reactive mode of knowing onto a new way to work with our experience. We can learn to notice and allow, if, even if just for the moment, our reactions to the pleasant and unpleasant aspects of our experience. From there we can choose set the unhelpful aspects of these reactions aside we may more creatively make the adjustments that best bring on the healthy changes we seek. By letting our “ego” step aside, we become more skillful in allowing ourselves to see and feel what we may have been resisting and open ourselves to transform old patterns and evolve toward wellness.
Joseph Lepage, in his self-published Yoga Therapy Manual recounts some of the mechanisms by which an awareness driven Yoga practice can inform our self-care and stimulate healing below:
* Relieving stress created muscular tension by awareness and acknowledgement of the role of stress in creating discomfort and pain within. This is accentuated in Yoga posture and aware somatic movement as deeper stress patterns and buried physically stored tensions and emotions are brought to the light of awareness and toward the release of their hold on the body/mind.
* By including the full range of pleasure and pain to our awareness we skillfully acknowledge and resolve the patterns of resistance and fears that magnify pain and transform it to suffering.
* By allowing the release of the patterns of muscular or other types of pain that has remained in neuro-muscular memory after the original cause has gone
* Bringing an understanding of the physical, energetic and emotional patterns at the root of energetic blocks in the body/mind that can often be the precursors of physical and mental dis-ease.
* Open an array of resources that weren’t available before. Awareness can open us to and allow us to skillfully utilize the ultimate innate healing energy, Prana. According to eastern thought working with energy is as important as working with its physical counterpart in the body to resolve disease, create and sustain true wellness
* According to Yoga, awareness is intelligence and therefore infinite and not subject to the physical laws of entropy and aging. Therefore, healing and transformation that may seem miraculous is possible and attainable through application of the principles and practices of higher consciousness.
* Restore the peace that comes from living simply in the “now” as the fantasies, ruminations and memory of past and future events take a back seat to the direct experience of the moment. (2)
From the perspective of Yoga, within our challenges are messages from the body/mind to be listened to, not to be ignored or feared. On the deepest level, according to Yoga, physical or mental pain signifies our movement away from the integration of our mental and physical selves with the deepest part of us. I encourage you to utilize the practice of Yoga to help you rise above your present way of being and bring on the insights and actions that support your ongoing wellness and help you more fully experience and enjoy all you do.
1.)The Healing Power of Awareness, the Transcendence website.
2.) adapted from Integrative Yoga Therapy Manual by Joseph Lepage, self-published, 1994