Archive for July, 2009

Yoga Psychology

July 22nd, 2009

Introduction

“Is there therapy in the Vedas?” I was a bit taken aback by this inquiry from a young and dedicated yoga practitioner. He had been struggling for years with psychological problems. Although he had embraced a traditional path of yogic transformation, he found the help he needed in a more modern self-help process based on contemporary psychology. As I thought about his inquiry, however, the answer seemed obvious. Rich in a tradition of intact family and community support, those born in traditional India did not need to rely on specialists to sort out mental afflictions caused mostly by social dysfunction. Classical Indian philosophy, especially its traditions of yoga, does, however, have detailed information on the nature of the mind. i

Inspired by my young friend’s question and desiring to organize that information in a relevant way to help address the mental challenges so many people face today, I categorized the basic tenets of yoga psychology into five broad principles:

  1. The mind is malleable.
  2. There is a correlation between the form the mind assumes and how one feels.
  3. The mind is swayed by the power of three main factors—karma, environment, and actions.
  4. By controlling the form or mode the mind takes, one can substantially influence how one feels.
  5. Full satisfaction can ultimately only be achieved by transcending the mind and realizing the true self.

The mind, like any mechanism, can be used more effectively when one knows its workings. This is especially important as the proper use of the mind is the basis of self-fulfillment. Yoga psychology thus speaks to the most important of all human aims: true happiness.

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