By Dr. Rita Khanna
To live in peace and harmony, without being thrown out of balance by the ups and downs of life is really not so hard and yet not so easy though it is the aim of every living being. From a Yogic perspective this means to live life fully, to flow with life and to accept whatever life brings, rather than fighting against life and the circumstances that we live in. Yoga, as an age-old system, has always been a practical science of living which teaches us the tools for a balanced, harmonious life. It is a system which explains the functioning of the human mind and the various levels of consciousness with the aim of unfolding the dormant potential in everyone. It offers practical ways of mastering the mind and evolving the consciousness from the gross to the subtle or super consciousness.
Yoga psychology is the oldest and broadest body of knowledge about human psychology. It is as valid today as it was 5,000 years ago, encompassing self-management as well as the management of relationships, and dealing with all issues of life so that one may live harmoniously. How can we manage ourselves? How can we overcome conflict, and have peaceful and co-operative relationships with others? How can Yoga help? Before trying to answer these questions, we first examine the Yogic understanding of human nature. The true nature of every human being is love and joy (ananda). But due to pain and suffering the individual forgets about his/her true nature and feels an emptiness inside. Because there is no peace, no harmony, no stability inside, we search these outside- in people, drugs, media, consumerism, power, money. A child expresses love and feelings freely in a natural way because he is yet to be exposed to the world.
THE VALUE OF YOGA
Regular practice of Yoga over an extended period of time can help us to get in touch with our inner core. For example, the physical postures (asanas) harmonize the body and balance the nervous system. The breathing practices (pranayama) calm and balance body and mind. The relaxation practices (yoga nidra) release tensions at various levels of the body and mind and lead to an inner sense of harmony. Other practices such as selfless service (karma yoga), truthful self enquiry (swadhyaya), seeking the company of the wise or reading inspiring books (satsang), doing good and developing compassion (seva), chanting sacred sounds (mantra), singing devotional songs (kirtan) and having an intensity of purpose (sankalpa) are to open the protective shield that hides our true nature.
DEMONSTRATION OF YOGA PSYCHOLOGY AND MODERN PSYCHOTHERAPY
It is interesting to note that some schools of modern psychology have a worldview and a view of personality development quite compatible with the Yogic perspective.
To become master of oneself – in the sense of disciplining the mind including one’s thoughts, actions and speech – is an ideal aspired for by schools of philosophy and spiritual traditions alike. As the saying goes, “The journey across the world starts with one step.” So the first step is to practice mastery of oneself in daily life. This can be a complete practice in itself and lead to perfection. Self-management relates to the ability to deal with one