The Promise of Inner Work
Sometimes throughout our adult lives we find ourselves feeling stuck, or perhaps we discover certain patterns of behaviour we express, or even patterns in relationships. Emotions can also be patterns, and we might say that they are patterns of energy. We may be experiencing a loop of certain emotions in our day to day lives; like anger or fear. When energy patterns get reinforced, over time they become very strong and difficult to dislodge, or even recognize. Even tension is a result of blockages in our energy flow, usually caused by emotional reactions to life. We also adopt/learn patterns of movement; postural, gestural, rhythmical and even through our voice. Many of our patterned ways of being in our mental, emotional and physical self are the result of coping strategies we developed growing up, beliefs about ourselves, and attitudes we have. Traumas we have experienced can also lead to patterns of response in our daily life.
It’s not always easy to recognize a pattern and get to the root of it. We can be lost in the drama of now and can’t see the bigger picture. It can be very helpful to explore our patterns and core beliefs with the help of a trusted psychotherapist. They are skilled at helping to shed light on the roots of our reactions to life.
Transformation is a natural process in life. Change is constant and inevitable, but people often fear the unknown and like the comfort and safety of sameness. There is a beautiful word from the Sanskrit of early yoga philosophy: Parinahma. It means “everything that changes”. When we hold on or push away, we suffer. This early philosophy also teaches that there is a part of us that is changeless: our True Nature or Pure Awareness, and when we know that we can begin to end our suffering. There is also a saying from the Upanishads: “When I am not, I am.” In other words when we undress the things or patterns that hold us, we find out who we really are.
Early yoga philosophy also offers help with dislodging these patterns we have. The philosophy is rich and has much to teach us, but I am choosing three basic foundations of practice that can get us going.
TAPAS – This Sanskrit word is often translated as “to purify”, “to strengthen”, “igniting the inner fire”. We need to cultivate some inner fire in order to shift the lethargy, fear or lack of awareness that keeps us in typical ways of responding to life, and ourselves. We need a yoga practice that incorporates asana (postures), pranayama (breath/energy), and dynamic rest. Meditation is also key. One doesn’t need to devote large amounts of time to this. Even a 20 minute practice 5 times a week can begin to work magic. With each session, you are strengthening your vital energy, or prana. Prana must be strengthened in proportion with self awareness, so that your actions in daily life come from a place of clarity. Hence, the next two key practices.
SVADYAYA – (I love that word!) This roughly translates to mean self study. Cultivate the ability to Listen – to your body, your mind and your emotions. This takes intention and attention. You can observe your breath, the sensations in your body and the sensations when you are feeling particularly emotional, for emotions can be felt in the body. You can observe your mental reactions to things that trigger you. Self awareness will grow and you’ll begin to step off the treadmill of automatic pilot. You will also remember that beneath the temporary separation you may be feeling, you are Whole.
Svadyaya brings greater self awareness and glimpses of what it feels like to be connected – not separate from the Absolute.
ISHVARA PRANIDHANA – This calls us to surrender to our great/divine Self. We also work to cultivate a state of openness, receptivity, humility and gratitude.
Cultivate these three practices and your life will change. When we fear change, evolution is the enemy. But to those who respond consciously to the steady beat of evolution, change is the essence of life summoning us to become all that we can.
As a psychotherapist and yoga teacher, I also offer a 10 session individual package that incorporates inner work for body, mind & spirit. Through these sessions, you will gain clarity, insight and a much deeper connection to self. This ‘combo pack’ is a blend of psychotherapy, yoga, breathing & meditation.