Yoga and Psychology

Yoga and Psychology

By: Transpersonal Spirit

By Amanda Sage

Transpersonal psychology studies the intersection between mysticism, spiritualism and science.  The ultimate goal of yoga is to have a smooth flow of prana to lead one to the experience of divine union known as Samadhi. Samadhi is called the religious, mystic or peak experience in psychology and consciousness studies. Direct experience of the divine is the goal of all of the various mystic sects throughout the world. To reach these deep states a number of consciousness altering ‘techniques of the sacred’ bring us into deeper connection with our inner world.  Transpersonal psychology has studied many of these techniques including meditation, relaxation, visionary plants, energy work, prayer, breathing exercises, and movement arts; Grof and others have found that they all induce what is called a holotropic non-ordinary state of consciousness. Holotropic being a subcategory of non ordinary consciousness defined by its healing potential. Holotropic literally means moving toward wholeness,

Through 50 years of study Stanislav Grof has found that all holotropic states of consciousness bring many of our denied and suppressed emotions to our conscious mind and can even lead into the transpersonal (beyond the self) realms of consciousness such as the experience of divine union. Those familiar with psychedelics will understand the power of holotropic states of consciousness to lift one into the heavens of mystical union as well a direct experience of our traumas and fears. Yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, ritual and prayer can bring about holotropic states of consciousness and will often will encourage deep psychological processing.  I have had many friends and students who have reported after yoga classes they had many emotions rising to the surface and they believed this was because of the yoga practice. This is common with many people and without proper guidance it can lead one to be energetically and ontologically blown out.

Trauma is suppressed denied, disassociated memories and experiences which are caused by stressful events with which we cannot cope, examples include abuse, surgeries, accidents, war time experience, ect.   According the Peter Levine repressed trauma will cause us to recreate scenarios related to the original trauma. Theoretically this occurs because the subconscious is attempting to relive and resolve the trauma by bringing to mind and into our lives repeatedly. Through yoga we are inviting our mind to calm, connecting to our bodies and unfolding the energy bodies, thus, also inviting the process of emotional healing and transcendence of time and space. Even the events in our outer world are created and informed by our inner well being through our interpretation and actions; emotional repression and trauma can be stored in our bodies or in any of the multivalent layers of the psyche. These emotions rise up and must be internalized and fully experienced to reach resolution, once resolved we will drop many negative patterns and behaviors which were associated with the repressed emotions.

In studies Grof and other researchers have found that once we open and resolve these repressed emotions it invites us to move vastly deeper into the consciousness and we breakthrough our biographic story into the transpersonal realms. The transpersonal is the world of the shaman, saint, mystic, myth, the unexplainable and indescribable. In psychotherapy using experiential therapies such as Holotropic™ Breathwork people experience the full expression of their repressed trauma and relive it emotionally and psychosomatically. Digging deep into the psyche people also report convincing experiences of reliving past lives, traveling to other worlds, communicating with nonphysical entities, psychic abilities, spontaneous healing has even been observed when people experience the transpersonal roots of not just trauma but the roots of what we are apart of and who we are. The depth of consciousness is explored and healed in a true yoga practice and can cause symptoms such as emotional upwelling, psychosomatic sensations, and a wide variety of transpersonal phenomena.

photo by Neil Krug

The age when science and spirituality do not mix is drawing to a close and paradigm shattering theories are emerging from mystic scientists in many fields. A worldview informed by direct experience of the transpersonal states has been in every culture except for Industrialized Civilization. Quantum physics now agrees with the Buddhists that we live in a illusion and all the phenomena in the universe is one. Using the knowledge gain from direct experience of the transpersonal realms and the encounters with the collective unconsciousness gives a universal view of world religions and gives respect to all technologies of the sacred because of their power to deepen the inner quest and to tap into the universal field of information. I find it very hopeful that the walls which blocked science and religion are falling away as we observe and research the nature of consciousness. After all, is not the master yogi a scientist involved in consciousness research from another culture?

The results of over 50 years of scientific work concludes that deep with-in the psyche and in the most subtle levels of the quantum universe we are all united in the field of consciousness and all information is with-in each piece no matter how small.  It’s possible that we can get information both through internal and external channels. Yoga, meditation and many other practices can awaken our awareness of the already existent connections between the internal and external world. If we overcome our deepest fears and anxieties through experiencing them internally those energies will not need to manifest externally. We can turn the mind into a vessel which travels deep into the mysteries of the cosmos and perhaps for a moment glimpse Samadhi. Perhaps, it is possible that when we travel inward and release our trauma we are also healing the wounds of others because of the interconnected nature of the universe. By healing our deepest wounds we repair the connection to others, the world around us and to the divine consciousness, that healing energy spreads  and inspires a desire to better the world in ourselves through helping others and our environment.

by transpersonal spirit


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