After a long weekend of Yoga Therapy training, I found myself not only tired, but a little confused… lost, really.
With a bit of reflection on the experience, I realized the “lost” feeling was because things were different. After discussion of the deeper aspects of yoga philosophy (theories detailing the nature of creation and existence), I had been changed. My day-to-day understanding, and thus experience, of reality had been altered.
Importantly, this experience was different from being exhausted due to being overwhelmed by new information. I’ve been there, to (in the same training, with the same teacher).
In contrast – stark contrast, actually, now that I really come to understand it – I found myself in an emptiness, an absence of information, not an abundance.
This may sound odd, bad even, but I believe it’s actually an example of some of the best “therapy” possible.
Let’s see if I can explain. To make things simple, we can divide therapeutic intervention into two types: creation and discovery. In creation, we add to or make more of the situation. We can take medicines or add certain exercises to our daily routine – all in effort to counter the suffering being experienced.
As opposed to this, there is a type of therapy that is more “discovery” oriented. Instead of working to counter the suffering head on, such as by taking medicines that aim to address the symptoms, we add nothing to the situation. In a manner of speaking, we don’t do anything about the problem.
Instead, we seek to investigate, or unravel, the knot that is the suffering. For instance, where there is a pain in the body, instead of doing anything to counter or remove the pain, be it through over-the-counter pain killers, yoga exercises, or Chinese herbs, we instead focus our attention on the pain.
I call this “discovery” because we aren’t doing, or adding anything to the problem. Instead, the whole intent is to use the suffering as a gateway for discovery. It’s as if we interpreted the irritation or problem as a voice asking for attention or help. Instead of “fixing” it, we simply sit and listen intently.
The outcome of these two approaches may be dramatically different; my above experience being a great example of the result of “discovery” therapy.
Where we learn from – are taught by – the suffering, where awareness is increased, consciousness effectively enlightening the underlying problem, we lose something. We’re different, lighter…
It really does feel like a loss of mass. I believe that “weight” is a deeply held issue/belief…
Think about the last time there was a demanding problem in life, maybe a big project at work, or some problem with a girl/boyfriend that you knew you needed to bring up and talk about. These problems can literally “weigh” on you, and when the problem is over, it really feels like a weight has been lifted from your life. You feel lighter, freer…
This is much like what I experienced, except, because the discussion in class went so deep, to the very core of who and why we are, the internal cognitive entanglements that were unraveled, were, literally, fundamental to my day-to-day experience of life – It was so freeing, it was unnerving.
And, again, this wasn’t – and this “discovery” approach isn’t – about adding new facts to an understanding of things. It’s much, much deeper – it’s realization.
The knots that were unraveled in my world weren’t concrete things I fully knew or believed – replaced by new or different knowledge; they were a mass of not knowing, guesses, poorly investigated assumptions, and, largely, me kinda turning my head away from the uneasiness, because I didn’t know what to make of it all…
These most basic “not-knowings” and the halfhearted assumptions supporting/covering them, I believe, lay at the heart of all suffering.
So why don’t we simply figure these things out, and get over it? Why, instead, do we tend to “add” to the problem, just complicating the surface mess, while the underlying problem continues to be unaddressed… ignored?
Well, likely, because, in a way, it is extremely unnerving to have those deepest aspects of our psyche – literally, our experience of the world and existence – removed through authentic insight and understanding.
Last night, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was confused. I fully recognized possibilities of things to do with my time; I was fully aware of my habits and tendencies, my routines. But I was confused. I could develop rationale for doing this or doing that. I could even acknowledge things I could to do to evade the uneasiness.
Things were new, fundamentally different. I’m sure I looked the same, with absolutely no evidence of any change, but the world was very, very… odd.
Essentially, it was a new freedom, a whole new lightness, but – and I believe this is likely why more don’t go there more frequently – it was quite unsettling.
Standard, common “normalness” is such a sanctuary. In a way, it is extremely comfortable. That’s why, I think, we stay here.
The problem is it’s kind of a lie. We do so much of what we do because it continues the cover-up of all that stuff that, man, we just don’t want to face. And not that it’s necessarily scarey (though it may, very well, be), but because it is, so deeply, unknown, which, I suppose, may be the height of scariness…
In my world, the above is the essence of medicine, health, and healing. It is the ultimate addressing of suffering. It is the “treatment” of the deepest root of suffering.
But it’s not something learned or gained; I can’t tell you what I discovered. There are no “facts” to which you can expose yourself, nothing new to add to your collection of knowledge (and, to be honest, often such actions of accumulating facts are done in evasion of deeper truth).
And yoga philosophy was only the vehicle, and it was only the vehicle for me. There are many potential avenues. Some say everything – any experience – can be an effective vehicle for (self-) discovery.
And, so, though I’m renewed and very excited, I simply couldn’t give you this experience, even though I would love to and do, in fact, try quite often.
Instead, I simply recommend, one human on this planet to another, to stop, turn around and look into – stare right into the face of – the unknown. Seek to discover. That is all, not learn or gain anything, but to remove falseness and unknowing.
It does kinda suck. I won’t lie. But that unsettledness is temporary; the reward of the lifting of deep and heavy weights, the newfound freedom, for lack of a better word, is… awesome, with emphasis on the “awe”.
After thoughts on different types of therapy –
In reality, the clinical application of almost any therapy can incorporate both approaches of which I spoke – creative and discovery-based. I don’t think it necessarily comes down to the specific form of medicine you choose.
You can take a pain-killer, yet really sit with the true source of the pain. You can go to a yoga therapist or acupuncturist that urges inward observation, yet remain fixed on the superficial and external. It comes down to you, not the therapy or therapist you seek.
I do believe some forms of medicine are better designed and, thus, better able, to assist you in realizing the deeper source of your suffering, but, then again, I’m really biased. :)