By Brandon Jami
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In the world of yoga, we’re expected to wear semi loose clothes, bring our mats, and our positive smiles joyously show up for our session. Most of us that haven’t traveled outside of the United States—go for the ride and stretch our bodies out and walk out of the yoga session feeling invigorated and light. However, there comes a point in everyone’s spiritual path where we crave deeper connection, deeper meaning, and resolve for our inner conflicts. Resolving these conflicts—we know that the smiles fall away and the work soon arises to the surface.
Yesterday, I took a yoga class downtown Denver, Colorado. Per usual, the instructor was “positive energy” focused and she demanded happiness from all of her students. Because I have been a student of yoga for over ten years, I somewhat expected this, and I have accepted that main stream (westernized) yoga is so removed from the spiritual process. Typically western yoga classes are packaged as this one size fit’s all happy pill, so I was un-phased. However, one of the ladies that stood next to me on her mat; was having an emotional experience on her mat. We were doing hot yoga, and she began to cry.
The yoga instructor stated that this is a non negative energy zone, so no crying accepted. As we proceeded through our session, and the instructor conducted a meditation, the woman next to me began shaking and weeping on her mat. She attempted to silence herself, so that she wouldn’t be ousted. Immediately, I turned over and held her hand. I whispered to her “allow yourself to be as you are.” She then clinched her chest, and sighed. At this point the yoga instructor ignored our section of the class room.
By the time class was over, and we departed from the class—I realized that many of us operate from an avoidant emotional space. Most of us have been taught through new age, and spirituality that we’re not to identify with negative emotions. We’re to ignore them, and paint a pretty smile over our traumas and hurts. The term that comes to mind is “Think positive”. While I do understand and agree with positive thinking, changing our thoughts—which empower us to make different choices, which ultimately allow us to create a different reality. I don’t believe that we should dismiss the inner work that is necessary to begin the healing process.
To be completely fair, I know that by our human nature it’s easier to paint pretty pictures in our mind, and not confront our subconscious mind. Often times the emotional work that we do shatters our egos, and places us at the center of healing, and forcing us to admit that we’ve only scratched the surface with our positive thinking. No matter how positive we may be…there is no short cut to healing and undergoing the transmutation process.
Example: If someone struggles with depression, they must first acknowledge that depression is present within their energy. Then the person would explore the triggers, and circumstances that elicit the feelings of depression. In-turn this person would have the opportunity to observe the thoughts surrounding their emotions. From this point the person has an option to make grounded steps towards change. As we all know healing our mind isn’t the same as healing the emotions. Which is why most American deal with cognitive dissonance (thoughts and emotions aren’t on the same page).
I have found that we best serve healing our emotions when we connect our emotions to our body. Psychical activities such as yoga, bio energetics, or any other art form that gets the body moving. We then use our activities to allow our emotions to come to surface without any form of judgement. If we feel the need to express our anger, we express it. If we feel the need to cry, we cry. If we feel the need to laugh we laugh. These activities show us how to own and trust our emotional state.
Author of Ascending with both feet on the ground, psychologist, spiritual teacher Jeff Brown discusses healing the hear (emotions) in his books. Brown goes into depth, by stating that the only proven method of true psychological and emotional healing comes from allowing both the emotional body and the psychological process to be fully present. Furthermore, Brown shares with us—the importance of having the willingness to confront the subconscious mind. We need all parts of ourselves to heal and move our lives forward. Brown eludes that we’re not just the presence that abides within us, but we’re in-fact connected to the pain, hurt, and shadow. In-which non of these components should be dismissed or ignored. Though, Brown believes that we must move past our habitual thinking mind, and allow ourselves to feel deeply and transform our emotions by processing them—without apology.
Brown offers the complete package of a healing model. I have found this to be true with some many spiritual teachers, practitioners that have a psychotherapy background. Which is highly important. We must not forget our core psychological process, that has been engrained in us for thousands of years, and cannot be overlooked, because of a westernized fad.
I personally believe that there’s thousands of healing models that can potentially help aide us in the process of healing both the emotional body, and the mind. While I appreciate every yoga teachers intention to introduce models of healing to the masses, I am adamant about being aware of what the students need in the environment, so that each student benefits from the session, which can elicit change, and sparks of healing. As we heal and pioneer our conscious movement, we must be willing to bring all of ourselves to the mat, and have supporting individuals that embrace true healing, and not deceptively delight in false happiness or positivity.
Alas, the most positive and empowering step that we can take today is have an openness and willingness to truly become honest with our emotions and life experiences. When we love ourselves completely––we also fall madly in love with our shadow as well. We’re not perfect, nor should we ever feel that our sense of worth comes from a false identity.
Until next time, breath and love on the parts of you that you’re ashamed of.