Health, Wellness, Yoga & Psychotherapy: The Hidden Link that Connects them All
Here’s an excerpt from the book Yoga & Psychotherapy: The Evolution of Consciousness, collectively written by Swami Rama, Swami Ajaya, and Rudolph Ballentine. Trust me and read through this: you’ll be glad you did. I’ve edited the excerpt a little bit and added some commentary on the end to tie it all together.
Models of Disease: Internal Ecology vs. The Invasion by Germs
(…first it builds on how the body is really an ecological system, and then it delves into a discussion of germ theory and its negative implications. Dig this…)
For example, if a patient has acne or a skin rash, emphasis is on SUPPRESSING that rather than healing the underlying disturbance in the organism. However, physicians are now noticing that such suppressed symptoms may reappear in other forms. For example, in some cases where eczema is suppressed it reappears as asthma.
Our ignorance of the inside of our bodies is related to our attitude towards disease. It seems to have played a major role in the rise of a theory of disease peculiar to our culture. The conviction grew that most diseases were “caused” by invaders from the outside: micro-organisms or “germs.” (Therefore,) the ways in which poor management of one’s internal environment could contribute to illness was largely ignored.
The emphasis on germs was only one of a number of perspectives in modern medicine until it gained great impetus during the 30′s and 40′s as a result of the discovery of antibiotics. “Miracle drugs” seized the public’s imagination. It was quickly assumed that every disorder of the body would eventually be discovered to have its cause in the malicious attack of some invasive micro-organism…
There was a great sense of relief, for it seemed that medical science would also eventually discover an effective drug to annihilate each (and every one) of these invaders . Though a micro-organismic culprit did not materialize for every known disease, the concept of “miracle drugs” (still) prevailed. This search for new drugs to reverse illness continues today.
Thinking of ourselves in terms of the surface of the body while NOT developing an awareness of the interior leads to going about in the world to find the cause of discomfort whenever we feel vaguely that things are not right. From this perspective it is natural to assume that the remedy will also be something external – a (magical) “pill” or drug which can be put inside ourselves to make everything all right again.
This approach is also seen in the current attitude towards drugs which influence the mind and emotions. Feelings of unhappiness are glibly (or, superficially) blamed on “pressures.” “difficulties at work,” or other external influences. An “upper” is taken for a lift, a “downer” to relax, or whatever is handy to feel different.
The term “disease,” of course means dis-ease , or a” lack of ease.” But attention has turned away from a focus on this internal experience to the external world where the causal agent and remedy are both thought to be found. We have now (mistakenly) come to the point where “disease” means something that comes from the outside.
So there’s the problem right there : when most of us get sick, instead of analyzing our lifestyle (what it is that we eat and how it is that we behave) or our inner-selves (what it is that we think or how it is that we are spiritually), we jump right up and attack the external symptom. Instead of analyzing the cause, we jump right up and attack the effect.
We fail to realize that there’s an internal ecology: that sickness itself is part of a healing process and that illness is a form of communication to let us know we’re not doing the right thing.
By ignoring our biological feedback – which is an intelligent system – we never eliminate the root cause, so the feedback has to get stronger and more diverse every time…otherwise we’d never wake up to it…
You even see the same thing in so-called “alternative healing” practices, where people run to different herbs to try and eliminate different symptoms, instead of going the route of introspection and internal change. It’s really just surface-level thinking.
It’s all about taking responsibility, which is a principle that goes beyond this aspect of healing and applies to all areas of life.
But the book Yoga & Psychotherapy is even deeper, because when it talks about internal understanding, it doesn’t just mean lifestyle choices, it means mastery over one’s internal energy dynamics.
In yogic philosophy, human consciousness has what’s called The 5 Sheaths: (1) the physical body, (2) the breath and energy, (3) the mind, (4) higher, alternate states of consciousness beyond mind, and then (5) pure bliss. According to the book, “each sheath covers and obscures the more subtle awareness that is interior to it,” and “the continuum they form makes up a sort of step-wise ladder that is the basis of all growth and evolution.”
>> The Interaction Between Tension in the Body & in the Mind
>> The Body in Modern Psychotherapy
>> The Body in Yoga Therapy
>> Techniques for Relaxation in Yoga & Modern Therapy
>> The Body as a Model for the Mind
>> Models of Disease (the part you just read), and
>> The Psychosomatic Model (which I’m about to delve into next…)
For more on Health & Wellness, check out the holistic health category here on the blog…