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Monday, February 22, 2010

Psycho-Spirituality: A Wikipedia Moment

The jumping off point of any psycho-spiritual model is the concept of Oneness. I was a bit surprised when I started Googling "psycho-spiritual" and realized while there are millions of hits on-line there are no concrete definitions in the major sources. That is both great and discouraging for this blogger: on the one hand it leaves the door wide open to formulate my own definition and on the other it is a shame there is not more work in the traditional psychology space that emphasizes the role of spirituality in mental health. I mentioned that we would be diving into The Work of Byron Katie and I wanted to help set the stage for this simple and yet profound psycho-spiritual process.

A Wikipedia Moment!
As I wrote the term psycho-spiritual and contemplated its meaning one thing that I noticed immediately was that the "spiritual" aspect should come before the psychology. My simple view is that "psychology" relates to the mind and "spirituality" inspires a much broader perspective to include that which transcends the mind. I decided to Wiki "psychology" and what do you know....psychology comes from the Greek psukhe meaning "breath", "spirit", "soul" and logia meaning "the study of". WOW! No wonder there is no definition for psycho-spiritual it is redundant. This leaves us with a bigger problem, how are we going to break it to the field of psychological that they have been missing the quintessential element of their profession...spirituality. There are, of course, many in the field that recognize the importance of spirituality and slowly the field is evolving however I would bet that MANY psychologists do not even realize their profession was founded (atleast named) on spiritual grounds.

Spirituality is Synonymous with Yoga
When we look at the definition for spirituality it is most often characterized by spiritual practices such as prayer, contemplation and meditation. These practices are all central to the discipline of yoga. Any practice that leads us towards the realization of our deepest aspect is yoga. Yoga is an extremely broad body of work that has thoroughly explored every path towards the realization ultimately facilitated by the practices. It almost doesn't make sense to talk too much about the end-game for spiritual practice but rather the practice itself. One of the practices of yoga not much known in the West is that of self-inquiry which brings us back to The Work of Byron Katie.

I will continue to use the term psycho-spiritual because "psycho" has been so misused that to most it is identified with "the mind". Psycho-spiritual then is the application of mental concepts to lead one to spiritual insight, revelation and growth. The cornerstone of psycho-spirituality is the process of taking responsibility for our mind-body system....essentially ending the Blame Game. Practicing self-inquiry is one of the most direct routes to this process and Byron Katie has given us a phenomenal approach. As a starting point consider this: every reaction you experience towards another person is first and foremost a function of your perception of that person. The conclusion is that it begins with you.

Every time you react to someone today, notice how what you are reacting to is your "idea" or "thought" that person. Your thoughts lead to your emotions and ultimately your suffering. The "other" barely figures in except as a trigger for your mind-body system. As we inch towards The Work pay close attention to your reactions and start to make a list of the people and situations in your life that cause you to react. We are getting deeper....

Namaste,

Steve
Yogi Jayanta



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