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Yoga & Psychotherapy (The Evolution of Consciousness)

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Item Code: NAG268
Author: Various Authors
Publisher: Himalayan Institute
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9780893890360
Pages: 309
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9 inch X 6 inch
Weight 450 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
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100% Made in India
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23 years in business
Book Description
About the Book
For thousands of years, Yoga has offered what Western therapists are seeking: a way to achieve the total health of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Yoga and psychotherapy provides a unique comparison of modern therapy and traditional methods. Drawing upon a rich diversity of experience, the authors give us detailed examples of how the ancient findings of yoga can be used to supplement or replace some of the less complete Western theories and techniques. Yoga and Psychotherapy is accessible to the layperson, yet detailed enough to be of value to the professional.

About the Author
Swami Rama, one of the greatest masters from the Himalayas, is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in India, he studied in both India and Europe and received his spiritual training in the Himalayan cave monasteries and in Tibet. His best-known work, living with the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.

Rudolph Ballentine, MD, is a leader in the field of alternative and complementary medicine. A graduate of Duke University Medical School, he lectures extensively in the United States and other countries. Dr. Ballentine is the author of several books, including Radical Healing, Diet and Nutrition: A Holistic Approach, which has sold over 100,000 copies and Transition to Vegetarianism: An Evolutionary step.

Swami Ajaya, PhD, received his education at Wesleyan University and at the University of California, Berkeley. He taught at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, Wisconsin, and has served as a consulting psychologist. In addition to his Western training, Swami Ajaya has studied with various yogis in India. He is the author of Yoga Psychology: A practical guide to Meditation and Psychotherapy East and West: A Unifying paradigm.

Two and a half years ago we were driving in a blue jeep station wagon, winding up and down the mountain roads along the edge of the Himalayas. We had just come from a week's retreat at a small, little-known, but "sacred" spot, hidden in the pine trees of the mountain forest. It was accessible only by foot along a five-mile mountain road. We had parked the jeep and climbed with backpacks to this idyll of serenity, living in an earthen house, spending our days in quiet contemplation.

Now we had descended to the waiting jeep and were winding our way back to civilization. The carburetor on our wagon was having trouble breathing in the high mountain air. After choking intermittently for a few miles, it gave out completely. As we sat in a ditch by the road waiting for the car to be repaired, we began to talk about our common work as therapist.

Rudy had just met Swami Rama and me a few weeks earlier. A year before he had given up a professorship at a leading medical school to travel to India and learn the ancient science of yoga. He came without knowing anyone and spent his first few months in his adopted homeland learning Hindi and hatha yoga and becoming emaciated. Soon after we met he began traveling with us. I had just been initiated into the Order of Swamis a few weeks earlier.

Until now we had been so absorbed in our new adventure that we hadn't thought much about the worlds we had temporarily left behind. We were now, however, beginning our descent to Rishikesh. In a week we would drive to New Delhi, take a plane to New York, and a short time later find ourselves home again. Our thoughts began to return to the work we had left. It seemed natural enough for us, during this lull in our journey, to begin comparing the Western approached to Psychotherapy to what we were learning of yoga.

I began to talk about the way a yoga student relates to his teacher. Many young adults who find a genuinely advanced teacher think of him or her as a new parent and become less preoccupied with hang-ups relating to their real parents. These old conflicts seem to become less important and fade3 into the background. I suggested to Rudy that thinking of the more ideal guru as one's father might shortcut the whole process of therapy. Instead of spending long hours reliving one's childhood experiences he could just replace the expectations created there by ori8enting himself toward the more constructive and supportive expectations of the teacher. I suggested that one might thus shed all his preoccupations and distortions related to his parents, severing the knot of his neurosis in one swoop.

It was, as it's been throughout our writing, characteristic of me to make broad generalizations without thinking through their more subtle implications. Rudy, being, thorough in examining the proposition, responded after some thought. It wouldn't really help at all. You'd just develop a distorted concept of the teacher. You would project your expectations onto him. In spite of his acceptance, you would tend to see hem otherwise as very authoritarian, for example." This led us to a discussion of the similarity between transferring distortions onto the guru and the process of transference that occurs in the patient's relationship to his therapist. We began to become aware of similarities as well as differences between the way the Eastern teacher and the therapist help the patient or student to become aware of his distortions and to give them up. This dialogue led to an examination of a whole host of concepts that seemed to overlap in yoga and modern Psychology.

It was not long after this that Swami Rama began encouraging us to write a book together. He had begun teaching us yoga Psychology more intensively during our remaining stay in India and continued to work with us when we arrived back in the United States.

He had been trained in yoga from early childhood and was selected at the age of twenty-four to serve as the successor to Dr. Kurtkoti as the prestigious Shankaracharya on the Gaddi of Karvirpitham in South India, one of the heads of the learned monastic tradition in India. In order to compete with other scholars for this position he had thoroughly learned the ancient texts and their many commentaries and interpretations. As he grew up he was sent to study with many of the great masters of India and even spent a number of years studying and teaching in the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet. Swamiji was also thoroughly acquainted with the many practical schools of yoga.

His understanding of the long history of yoga psychology and experiences with the practical application of yoga therapy is unparalleled. Furthermore, he had studied modern psychology, Philosophy, and medicine extensively in Europe and had earned an advanced degree in Psychology as well as a graduate degree from medical school. Swami Rama had lectured and served as consultant at several institutes and universities in Europe as well as the Menninger Foundation in the United States. With this background he was able to guide us in our comparisons of Eastern and Western psychologies.

We had not realized that were would be a means of helping Swamiji bring the rich tradition of yoga Psychology to the West, to help pull together his teachings and put them up against the current Western psychology and psychotherapy that we had learned earlier.

In the two summers that followed, including several nights where we worked into the dawn, there were many consultations with Swamiji. Occasionally we'd talk until three or four o'clock on the morning as Swamiji helped clarify a confusion in our thinking. When we ran into dead ends or misinterpreted basic psychological terms from the Eastern tradition, Swamiji would give us the correct explanation, refer us to the proper texts, and we'd again revise our thoughts and writing.

But our understanding of yoga psychology does not come so much from our reading and study as from our own experiences of growth through the use of yoga methods and direct personal guidance of our teacher. Our retrospective observation of Swamiji working with us and other students provided the deepest insights into the methods of yoga therapy.

Psychology has made its appearance on the stage of Western science only in the last century. After developing elaborate sciences of the external world and conquering nature, Western man has at last started to turn his curiosity back toward himself. So has begun the exciting exploration of the inner being, his behavior, his motivation, and that elusive something called his "mind." In short, we have begun to look at ourselves and wonder, "What makes us tick?"

This exploration has met with varying success. The ingenuity and the technology, which made possible the conquest of the New World and travel to outer space, often seen awkward and inappropriate as Western man steps tentatively and gingerly into the charting of inner space. We have run through our repertoire of conceptual and technological tools, sometimes with success, at other times with failure. We have gone from the speculative metaphysical pondering of the mind and the meaning of behavior to the minute reporting of sensory impressions, and ultimately to the technologically sophisticated measurement of Physiological processes and observable behavior. We have emerged with only patches of understanding and insight. Our field of behavioral Science and psychology is a crazy quilt of theories, systems, and methodologies rich in its variety but disappointing in its lack of coherence. No matter which way we turn, we seem to stumble over the same old obstacles: Where does Psychology stop and Philosophy start? How can we distinguish between the normal and the "abnormal?" How can we deal scientifically with a subject's report of his private experience? What is the relationship between the body and the mind? What, for that matter, is a "mind?"

There is an old Chinese proverb: "Learn from the ancient ones, and learn from those of foreign lands." Western science has at times followed this dictum, beginning with the rediscovery of Plato and extending to the search of the modern pharmacologist who stomps his way through the steamy jungles of Brazil in pursuit of some witch doctor's herb that might combat cancer.

A bit of this spirit can be sensed also in the field of Psychology. Some of the more intrepid adventures have set out to investigate the effects of ancient ritual drugs like mescaline and psilocybin. Others show area wakened interest in the aboriginal inhabitants of America, not merely as objects of anthropological study, but as men with an insight into human nature that might offer us some fertile ideas. Social Psychologists are looking with some curiosity toward the Chinese communes, while in laboratories from New Delhi to Topeka, Psycho-Physiologists are hooking polygraphs to accomplished yogis in an attempt to gain some understanding of those bodily process which go awry in Psychosomatic disease.

Yoga has attracted particular attention in part because it appears to be one of the oldest continuous disciplines studying voluntary physical and mental control and the induction of altered states of consciousness. Interest has also been due in part to the persistent rumors of outstanding physical and mental feats attributed to the practitioners of yoga. Such rumors have also served, of course, to attract those whose interest in sensationalism is stronger than their interest in science. Only now, with the advent of electroencephalographic and Psycho physiological instruments, are we becoming able to test to the satisfaction of the scientific community the validity of some of those claims made by the proponents of yoga. As a result of this serious re-examination of the Indian yoga tradition, an intriguing picture begins to emerge.

Available historical data is a confusing mixture of legend and recorded facts. Because of the antiquity of the subject, many of the traditions and formulations were handed down orally for millennia. The systematized discipline of yoga has apparently been practiced in essentially the same form as today over some thousands of years. Estimates run from one thousand to four thousand years and up. From the data available, it seems clear that an unbroken chain of highly trained teachers and students have devoted themselves intensively to the rigorous practice of self-observation. Through such a systematic study of mental states and their accompanying physical sensations, a methodical and accurate means of studying one's internal organs and physiological processes gradually developed. In the usual sequence of scientific events, observation led to the ability to predict, and this ultimately led to the ability to control. With the advent of this mastery, it did indeed become logical events that lead to psychosomatic illnesses. In this fashion, the yogis became renowned for their health and resistance to disease.

The evolution of the discipline did not stop there, however. To those with a bent possible to perform physiological feats which seemed "miraculous," as well as to intervene in the chain of physio-for exploring their mental processes more deeply, it became apparent that this control over physical processes enabled one to eliminate many of the physiological and sensory distractions that interfere with introspection. One could, as it were, create his own "sensory deprivation" situation. Furthermore, the control over physio- logical process enabled one to control his metabolism and induce changes that would serve to further alter the state of consciousness. At this point was begun the intensive and systematic study of the altered states of consciousness, a study which has continued over many centuries and attained a high degree of refinement. The understanding of mental and physical processes gained from the vantage point of such heightened states of awareness became the foundations of what is called "yoga science."

Such is the sort of history of yoga that one can piece together from the available information. Controlled experiments done both in the West and in India have begun to confirm this general picture of the accomplishments and potential of yoga science. Systematic treatment of patients suffering from physical or psychosomatic ailments with yoga asanas and science of breathing and meditational techniques has produced objective evidence of definite improvement. Research in America has yielded clear-cut data demonstrating the effectiveness of certain meditational states in the easing of anxiety. Psychophysiological monitoring during self-induced altered states of consciousness has demonstrated that remarkable feats of autonomic control are indeed possible and in certain cases such techniques have been mastered by patients with psychosomatic illness with a remarkable degree of improvement.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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