We’re not always happy. This isn’t just about me. I’m not sure why anyone would want to be happy all the time. Or sad. Or some gray, in-between. Any person with eyes that see the world could not possibly remain happy. Nor could they remain sad. If they do, something is has gone wrong. Some part of their vision of themselves, or of the world, has become blocked and set into a reinforcing loop.
Oddly, I’m reminded of a science fiction movie I saw years ago, where a machine could record people’s thoughts and feelings. And those thoughts and feelings could be played back into another, for them to fully experience. At one point, a scientist recorded himself having sex with someone, and one of his colleagues spliced the recording so that the orgasm was played over and over again, continuously. He was found a day later, staring ahead with a peculiar blank look upon his face, mildly twitching and completely disconnected from reality. I have little doubt the result would be the same, with pain.
The experiences we have in life are transitory; lived and then left only within our memories. It is the curse, and the blessing of our consciousness as it moves through time, that we might only experience a singular moment, and then it is gone. And yet some part of ourselves remembers, and some part of ourselves anticipates the future, and another part paints shades of color onto all we see and know around us, colored by our memory and colored by what we imagine might be. And this is how, as each of our true moments pass, that our histories steer our way into our future.
Psychologists like to enter a person’s past to uncover those memories which exert a force upon our present perceptions. The goal is to “integrate” problem memories, through a process of discovery and acceptance. Only then, they believe, can our futures be unfold how they ought to, with those biases and predispositions tamed. On the other hand, psychiatrists will often leave memories however they might be, unexplored, and instead will dole out drugs meant to “balance” the chemicals within our brains to help us become happier, with little regard to our life’s experiences.
Eastern philosophies often take a different approach. For them, there is little separation between the mind and the body. What happens to our psychology becomes manifest within the body. And conversely, what happens to the body, becomes manifest within the mind. They are inseparable. They are aware that memories cannot be simply reasoned into behaving, any more than a cancer in the body will leave the mind untouched when it is cured. Their notion for our betterment is the unblocking of all that accumulates within us, in both body and mind, to achieve a harmony – even when the harmony achieved is different from how we imagine ourselves to be. In fact, how we imagine ourselves to be is a blockage in and of itself. For while we are alive, we are forever changing.
It may seem strange to ask this question: “what is the difference between psychology and yoga?” The psychologist archetype would look at you funny and answer, psychology is a science while yoga is exercise. However, a yogi would answer quite differently: “psychology is about confusion and suffering. Yoga is about bliss.” But bliss is really just a word that westerners easily understand. The actual word is samadhi. It is not happy. And it is not sad. Nor is it some gray in-between. It is an integration and acceptance of all that we are, physically, mentally and spiritually — an integration that is experienced wholly in the moment — an empty yet wholly connected balance of our essence.
Interestingly, this is true for more than just yoga. Similar thinking is prevalent in Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Tui Na, and even various eastern religions. I suppose it is not too surprising that a more holistic approach to medicine, which we are only just now adopting in the West, comes to us, in large part, from civilizations thousands of years older than our own. But I do admit, and so do they, that Western medicine is much better at treating broken bones, or other various traumatic injuries that Eastern medicine, as well as many physical diseases.
What we cannot overlook, though, is the totality of the person. To set a broken shin is not to balance the forces of the body, through the hips, and into the other leg, to relieve the small turning that will result in the spine and travel up into the neck and shoulders. To treat the psychological effects of PTSD is not to alleviate the memories stored in the body through tightening inward, and the quick motions of alert musculature. So often people are simply left to suffer whatever fate they feel befalls them from various injuries, both physical and psychological, and to assume that their lot is sealed, when in actuality, they are only half healed.
It is a time of injury, for many people right now. Injuries of all types and sizes, both superficial, and ones that run very deep. Be conscious of the blockages you have. You can feel them within both your mind and your body. This is not your fate, except in very rare circumstances. But it is your choice.
All good change begins in humility, moving through openness and finally that small bit of bravery. Look beyond what you are, and what you know. Because what you know, is really just illusion, in a universe of change. And that is you.