Within each path of yoga, there is a different understanding of psychology. For yogis, psychology has been around since long before Freud. Yogis have been studying the mind and the impressions of the mind since time immemorial. While western science gave it a term more recently, it is a very old and ancient study.
According to this ancient philosophy, when you first come into manifestation you arrive as Pure Awareness. This is one way to try to describe the multitude of ways that humans try to point towards the pure essence of your being. We could call it the Soul, Universal Being, the Higher Self, Christ Consciousness, God, there are so many names but for now, we will call it Pure Awareness.
The experience of pain
From here what begins to happen is the experience of pain. From the womb to birth, pain begins. Talking about experiencing pain does not mean that you didn’t have a happy childhood. This doesn’t mean that your parents didn’t love you or give you a good childhood. It is as simple as falling off your bike, getting lost at a mall, your first heartbreak, and so on. These pains start to shape the mind and create conditioned responses to pain. These responses often form as defense mechanisms. Then as an adult when experiences happen that slightly reminds us of our old pains we begin to get defensive. We felt lonely as a child so we’re very extroverted adults in order to avoid ever having to feel lonely again. This is just one example, but there are an infinite amount of ways that this could manifest through conditioning.
From these conditioned responses, we then form a mask or strong sense of identity around our conditionings. We create an identity, a separate/false self to protect us from the pain that we could not tolerate as children.
We are all looking for love
In the beginning, we believe that this love is outside, and so we develop tendencies to behave in ways that we think will get us love and cause us to avoid pain. For example. 'the lonely one' feels love when they’re extroverted and avoids the pain they think they’ll feel in being alone.
We have many masks and conditionings involved in making up our separate/false selves. However, when we turn our attention towards our various masks, conditioning, and pains we start to create a crack in the separate self that can bring us directly to our true essence as Pure Awareness. If I can see through the pattern in my mind, then it becomes difficult to play it out when we’ve seen it as nothing more than a learned script. Neurological perspective on conditioning
When we first come into the world the hill ( the mind) has no paths, no impressions; it is pure powder ( pure potentiality). The more the skiers travel down the hill the more worn down the path becomes. In the same way the more travelled a neurological path the more likely the neurons will travel that way. An event happens in your life that is quite impactful. Neurons take the fastest and most familiar route. So for example, you were bit by a dog as a child and you experienced fear. This event became incredibly significant, a lot of neurons were fired, creating an association between the dog and the fear response (neurons that fire together wire together). This then created a neural impression, which subsequently means that when you hear a dog you immediately feel fear. This becomes a learned and conditioned response to life.
Yoga and meditation help us to re-route these particular neural pathways. Acting in life rather than reacting, allows us to be natural and spontaneous in how we are moving in the world. Through awareness we start to become more and more aware of the patterns of the mind, and are able to start to make the choice to do something different from our conditioned responses.
You don't need to fix something
There is another perspective, the one of Pure Awareness. The mind is appearing within Pure Awareness. From this perspective there is no de-conditioning or re-conditioning that is required. We simply witness whatever appears in our awareness. They start to dissipate because we don’t give them any attention. And our attention carries energy. Wherever our attention goes energy flows. Our conditionings naturally start to fall away.
The infinite Pure Awareness has nothing to fix and is in complete harmony and equanimous with whatever rises. Knowing that all experiences come and go and the only thing that remains is Pure Awareness. You may feel as though these two parts of yourself are contradictory but they can unfold at the same time.
Join us for our free mini teacher training to dive into yoga & philosophy and begin your journey to decondition your mind.