The Art & Science of Physical / Mental Yoga
Yoga Principles & Philosophy
The Experiential & Scientific Foundations
of Yoga from the DSL Perspective
On the Merging of Arts & Sciences of
Feeling AND Thinking in Physical/Mental & Therapeutic Yoga
One important benefit of studying yoga is it can, more than most systems, get us more in touch with our body and mind, and their sense of integration or connectedness — or lack of it. One of many things that yoga is is a way to discover, open up and maximize internal feedback systems within our BodyMinds. This in turn opens us up to more feedback about the world, and the people, outside our skin.
Your Human BodyMind:
A Tool of Self-Study
Your body is an amazing, finely tuned instrument, able to feel and see deeply into, to examine, itself.
Unlike more mechanical systems of therapy and exercise, a unique feature of physical/mental yoga (which by definition includes meditation) is your opportunity to spend long periods of time actually studying in minute detail what is happening in your bodymind. Your bodymind provides you with information and feedback about many events and processes; events that are internal, as well our reactions and responses to external events. Much, if not all, of your history is also stored in the neuromuscular and myofascial system.
A Right Angle In Time
One aspect of Meditation is the Right Angle To Time. It is like a 3-dimensional snapshot of yourself at one instant, one “Timeless Moment” in time.
Yet in that moment exists much activity, all happening & converging in the present moment. Yet expressing and reflecting much, if not your entire, history, and much, if not all, of what you’ve learned and experienced in your lifetime (relevant to that particular moment).
Some people believe it’s ALL recorded — and to varying degrees accessible — all the way back to the beginning of your life. (I would say at the point where the nervous system has developed enough to record sensory and/or motor activity, which is probably a little different for everyone.)
Modern Neuro Science says it is unlikely the brain or mind actually “record” anything. They say the human mind is NOT like a computer or tape recorder at all. … However, they STILL have no really good ideas about how the mind REALLY works anyway. So we’ll use the term “record” for now, yet remaining open to the idea that’s really the wrong concept.
Are “Static” Yoga Postures Truly “Static”
“Recorded” or not, the outer movements of a so-called “static” yoga posture might outwardly appear quite still, yet deep within, fantastic amounts of very subtle activity (such as the relentless, cascading firing of synapses, the near-continual flow of neurotransmitters, and the subtle contractions and relaxations of muscle fibers, and so on) are expressing your past conditioning and responses to current reality in each and every present moment. It is like a whole universe — past, present and the potential future — revealing itself in one moment in time.
A Creative, Multi-Dimensional, Self-Study of “The Self” and How We Relate
We can create the opportunity to explore and study ourselves in much depth and detail. In the process, the inherent Power of Awareness can bring about many changes, some subtle, others grand, some instantaneous, others occurring over long periods of time.
As discussed elsewhere on this site, there are Microgenetic Moments, where brain waves reaching down into the body meet sensations and signals reaching up from the body toward the brain and mind. When and where these waves converge become healing moments, bringing great and desirable, even profound change and integration, sometimes throughout your whole bodymind.
The more we practice using this yogic system, the more it reveals to us.
Once Again, our Definition of “Yoga,” from Joel Kramer, is:
The Quality of Attention One Pays to
Whatever They’re Doing or Being
We do this by learning to Pay Attention to the sensations, feelings and movements, and our responses to them. The very act of doing so actually facilitates nerve pathways delivering information throughout your body and to & from your mind. We literally practice and fine-tune the Art of Feeling and Interpreting messages and functions flowing through our conscious and, to the degree possible, our sub-conscious processes.
Paying Attention is, in our Model,
the Essence of Awareness
This way, we have access to our very own, highly sensitive instrument of self-study and observation — Personal, Internal Research, if you will.
But There Are Limitations …
Yet it is true that while the body never lies, we don’t always get a clear picture of what it’s trying to tell us, of what’s actually happening from feelings and sensations alone. There are certain limitations on how accurately the physical and emotional sensations can be converted to our mental and more linear interpretations.
Part of this is because the human nervous system is in great part a Negative Feedback System. It very often tells you more about your reactions to phenomena, rather than their cause or source. In many cases, we feel the symptoms more than we feel the causes. This is why, for example, people can eat donuts or candy for many years before they feel the accumulating, negative effects of refined sugar and other carbohydrates. While often accurate, relying strictly on what we feel “In-the-Moment” can in many instances lead us to very inaccurate — sometimes opposite, and dangerous — interpretations of what’s actually going on.
The Art of Feeling PLUS Rational Processes
Therefore, along with practicing and learning the Art of Feeling through Non-Rational processes, we must also become better at feeding and using our Rational and Intellectual processes. This involves providing the rational, analytical mind with accurate (to the best of our ability) data AND learning the Tools of Thinking.
One of these tools is the Scientific Method. With it, we learn how to examine and evaluate natural, physical phenomena, and how to interpret the information and insights we gain. Yes, like intuition and feelings, it has its own limitations, but is invaluable to truly understanding the natural world and our physical selves.
BodyMind & Physical Sciences
The primary material we’ll use to learn about the scientific method and effective thinking will be in the various sciences you’ll be learning to make yourself into a more effective, knowledgeable and insightful Yoga Practitioner, Educator or Therapist.
To get an overview of these sciences, please see this List of the Sciences we’ll be studying.
At the Physical Level:
• Structural Anatomy — Physical Components of the Body
• Functional Kinesiology — How Muscle / Bone Components interact
• Neuro-Musculo-Fascial Physiology — Structural & Functional processes
• Neurology — Control Systems*
• Physical Sciences — External & Internal forces acting upon the body
At the Psycho-Emotional Level:
• BIO-Logical Semantics — How language affects physiology
• Psycho-Physiology — How the body influences the mind
• Conative* Forces — What motivates the human being
• Psychology — Fears, motives, processes making us “tick”
* Conation: (conative) the mental faculty of purpose, desire, or will to perform an action; volition.
These Tools of Thinking and Scientific Topics are essentially concepts we’ll use to examine how we think, what we think about, and how we apply our thinking processes. … Then we practice applying those concepts, something that takes energy and commitment. In the process, you’ll learn more about yoga, too.
While it appears to come more naturally to some people, others have to work at it. … Some have to work a LOT.
Intuition & Rational Thought:
Not Necessarily in Conflict
Some people are far more comfortable in what some people call the “Touchy-Feely,” non-linear world. That’s quite alright with me. Yet, without studying via the intellectual, linear and rational processes as well, it is difficult to attain a full understanding, integration and expression of what it is to be a fully actualized human being, let alone how to help it therapeutically. Just as there are vast limitations on those who cannot feel deeply, there are certain things you just cannot do without more refined thinking processes.
Just one example is Advanced Postural Assessment for determining which postures or asana a particular Student or Client should be, or not be, doing. In my experience, those who claim they can do this reliably and consistently through strictly intuitive means are, basically, kidding themselves. Yes, intuition (depending on how you define it) does come into play. But many a skilled intuitive has missed critical information hidden from purely sensory view.
The DSL Professional* Trainings, then, are primarily for those who are interested in developing BOTH sides of Being Human: The Feeling, Meditative, Intuitive side, AND the Rational, Intellectual, Analytical side, and do so in ways that work together, with minimal conflict between. At best, as a unified, whole system. (I am not saying this is always easy, by-the-way. Some people have developed this skill much earlier in life, maybe even have a genetic proclivity. … For myself, I’m still working on it. 🙂 )
Feeling and Thinking are like the two wings of a bird. Birds need both wings to fly to their maximum heights and speed or power. Sure, a bird with one or even both wings damaged or lost can survive for a time; but severe limitations on their “Birdness” are imposed by the loss of only one of their wings.
Much, if not most, of what’s taught in these programs should be known by most everyone who wants to really know what’s going on in their bodymind. Such knowledge is a Tool of Living, not just a tool of therapy. It can be quite helpful for dealing with your own issues, and that of family and friends. These trainings can be presented in a less technical vein for those who are interested, but need a less in-depth, less technical presentation, with less medical jargon.
The War Against Thinking
If you spend enough time around certain groups of people, or reading their stuff, you’ll eventually come across ideas that assert that thinking — and the scientific method — is what has gotten human beings out-of-touch with Nature and God and into Deep Trouble. They adamantly tell us we need to get fully In-Tune with and reliant on our intuition, being fully in-the-moment, operating “instinctually,” and dispense, as completely as possible, with the intellectual, thinking side of the mind. …
Interesting Thought. But it is still a thought, a paradox such thinkers seldom admit to.
Some of them even use the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and their eating from the Forbidden Tree of Knowledge as the source of all humankind’s troubles. (They should read Ken Wilber’s take on that, in his book Up From Eden.)
While you will find no argument from me that far too many people are far TOO rational, and TOO out-of-touch with their feeling, meditative and intuitive side, some of the above mentioned anti-thinking people take it all to the other extreme. It’s as if thinking has let us down and become the enemy.
Of course, as an example of Jnana (Mental) Yoga as taught by Joel Kramer, one could say that the thought that thought is bad is itself a thought. So, if we’re being told that the very existence of thought is THE problem, is it “bad” to think the thought that thought is bad? How far do you have to go with THAT thought to see the potentially endless circularity and that it leads … NO-where, actually. …
Don’t “they” see the mere suggestion of terminating a thought is itself a thought-based concept?
Is it not a bit contradictory, paradoxical, and even arrogant to think TRUE “no-thought-ness” is even possible for more than (relatively) short periods of time? (Unless of course you live in an ashram or a cave, or otherwise outside the flow of ordinary life, in which case you might be able to get away with it longer. A Shepard in the distant hills 500 years ago could probably get away with long periods of no-thoughtness — until a wolf showed up. Come to THINK of it, he probably wouldn’t be thinking much then, either. He’s too busy running!) …
Part of the trouble is some people have a very limited idea of what, exactly, thought really is and how it works, or could work if we knew how.…
The DSL Method of Yoga & Yoga-based Bodywork believes that reality is the other way around.
The cerebral cortex, the rational, intellectual mind, is what enabled human beings to make discoveries and inventions allowing us to get beyond the (usually) daily brink of starvation, to discover and know there are regular cycles of seasons and how to grow food in tune with the changes in weather (an insight that is NOT easily and naturally intuitive), to build shelters that protect us from the elements, to develop herbal medicines and healing processes, and so on. …
Some of these things seem SO obvious to us today. Yet it often took hundreds or thousands of years for some of these ideas or observations to percolate up to the surface of consciousness.
It is the rational mind that plays a great part in the discovery and process of Being Human, and of Yoga, as well.
No. … It is WE who have let thinking down. It is WE who’ve not invested the time, energy, study and practice necessary to use the conscious, rational, linear mind — nor the scientific method — to its fullest. One reason is it takes WORK, mental energy, to think effectively & efficiently. Energy that many people prefer to not exert. …
But the tools of effective and productive, even satisfying, thinking ARE there, if we only pick them up and learn how to use them, and then … USE THEM! … And used correctly, they become the natural balance and complement to our intuitive, feeling, meditative side.
As Joel Kramer, my primary yoga teacher, and whom a number of people call The Father of American Yoga said:
The Head without the Heart is Barren. …
The Heart without the Head is Chaos.
If this path of exploring and merging BOTH of these two vastly important — and useful! — elements of being human interests you, then this website, and DSL Let-Go Yoga, are for you.
I will soon have various links to articles, reports and e-courses helping you along this path. In the meantime, you could sign up for my e-Letter so you can keep up on what’s happening here. … And LEARN stuff, too.
Thanks For Reading,
David Scott Lynn (DSL*)
* DSL: Your Hi-Touch Up-Link to the Inner-Net*
* Inner-Net: Your Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial System