Western approaches to psychology have many benefits and help us to address issues and make concrete changes in our lives. While effective in many ways, they have some limitations. Western psychology addresses issues at level of the mind. While this brings awareness to our issues and, sometimes their cause, most issues stem from deeper places in our consciousness than the mind. We may become self-aware, yet remain wounded.
The roots of our issues usually lie in the subconscious and beyond. The subconscious roots of our disharmonies and blockages can be felt in subtle emotion-sensations in the body. Through learning to listen to those subtle emotion-sensations, we can open up the way to deeper self-awareness, and effectively access and release the core issues.
Psychology of the East – inward focus
The unique contributions of the East to modern psychology are ideas and techniques to help us delve inwards, into our inner self.
While meditation is the most common way of focusing inwards, meditation does not always give us the means to heal emotionally. Meditation sometimes even leads us to bypass the issues that are wreaking havoc in our lives.
Mindfulness and breathwork are two safe, effective and gentle tools for gaining access to the inner self. While focusing inward, we can learn to listen to the language of our emotions and become attuned to how subtle sensations in the body guide us to understanding. Little by little, we walk inward with our awareness, reach the deep roots of our disharmonies and release them.
Blending Western psychology with Inward Understanding for Greater Healing
The tools of Western psychology and psychotherapy can help us focus our behaviour, our thoughts and our attitudes. Eastern thought can help us go beyond these mirrors of the inner self and enable us to reach and heal the core of our issues opening the way to our inner self.
Consider a person trying to build self-esteem. We can try to develop self-esteem through conscious effort. If, however, the roots of our self-esteem are deeply buried in childhood name-calling or other early trauma, developing self-esteem through conscious effort will be stymied by our unconscious wounds. Until we liberate the emotional pressure around that wound, we will not overcome the self-esteem issue.