Yoga and the Brain Day 3: Golden Shadow

Another morning in beautiful Venice Beach, California learning and living the teachings of Yoga psychology. I was so excited after our morning yoga routine because we had a taste of Yoga Nidra from our instructor’s assistant, Ally Boothroyd, owner of Sarovara yoga in Ontario, Canada. Yoga Nidra is like the best relaxation ever. It’s nothing like traditional ideas of Yoga.

All in Shavasana (lying down in a comfortable position using props and blankets) Ally guided us all into a Theta state of deep meditation. This was my first time to participate in Yoga Nidra so while it felt like we were meditating for 15 min, it was more like 40 min. I am so glad I had a chance to experience this style of Yoga. I have felt shy to lead a meditation for that long but the feeling I experienced emerging from this time was so soothing and soft I’m ready to share it in practice. Now let's get back to the Koshas.

Monomaya Kosha is the mental/emotional body. The qualities of instinctual consciousness and perceptions are all linked to this layer. Governed by our thoughts, it can either build us up or tear us down. My mentor Dr. Pieter Rossouw said to me one time,

“be careful what you say to yourself, you are always listening”

The impact our thoughts have on us is brain changing, literally. Pause for a moment and imagine your favorite ice cream. Now sit for a moment visualizing its container, color, temperature, taste. No really, try it. ……………………………………………. Notice how the pathways in our brain begin to signal that we might want ice cream in the near future. On a side note, this is the impact of advertising on our brain, oh consumerism!

Thoughts become things and what I came to learn is that my shadow from Day 2 was a product of the thought pattern I had held myself hostage to. This thought pattern arose out of my family values, belief, interactions and who I felt I needed to be for them. You might have heard of attachment issues, well this is what we are talking about. We explored our family interactions creating a family map (genogram) and looking at how we connected. We explored if the connections established were either

1. Emotionally Attuned-Did I feel felt, heard, validated

2. Physically Attuned-Did I receive appropriate physical connection, interaction, attention

All experiences, good and bad, I had along my life journey created a pattern of thinking about myself, others, environments (basically judgments) influencing my behavior. These behavior patterns are called Samskara. To reshape my Samskara (behavior patterns) I needed to explore my “Golden Shadow”. I laughed a little when I saw this at training. What the heck is the “Golden Shadow?” Well, I came to learn the GS is the reflection of who we wish to be by admiring others. We were prompted to write a letter to someone we look up to and highlight what we admire about them (this is our GS, get it?) This posed a bit of a challenge to me because I felt like inauthentic.

My heart was pulling me to write to my own self. I went into this activity emotionally detached thinking it would be easy (Samskara, old pattern). What my writing revealed to me was raw, emotional, familiar and distant all at the same time. I am sharing my letter. This is incredibly scary as I fear judgement, but I choose to no longer live behind my shadow. My action in sharing is the very essence of reshaping of my Samskara.

Dear Kelly,
When I look at you I see smiles friendliness and openness. I feel warm and safe. You are a pillar of courage ready to weather any storm. You are also a reminder of life by allowing yourself to feel and be vulnerable. You remind me of my Grandmother, Mother, Sister and best friends. I can’t wait to embrace what you know.

I am not a journal writer but I do find value in writing thoughts down. My initial reaction to this experience was one of what's the point? Even with my lack of excitement, the healing power of the brain engaged by simply putting pen to paper. Sometimes it's really that simple. I was reminded of myself and who I know I am. Movement in writing is movement in brain.

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The Branch Counseling PLLC

4099 McEwen Rd Ste. 780
Farmers Branch, TX 75244

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