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Yoga Psychology and the Importance of Dreams for mental health

By Arun Goel

To understand the cause of all mental conflicts and diseases, we must understand that the mind comprises a conscious part and a sub conscious part.

Conflicts and mental turbulence occurs because we cannot reconcile our conscious part with what is going on inside the deeper realms of the mind. Further, the subconscious mind itself is the home of many negative thoughts that are in a constant tussle with each other.

The aim in yoga psychology (as also in the modern psychology that we are aware of) is to reconcile these conflicts and bring them in harmony with the conscious mind.

How the subconscious is formed

According to Swami Satyananda every action has a momentum. At the end of every momentum a seed is dropped into the subconscious, which is a memory of that action. These 'seeds' are called Samskaras in yoga or archetypes in psychology.

The mind has a way to bury unpleasant memories and negative experiences into its depths. So the subconscious is a cumulative memory of countless experiences and thoughts including negative emotions.

Dream analysis is an important part of psychology wherein suppressed unconscious material is discovered and then released. The practitioner introspects on the subconscious messages that are being perceived by the dreaming mind.

The yoga solution

The yoga counterpart of this is 'antar mouna' (inner silence). This is a meditation technique in yoga which helps in performing the same function.

There are 2 main differences between conventional dream analysis and the yoga technique of 'antar mouna'. In antar mouna, you are your own psychologist. There is no other person doing it for you. The second important difference is that in 'antar mouna' the aim is to remain fully conscious at all times. In dream analysis that is not the case.

In this yoga technique you are taught to bring out your unconscious thoughts by provoking them and then witnessing the thought pattern. According to Swami Satyananda, when a thought comes into your mind, you can break out of the conflict by learning to remain just a mute witness to it. If you become involved in it, then it will go back to be recycled at a later date. Therefore, you are encouraged to be a witness to the thought pattern and then throw out the worthless thought.

In antar mouna you are taught to see your mind as it is now and proceed into the state of thoughtlessness. You are taught to be aware of your dream in the conscious state. Once this is achieved, you can also learn to be aware of your dream in the sleeping state.

This yoga technique when learnt, helps to resolve the deepest of fears and neuroses and brings about a calmness and tranquility in every day life. You can learn to communicate with the psychic level of your awareness which forms the bedrock of all dreams and visions.

Related Pages
Meditation Techniques

This article is based upon my limited knowledge and interpretation of insightful teachings of learned practitioners of the Bihar School of Yoga. I have drawn from their publications and views in this essay. My heartfelt gratitude to them for providing me a direction.

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