Psyche and Mindfulness
Welcoming the Wisdom of Your True Nature
Suzanne Szalay, M.D.

Yoga and analytic depth work have much in common. Both engage awareness in the practice of yajna. Yajna means ‘to sacrifice,’ and also ‘to make sacred.’ Central to yoga and to the philosophy of India is the surrender of lower self to higher Self. Analytic depth work similarly focuses on stretching beyond the ego’s habitual perspective into the wisdom of the Self’s frame of reference. Obstacles and difficulties then become sacred opportunities to grow in awareness. 

In the yoga of analytic depth work, obstacles and difficulties are placed in the service of transforming your postures—your habitual (often unconscious) habits of mind. Depth work draws these postures into conscious awareness, and helps you access inner resources for their transformation. Each time you sacrifice some habitual posture—one that does not serve the Self—and stretch into new postures with the help of psyche, you align with the sacred wisdom of the Self. In this way the yoga of analytic depth work is the practice of conscious yajna.

Yajna itself is a fact of life. To be alive is to participate in yajna—to eat or be eaten—to sacrifice your own habitual attitudes, or (more often than not) to be consumed by them! From moment to moment we participate, mainly as unconscious victims. Instead you can draw on the wisdom of the Self. You can engage with psyche’s symbolic language and use it to raise your postures to awareness. The messages encrypted in dreams, symptoms, and outer predicaments all position you to transform debilitating habits of mind. Then you participate in yajna as a conscious instrument of transformation.

Difficulties serve us in meaningful ways—they are opportunities to practice yoga and to engage in conscious yajna—to sacrifice debilitating habits of mind. Yet mostly we respond to difficulties by relying on our habits of mind. Habitual attitudes (especially the unconscious ones) can tighten to the point of rigidity. Tightness does not serve the Self’s creative unfolding. Consumed by your own habitual postures, you then remain a victim of your biased ego.

Depth work helps you to stretch into the wisdom of the Self. It enables you to strengthen new muscles, and practice postures (attitudes) that offset or even oppose your unconscious, automatic tendencies. Each time you sacrifice your attachment to some debilitating habitual attitude, you make your ego more flexible. Then you engage in conscious yajna.

Yoga—the transformation of a person—cannot be accomplished without conscious yajna, without the sacrifice of habitual postures (attitudes) that do not serve the wholeness of the Self. And while the fact of yajna is not a choice, from moment to moment you can choose how you participate. You can remain a victim of your habitual attitudes, and suffer the consequences of your attachments to them. Or you can be an instrument of conscious yajna—you can raise your troublesome habitual attitudes to conscious awareness and suffer the sacrifice of your attachments to them.

And so, in the midst of any reaction to aversion, fear, or longing, ask yourself, ‘Does my attitude support the intention of the Self? Or does it keep me the victim of some habit of mind?’ When you practice this way, every difficulty becomes your yoga teacher!

                            © Suzanne Szalay, M.D.