When we gather to practice yoga, whether together or on our own, we get to bring special awareness to phenomena we are experiencing all the time. Each asana brings a different set of emotions and sensations and associations. We might find ourselves feeling the heat of rigorous effort, the delight of feeling our bodies open a little more, the frustration of confronting a limitation. We might notice all kinds of thoughts about how we measure up to others in the class, or to someone we saw in a magazine once. We may find ourselves bored or distracted in a pose that doesn’t hold much stimulation for us, or completely overwhelmed by a pose that does.
During each asana, we can practice noticing what happens as we encounter the vast range of different sensations and feelings that might come up. And we can even get pretty skilled at working with ourselves so we can stay with whatever feeling or sensation a little longer—sometimes long enough to change how we experience ourselves in relation to it.
The same is true in a somatic psychotherapy session. A yoga practice or a therapy session—these are both just defined spaces for looking more closely and carefully at what is happening within us so that we can experiment with different ways of relating to it.
Tantric philosophy suggests that these inner experiences that emerge during a practice or a session are just vibrations—just energy and matter clanging together in ways that feel one way or the other. (Incidentally, Tantric philosophy and quantum physics agree that everything is made of vibrations—not just our inner experiences.) These vibrations aren’t good or bad, right or wrong. Vibrations are just vibrations.
Even so, we dread certain poses for the kinds of vibrations they bring up in us, and we tend to avoid those poses. We gleefully practice other poses for the vibrations they bring up in us. We tend to get very skilled with those.
Of course, this is true throughout our lived experience. We avoid the relationships and pursuits that bring up inner sensations and feelings that are harder to hold. Or if we can’t avoid those triggers we find ways to numb out the inner experiences they elicit. We can go on like this for years, avoiding whole aspects of ourselves. As a result big parts of ourselves can get shut down, or remain under explored. All because the vibrations felt too big or too intense—or too something—to be with for any length of time.
What if instead of defending against them, we could practice supporting ourselves in staying with these vibrations just a little longer? We could slowly expand our capacity to step closer to them and see what they are made of. We could notice what happens if we keep breathing as we approach. What might our repertoire of poses or relationships or endeavors include if every inner experience were explored in this way?