8 years ago I turned to the discipline of psychology to seek answers to certain fundamental questions which have kept me busy almost all my life. I was looking for the sense of “I” which was not limited to the one that acts but something or someone more who is behind the one that performs. The first 5 years as a student of western paradigms of psychology, I got some insight and understood how the outer structure of personality can be studied by using certain tools and techniques and the role and relevance of its existence, especially in the field of consumer behavior or neuro psychology, etc. But the behaviour-centric approach never gave me a sense of completeness and left me with a vacuum and desire for a holistic approach towards understanding human beings. I could feel a sense of missing out on something which might complete the story for me. 3 years back I was introduced to the idea of Indian Psychology, specially in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings, and it opened a whole new field of knowledge for me and helped me develop a subjective inner lens to view the field of psychology. I undertook the journey of viewing psychology from a deeper perspective with an intention to develop an inside-out approach to psychology. It led me to a journey of self-discovery and studying my own psychological processes. The path I have begun to tread has brought me closer to my own self and the journey is a continuous one.
The framework I use is of Integral Yoga given by Sri Aurobindo and has a Consciousness based world view. It makes a clear distinction between the surface nature (our outer being which is our identity for the world, generally termed as EGO) and the Inner being which is closer to the true self our scriptures speak about. It talks about the different parts of our being (mind, heart and body) and how all the parts have to be united in an aspiration for the higher force to work through us so that they can express our true self lying deep within. This Re-search journey in the field of Indian Psychology is an attempt to Re-connect with that inner power of self and actively work towards refining this instrument of research which I call Aditi.
Indian Psychology in my experience gives us a sense of freedom wherein either we can restrict ourselves to study the concepts mentally and develop a strong intellectual framework or, along with the developed framework, dwell deeper into the experiential aspect and live those concepts by making them a part of our everyday life. For instance, Equanimity is considered to be the basic and the foremost quality one should ideally possess on the path of spiritual inquiry. Being calm and peaceful in your dealings with the world and acting from a source of detachment with the action, forms the base of an equanimous approach towards life. In my own journey, I could see how initially I began with an intellectual curiosity about the concept and what all has been written about it in the Indian tradition, specifically with reference to Sri Aurobindo’s writings. As I grew deeper in my quest for more, I realized that it’s not about the mental comprehension of the concept but the experiential aspect that brings a permanent change in your being. The mental framework gave me enough grounding to develop my experience and express it in a form that can be understood. I made equanimity my lens to view the world and every time I interacted with the world, my actions travelled through that journey of understanding and application and the active process of living from the deepest space in me at every moment became my priority. Now, as I grow, the space gets deeper and the process more intense. In the beginning, even if I failed to be calm and silent 9 out of 10 times, the one time I succeeded became a part of my system and a motivation to continue on the path. Aspiring for change in action forms the base of my yoga practice.
I have taken up this task of conscious living and becoming aware of the processes to go within as my way of living. This is a work in progress and my purpose is twofold, first, to make a bridge between my inner being and outer self and, second, to tap into that knowledge of the self and bring out human processes that can be applicable to people in general. For the purpose of systematic observation of oneself, it is important to develop an objective view of self and be aware of where we place our sense of ‘I’. The idea is to be able to observe the functioning of different parts of the being – at the mental /physical/emotional level. Like how in any research we observe our participants, it holds true for this, and systematic self-observation is a major tool at help.
In an attempt to make this bridge and get a deeper understanding of my various parts of the being, I have developed various tools to observe myself. In the next few blogs, I will share my toolbox and the processes that got developed on the way. Watch this space for more 🙂