Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Psychotherapist leaves a comment

The blog received the following note in Spanish from an anonymous that did not detail where he/she is from. After asking someone to translate it, I thought it’d be interesting to share it (original note followed by translation).
"He leido el blog, me impactó dad la importancia de empezar a darse cuenta de lo riesgoso del Arte de Vivir para la Salud Mental de muchas personas que lo frecuentan. En mi rol de psicoterapeuta he asistido varias personas que han resultado dañadas psiquicamente por lo que podria decirse "un lavado de cerebro" encubierto con una busqueda espiritual. No discuto los aspectos vinculados a la respiracion que adecuadamente ejercitados pueden ser positivos, me refiero a lo que en general sigue despues con respecto a cierta adoración de un "guru", que se cree una especie de encarnación de dios sobre la tierra, y que el se lo crea sería su problema, el tema que personas que he asistido han sido "programadas" para seguirlo y pierden su propia identidad en una masificación conductual que no puede ser cuestionada, algo asi como que él posee una Verdad y que impide la propia pregunta acerca de ella."

I read the blog. I am happy with the impact it is making. It is important people start to realize how risky AoL is for the mental health of the many people who attend it. In my capacity as a psychotherapist, I have treated several members who have suffered psychological damages. One can say there is “brain-washing” disguised as search for spirituality. I don’t question the benefits of the breathing exercises, which, correctly practiced can be positive. I am referring to what follows, the adoration of a “guru”, someone who believes himself as the embodiment of God on earth. It is his problem if he believes this. But I have noticed in the members I have treated that they were somewhat “programmed” to follow him and loose their own identity to a cultural massification that cannot be questioned. Somehow the idea is he has the Truth and noone is allowed to question it.


Nandita Jayaram said...

"I don’t question the benefits of the breathing exercises, which, correctly practiced can be positive."

The breathing exercises especially the sudarshan kriya as taught in AOL are not always beneficial. In many cases it has resulted in serious damage both physically and psychologically. When such bad effects are reported, AOL teachers are taught to teach some minor variations in these kriyas or they tell people to focus more on silent sitting meditation. Most importantly they supress any bad news on the ill effects of the Kriya. Some people whose body constituion can take rapid breathing exercises continue and get benefitted. A very famous Ayurvedic doctor and Yoga expert from Pune told me that SK and other similar pranayamas can aggravate the doshas in certain body constitutions and such people should be contraindicated to practise that. When my husband (an AOL teacher then) was taking a course he came across a person who reacted very strongly to SK. When this was told to Sri Sri in a small gathering in a room Sri Sri replied that - 'Kriya is good if you are good'. Meaning nothing wrong with the technique as it is inspired and divine and something is wrong with you. Luckily this person realized that SK is not for him and he picked up some other practises from another yoga system and last I met him he was brimming with energy and joy.
One size obviously doesnt fit all and it can be harmful in many cases. Most sincere Yoga teachers know this and they have different set of practices to suit differing needs. In my experience as an AOL teacher majority of the people (I would say around 90%) who take the course drop out of practising the breathing exercises in just a few days. A few continue to their own peril. Many people inspite of not practising the breathing exercises still participate in the satsangs and get the social bonding and belongingness in AOL circles.
I know of many AOL teachers who do not practise Sudarshan Kriya and they do the other traditional pranayamas, asanas and exercises like surya namaskara. But they still do teach Sudharshan Kriya. They still hype and sell the practices which they dont themselves practise.
The cleansing effects of the kriya is too much of hype. I have seen people get heat boils, skin rashes, tumors, heart Palpitatations and constant headaches from the practise of SK. Most AOL teachers urge people to continue as they feel it is a cleansing process. But in many cases the symptoms are due to imbalanced doshas and not related to cleansing at all.
Yoga is a wonderful system in the right hands but in the hands of fanatics it can turn bad. Thats the sad story of AOL.

SoSad said...

Nandita says " When this was told to Sri Sri in a small gathering in a room Sri Sri replied that - 'Kriya is good if you are good'."

Reading more stories like this is really provoking a deep sadness as well as anger in me. I know this not to be true. In fact, I have found in my experience and in other's experiences that the opposite is actually true. We all inherit our body constitutions and they each vary greatly, as Nandita described eloquently. Many people who are naturally spiritually inclined are precisely the ones who are damaged by kriya. They need to ground in their bodies, not destabilize themselves more through hyperventilation. Energetically, if someone's already embodying higher frequency energies (please bear with my explanation even if you don't agree), they need to ground their energies and move deeper into their bodies, not deprive themselves with oxygen in order for sri sri to delude them into experiencing an artificially induced 'high', and mistaking that feeling for some sort of enlightenment.

Many people end up in a room with that guru thinking they need something from him only because there is a similar pattern in their past, with a parent or family member. They have been wounded so they try to heal with spiritual techniques and fake platitudes. Maybe those who are seekers for lack of a better word, feel misunderstood in the real world and feel that sri sri will honour their sensitivities, not abuse them. No one gets real time with sri sri, so there is a lot of projecting going on. In reality, their situations are only made worse.

Sri Sri does not have the greatest awareness in human form. His energies are not vibrationally high enough to even fully perceive many of those who come to him for healing. He should work on himself, give guidance to those who seek him out, learn from others, and stop manically running around the globe imparting dangerous techniques/ideas and collecting money for it.

Why doesn't he just focus on bhajans and traditions that are celebratory and don't only succeed in imposing his own limitations on others?