One of the more beautifully developed sciences of spiritual-based psychology is yoga psychology, the study of human psyche in relation to life and the larger dimensions of existence. This science, matriculated from the ancient tradition of yoga, seeks to explain and explore the potentials of the human life, uncovering the hidden mysteries behind life’s purpose, existence, and relationship to the world in which we live. While there are many systems of psychology available to modern man, yoga psychology is unique in that is seeks to merge modern science with ancient philosophy. Through its distinct methods of treating and transforming the mind to its open and holistic approach to life, yoga psychology is an effective science for providing a healthy, balanced, and individually sensitive approach the mental health and wellness.
The Philosophy of Psychology
Generally, the philosophy of psychology has pursued two outlets. The first that suggests that life is empirical and can be measured and observed on a material level. This philosophy maintains that all system are composed of matter which can be seen through physical observation and observed through the senses. Therefore, everything that exists within the human being can be measured on a physical level accounts for all aspects of the human existence. One important point of this philosophical ideology is that everything is based off of experience, external input, and genetic disposition. These together form the entire foundation for the psyche. Therefore, elements that appear to extend beyond the confines of the physical and observable level of existence are either imagined or yet to be proven through empirical observation.
Contrary to the empirical belief is the philosophy that human beings are composed of elements that are beyond the confines of the physical structure of the human being. Although material components contribute to our existence, there are many features of the human being that cannot be measured with a microscope or electromagnetic scans. Although these features are not composed of the same material as the human body, they existence in their own dimension and retain their own qualities that allow them to exist. One of the primary examples of an element that exists in its own form is consciousness. Under the definition of the non-empirical philosophy, consciousness is a part of human life, but is not contained solely within the human being, nor can it be found within the structures of the brain. Rather it is a field of existence that permeates all of creation, but takes the appearance of separate entities when filtered through the structure of the individual entities such as a human being. Therefore it is part of the human being, but not limited to the human structure in and of itself.
For the most part, empirical based psychology believes that consciousness is a component of the brain, and a spirit, or some entity that is connected to a higher source, does not exist. All that is experienced and seen within the individual can be explained within the physical content of the human being. Therefore, the pursuit of understanding and comprehension of the functions of the human psyche are mostly undertaken within the study of brain through the sciences such as neuropsychology. This forms the foundation for the more extended studies of behavioral, developmental, and cognitive psychology.
Non-empirical psychology, on the other hand, accepts the soul, or something existing with the human being that extends beyond the limits of the perishable body, as an additional entity contributing to the human existence. While the human body contains part of the material necessary to form life, it does not make up the whole system. Non empirical psychology maintains the belief that individual consciousness is a component of a large system that has been referred to as cosmic, universal, or collective consciousness. With this understanding in mind, non-empirical psychology pursues the study of the human psyche through the components of consciousness, soul/spirit, and other elements beyond the physical body.
While not every psychology conforms to these boundaries, most of the applied practices of psychology conform themselves to the outline of one of these ideology; either the mind is in the body and the brain, or it is part of something larger and beyond the limits of the body. As a social practice, western psychology usually follows the path of the empirical study where as eastern psychology has been that of the metaphysical and spiritualistic. Yet there are modern schools of thought, researchers and psychologists that are extending beyond these boundaries and seeking to reform psychology into a complete science of the human mind. Indeed, the human brain does show significant contributions to the functions of thought, perception, and behavior, but at the same time there has been no substantial evidence that self-awareness or consciousness can be contained within the functions of the brain. Together, both of these insights have proven to be significant challenges to the modern day research of the psychology of human beings.