Pain from the Past


i am as a child, 34 years old without ever knowingly meditating and with a large amount of repressed physical and psychic pain. I am trying to learn to find love in myself, overcome my pain and find my center and balance. I experienced a release of emotion and non physical pain when I tried yoga for the first time yesterday and afterwards as well. Can you give advice on how to get the most from yoga in these regards or how else to deal with this pain?

—Tom, United States of America


Dear Tom,

I congratulate you on doing something about these difficulties. It’s not at all unusual to have such difficulties, and for yoga practice to bring about a release—sometimes pleasant, sometimes less so.

As for how to practice, in general, take it easy. Don’t use your practice to try to get things to “come up.” Rather, be gentle, and let your practice work its own magic, so energy releases as it will rather than forcing it to release, which can lead to unpleasantness.

As to how to deal with the pain, first of all, know that for it to come out doesn’t mean that you have created a new problem—it was in there anyway, And for it to come to the surface naturally can be the first step in dealing with it in a healthy way.

Another important point is to accept yourself—past and present. Pain can get much worse if you think that you should be—or should have been—someone different. The past was what it was, you’ve learned from it, now it’s the present, and you’re a different person. Do your best to move forward without guilt or self-condemnation.

As Paramhansa Yogananda’s guru put it, “Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until man is anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.”