The search for our Spirit has preoccupied humans for centuries and certainly creates more search questions for causes many of my yoga teacher training students. Within the practice of Yoga, we are told that the practice of Yoga is the Union or Yoking of the Mind-Body and Spirit. But what actually is the Spirit or Soul?
At first, our ancestors thought the soul had its seat in the heart. Later, numerous other organs became candidates for housing the soul—including the liver and the spleen.
Eventually, when we could not find the soul in any of these locations, we decided that it must reside in the head, inside the brain. Today, most scientists would argue that what we call consciousness is an epiphenomenon, or secondary by-product, of the brain—that is, that the neural circuitry in the brain creates consciousness. In fact, Francis Crick, one of the discoverers of DNA, states in his book The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul that everything to be learned about the soul can be found by studying the workings of the human brain.
In contrast, as shamans and Yoginis, we believe the reverse, that the brain is an epiphenomenon of consciousness, and that consciousness itself utilizes complex evolutionary mechanisms to create the neural circuitry that allows us to become aware of ourselves and the universe.
Aristotle thought that the brain cooled the blood, that thinking was a function of the heart. Rene Descartes described the brain as the pump of a nerve fountain. It has been compared to a clock, a telephone switchboard, a computer; yet the mechanics of the brain are far more intricate than any analog. Theorist Lyall Watson wrote that if the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.
The Shamans and Yoginis believe that the Spirit is all that is beautiful and noble about being human. The Spirit has the possibility of becoming eternal because beauty and nobility are eternal. But to experience this, we first have to heal and let go of the trauma and pain from our past and commit to becoming Spiritually aware. When we let go of all the stories that we carry around with us about our history, our perceptions, and the drama that we have created from past experiences then and only then can we find the beautiful harmony of the Mind-Body, and Spirit.
This path is the journey of the Yogini and the Shaman, as both lead to the same place…..in metaphorical terms, this is the part of ourselves that never left the Garden of Eden, that still walks with beauty in the world, connected to the rivers and the trees, and that speaks with Universal energy easily and readily. And once you step firmly on this path, you know completely that you hold the key to endless joy and happiness, rather than the burden of outdated behavioral traits that are keeping you tethered to the pain and drama of the past.
The path of the Shaman and the Yogini is illuminated by the light of your beautiful and vibrant Spirit.