The Viniyoga of Counselling and Meditation

I am currently doing a course called The Art of Viniyoga, it is about the viniyoga of yoga. So what has this got to do with counselling or meditation? I hear you ask, well it’s like this…

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 3:6 states tasya bhumisu viniyogah

tasya = of it  bhumiuu = stage, level viniyogah = application, progression.

vi = special, intelligent  niyogah = continuous application

The sutra suggests that: Progression requires consistent, steadfast and intelligent application. Therefore viniyoga is about how the tools of a particular discipline are applied specific to the individual.

I have studied many ideas and theories about how the mind works and responds to trauma, stress and loss, as well as how we can help people who are in that place of distress. From Bowlby’s attachment theory, to the Yoga Sutras, cognitive behavioural therapy, Freud, Jung, Fonagy and more. Yet time and again research shows regardless of the theoretical orientation of your therapist, the best indicator for your therapy being useful to you is whether or not you have a good therapeutic relationship with your counsellor. In many ways I think the same is true for meditation.

A good therapeutic relationship, puts the Client at it’s heart, valuing and inspiring them in the good sessions, and the more challenging ones. It goes at a pace the Client can usefully work with, suggesting without imposing, supportive but not intrusive, holding the Client’s best interests and self-determination as a core principle. This is because each therapeutic journey is unique, not ‘better’ or ‘worse’ just different. A good therapist will therefore meet their Clients where they are and enable them to move forward, by taking the path that suits them, not some textbook definition.

The same is true for meditation, there are many types because people are different, some can visualise in full colour HD, others struggle, some find it difficult to work with their overthinking, others just prefer music or silence. If the aim is to help someone develop a regular meditation practice, it’s about meeting the Client where they are, finding what works for them and helping them to achieve their goals.

This is the viniyoga of counselling and meditation, applying each theory and tool individually to the Client, working with them where they are, until they are where they want to be.

So when I see my Clients this week I will not be trying to fit them to some theory, they are not some standardised textbook example. They are human beings with lives, loves and losses. What I will be thinking about is how to best work with them to help them take the next step on their unique journeys.

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