I ended our previous blog on this topic with this:
Ironically, it's not about having stronger boundaries in the sense that our Western view continues to tell us to "take care of ourselves first", or not to let in the toxicity of others.
At times the teachings of Yoga (philosophy, psychology) seem to conflict or to present a paradox. In fact, even the physical teachings of asana (yoga poses) can seem conflicting. Teachers will encourage students to "go deeper", and in the same instruction to "accept the present moment as it is".
As a mental health provider, you have also likely offered guidance to clients that can appear to contradict (at least to your client's current view of relationship). For example, Set Clear Boundaries and Be Compassionate.
As we're growing and evolving, we undergo the processes of opening our view to a wider lens than our conditioning initially allowed. We learn to welcome co-arising feelings and instincts, and even seemingly competing needs, longings, and wisdoms.
As we evolve, what now seems like contradicting or conflicting wisdoms won't. Yes, at a certain level, we need to have clear boundaries and learn to "take care of ourselves first" (on airplanes with air masks, for example). And, yet, at another level, this won't help us to evolve past the Western view of our individualism.
Based on my deep confidence in human nature to evolve into both more inclusive and expansive wisdom AND our deep desire to live in relationship to our indwelling nature, I'm sharing this perspective. It's based on these three views:
As we train mental health therapists in the psychology of yoga, some of the primary concerns we hear from providers include: over-caring about their clients, professional burn out, compassion fatigue, and compensating for their client's effort by working harder than the client seems to be.
This might merit the recommendations, noted above, to set more clear boundaries, take better care of yourself before you care for others, and prevent burn out.
Yet, what if we combine a trauma-informed lens with the Yoga Tradition's teachings:
The practices of yoga help us to become consistently able to sit with our clients, students, and fellow citizens, and to see the indwelling longings, complexities, histories, and conditioning - including the parts of human nature that are vulnerable to continually making a greater mess of things.
And, as our yoga practice deepens in us, we tap into our indwelling potential for becoming stable, loving, humble, and generous with life, with each other, with ourselves.
Yoga transforms us from within. Concepts become a felt sense, not an intellectual or poetic phrase on a tea bag tag. We feel the fleeting nature of life and we are humbled. We see each other's indwelling humanity and we turn to our brain's imperatives to care for the welfare of all beings, to rest in compassion, not criticism, and to help each other be seen, known, and to find our personal place of belonging.