Existential Psychology


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I know someone who had a sore big toe, and although it only accounted for a tiny percentage of his body it completely interfered with his yoga practice for a few days. It’s kind of like when you get a sliver. It seems so insignificant; just the tiniest piece of wood lodged in one of your fingers. You’ll forget about it for awhile, until you perform one of the myriad activities that requires the use of your hand during the day, and then it catapults to the front of your mind. You realize you need to get that sliver out of there.Our psyches are the same way. Whether the issue we are dealing with is overwhelmingly important or seemingly insignificant, it has the potential to affect the whole of our being and usually does. The key difference is that many of us leave the issues that seem less important unattended indefinitely. They chip away at us without us really even recognizing what is happening.

In this sense it’s strange to think that it’s preferable to face a pressing psychic issue because we feel compelled to deal with it right away. The physical parallel would be if you had a gaping wound in your side. You would immediately go to the hospital to get the help you need. Sometimes we let the smaller wounds go untreated and they fester, causing us a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort.

We really shouldn’t discriminate about whether a psychic disturbance seems like a huge deal or relatively unimportant. Don’t sweep less pressing issues under the rug because they can come back to bite you. When we bring our mindful awareness to every change in equilibrium we can end up saving ourselves a lot of distress and increase our overall sense of well-being.

The alternative is to spend your whole life with the psychic equivalent of a sliver stuck in your finger. Sure, you can function in the world and get along okay, but your quality of life will go down. Taking the time and energy to pull that thing out of there is well worth it, even though the process can be painful.