When Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy was first born, creator Michael Lee drew from his experience with classical yoga and his knowledge of humanistic psychology. Congruent with the work of Carl Rogers (1902-1987), the humanistic approach states that in order for a person to “grow”, they need an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy (being listened to and understood). This is the role of a Phoenix Rising “therapist” or facilitator, to be this loving, unconditional presence–creating the environment within which to grow.
Stated another way, there is no intent to fix you in a Phoenix Rising Session. Instead you are met in the moment, with no judgment or criticism, no matter how (seemingly) wrong, weak, strange, stupid or bad “things” are. There is allowance and space for all parts of you to show up, and essentially to let you be yourself. Can you imagine what this would be like–to be met just as you are, with no need to change or fix anything, imperfections and all?
This reminds me of a Buddhist teaching from Japan I recently learned about called Wabi Sabi. It represents the acceptance of imperfection and the embracing of asymmetry, irregularity, and modesty as attributes of beauty. A dent in a copper bowl or a crack in a glass are viewed as objects of value, serving a purpose. I love this concept, the idea of embracing imperfection – not as an idea of accepting failure or being in a place of resignation, but rather to embrace the reality of what is and to see the inherent beauty in the process.
So often in western society the message is delivered that it’s only okay to show the “pretty” parts, and so we aim to project the image of this together, perfect, finished product, covering up the broken and unfinished bits. But in reality, we are never a finished product; we are all in the process of becoming… becoming ourselves. Where biology meets environment, growing in our own special way, at our own time, twisting, turning, bending, and transforming into our distinct selves. Our form, being like a mirror to our journey, may have parts that are seem gnarly and irregular, but their existence alone shapes our next segment of growth to reveal a unique and beautiful expression.
Acknowledging and embracing our unfinished, imperfect parts, allows us to begin the process of growth grounded by self-acceptance. It is from this place that we gain comfort in owning our uniqueness and meeting ourselves from a perspective of “What does this mean to me?” rather than a reflection of society. When what we put out there for all to see is in harmony with what we find on the inside, meaningful change occurs.
Deep down I believe this is what we all need, to be witnessed, in this moment, for all that we think and do. As humans we seem to have an inherent need for connection with others. We need to be seen as our authentic selves, and to be welcomed with an open heart. But for many of us, bearing our intimate selves, feels vulnerable, so it is only when we are met in that space, where safety and love reside, where unfinished and irregular are not only welcome, but regarded as objects of beauty, that we can we shed the protective skin to expose our ever-evolving, unique selves. This is the realization of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy–to be an unconditional, supportive presence to your process.
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
– Carl Rogers
Renee Reusz RYT, PRYT