An Introduction to Trika PsychologySep 08, 2021
An Introduction to Trika Psychology
The human mind is absolutely extraordinary! Unlimited in its capacity for creativity, love, wisdom, and an infinite source of virtue, it is enough to take my breath away. Yet when tarnished by the 3 poisons of anger, attachment, and ignorance, the mind is reduced to the source of all human suffering. Mental health is on a steep decline: scientific data, clinical case-study, and self-report all indicate that people are more anxious, depressed, and traumatized than ever before. And while seeking support has become more accessible and less taboo, my experience in the field over the past 25 years has demonstrated that Western psychology (try as it might) has very little capacity to cure this endemic. Tantrik yoga, on the other hand, has studied the mind for thousands of years and is flawlessly aware of how it works, how we work, and how to guide humanity from our most mentally imbalanced states to our healthiest.
Extrapolated from Trika Mahasiddha Yoga, Trika Psychology is the first system (that I am aware of) to borrow the theory and practice of classical Tantra in order to create a clinical application for mental healthcare. Though the umbrella of Transpersonal Psychology has introduced Buddhist Psychology, Somatic Psychology, yoga, shamanism, psychedelics, breath work, and other spiritual systems to the field, Trika Psychology possesses a cohesiveness and breadth in its view and techniques that is unparalleled by any other singular approach.
In its practice, Trika Psychology is quite unlike traditional forms of talk therapy. Rather than reducing treatment to a 50-minute time-slot once per week, Trika Psychology is a way of life that instructs one in how to utilize their day-to-day experiences as the basis from which to self-reflect, obtain self-knowledge, and practice the cultivation of a healthy mind - leading to self-discovery and ultimately self-healing. Trika therapists are not considered healers so much as educators trained to support their clients in developing an active practice that increases an ever-growing awareness, mental clarity, and emotional wellbeing.
Trika Psychology is relevant to all populations, whether they have any interest in the spiritual path or not. This is because, first and foremost, Trika Psychology is a healing agent with the potential to eliminate the majority of today’s mental health issues, many of which derive from a misapprehension of reality originating from the karmic spectrum that obscures our vision. Here, karma can be thought of as conditioned patterns that carry over from past lives (if one believes in them), the circumstances into which we were born, and all of the experiences throughout our current lifetime that inform who we are.
Successful treatment with Trika Psychology largely involves: 1. cultivating awareness so that we can learn to recognize the karmic conditioning that harms us (and others); and 2. applying Tantrik methods of transformation so that we can learn to choose-out of our suffering. Then, as we whittle away our negative karma, our experiences of anxiety, trauma, depression, obsessive-compulsion, etc. begin to diminish, and our natural appetites (i.e. authentic desires versus emotional hunger) begin to emerge - switching out struggle for inspiration and directing us towards peak mental health.
Optimal mental/emotional health is the foundation of any result-producing spiritual path work as well (regardless of which tradition we choose). In this regard, Trika Psychology also serves as essential preparation for treading the spiritual path, by clearing much of our accumulated dysfunctional patterns of thinking, emoting, and acting.
Oftentimes people get onto the spiritual path because they recognize that they are suffering, but do not make much headway due to a multitude of psychological issues like anger and other emotional reactivity, addiction and compulsive behaviors, mental confusion, etc. (which all have a bodily and energetic base unable to be appropriately addressed with talk therapy alone). Without proper psychological support, these people will often yoyo between progress and sliding backwards into old habits. This dance can last for years, decades, and even one’s entire lifetime, which is a terrifying prospect for anyone who understands the trajectory of human suffering.
This fluctuation between the positive and negative poles is also considered the cause of our mental anguish, confusion, and lack of fulfillment. Trika Psychology undermines this polar dance by teaching how to work with, diminish, and possibly even resolve the karmas that are interfering with spiritual progress. In this way, Trika Psychology acts as a unifying bridge enabling the integration of healthy psychology and spiritual path work.
In Trika Mahasiddha Yoga’s guiding philosophy there is a map of the human journey called “12 Stage View”, which describes every human’s potential progression from mental/emotional imbalance, and the suffering that it causes, to self-discovery and integration of an immutable self-center. Most of the work of creating this empowered self-experience is completed by stage 3 of 12 where one has attained the skills to transform problematic psychology. Both Trika Mahasiddha Yoga and Trika Psychology (which is drawn from it) can take a person to an even more exalted experience of life in stages 4 through 12. (If you would like to learn more about Trika Mahasiddha Yoga, please visit https://www.trikapath.com.)
Amidst everyday mental health consumers and spiritual practitioners, Trika Psychology also mends the gap for spiritual therapists and medical professionals who wish to practice a psychology that is congruent with their own spiritual view of reality. Over the past few years, as Trika Psychology has begun to make its way into the world, I have encountered more and more therapists who are spiritual aspirants. They often vocalize how they feel let down by systems that are not congruent (or are only partially so) with their own beliefs. I am thrilled that Trika Psychology provides a model (and soon training) for those therapists who will inevitably find more satisfaction when their work becomes an extension of their view - not to mention the reward of having much better outcomes with their clients.
Why are we so confident that Trika Psychology works? Because it’s based on natural design; revealed from human beings’ own essence; it always works, because it’s how we work! Tantrik yogins examined our psychology ALL THE WAY to the core of what it means to be human - far beyond the 150 years or so of Western study. In its complete theory, Trika Psychology presents 50+ principles that elucidate the self and our human condition, based on thousands of years of research and development (the scope of this paper only scratches their surface).
One of our key concepts asks, what is the mind? It is obvious to anyone who has attempted to study the mind that it is not a tangible object; it is instead a mechanism whose function we are able to observe. Therefore we refer to mind-function in Trika Psychology instead of a discrete entity called “the mind”. This mind-function (and by extension our emotions) is a fluid process that becomes operational when: 1. Our inner environment is stimulated by an internal or external event, or 2. We fail to recognize our potential to experience the inherent emptiness of the open and spacious mind (called base-mind) that is unable to be conditioned by any negative experiences. Once the mind-function has concluded its present work it should fade into the background of the open-spaciousness and equanimity of base-mind, however, for the vast majority, we unfortunately don’t notice nor relax into this underlying experience of tranquility. This unawareness of base-mind triggers the endless stream of stimulus → reaction that comprises mind-function, which we then mistake for “normal” human experience.
Mind-function can express in a healthy or unhealthy fashion. Unhealthy mind-function will necessarily beget illness in the body and mind, and create bad outcomes in daily life. Yet when a person has some aspect of unhealthy mind-function we do not say that they have an unhealthy mind nor that they are unhealthy themselves. This kind of label is not compassionate and typically does not lend itself to healing or growth; we even find it somewhat hypocritical as we all have aspects of mind-function that could use some work until much higher stages of psycho-spiritual development.
This leads us to another tenet of Trika Psychology, which states that it’s unnecessary to reduce people to any kind of mental diagnosis like in Western psychology. This eliminates judgement and/or taboo around mental/emotional issues, allowing for self-acceptance, which is the base for any true healing. By focusing solely on the process of mind-function everything in our lives becomes a workable process and our psycho-emotional challenges, ironically enough, become the very thing that facilitates our growth.
The last principle that I would like to introduce from Trika Psychology’s extensive trove of wisdom is the recognition of the cosmological flow of energy that is incessantly arising, abiding, and resolving within each human being. Trika philosophy teaches that this desire-energy is based on absolute loving-awareness until our mind-function distorts its expression through our conditioned lenses (racism, sexism, victimhood, paranoia, rage, etc). These contrived perceptual lenses (unbeknownst to us) are the exact root of all of our mental, emotional, and even physical illness.
Because this universal phenomena of desire-energy can never be stopped, we cannot arrest the arising of thoughts, emotions, and our own desires. Sometimes we feel bombarded by the immensity of this energy, which can lead to a sense of overwhelm and confusion; thoughts can come quickly and incessantly, and when they are conditioned (particularly with negativity) they can start to drive us mad. So what do we do with this endless stream of desire?
In Trika Psychology the onus is on us to stop tying knots in this energy and find what is natural. Once we can successfully relax our tensions, our natural appetites begin to emerge and we soon discover the inherent joy and purpose to our lives. In order to make this realization possible, Trika Psychology instructs Tantrik methods of self-empowered transformation of our energy state. These highly effective practices work with our karmically-loaded behaviors of body, speech, and mind to reduce our suffering, regulate our thoughts and emotions, and reveal the healthy mind that is awaiting our discovery. In order to have any success with their implementation we first must learn how to recognize and stay present to this desire-energy. We do this in Trika Psychology with present moment awareness (PMA).
Present moment awareness is the ability to fully show up in our actual situation in body, speech, mind, and heart HERE and NOW. While many believe that they are already in PMA this is not actually true; through self-examination we almost always come to find that we spend a large portion of our days buffering reality in order to avoid aspects of life that we may find difficult.
There are a few ways to train PMA, perhaps the most important of which is called second attention. Second attention is when we have our primary attention on whatever it is that we are engaged in, while our secondary attention is deliberately placed upon another phenomenon. For beginners it is often good to place our second attention on something physical like our posture or bodily sensations. This practice is thought to be 10 000 times more powerful than anything we can do in a therapy office or even on our meditation cushions, as it trains us to face real life situations where we learn to integrate our awareness with our mind-function; in other words, it gives us the chance to pause and sidestep our patterns in order to choose virtuous behavior that is congruous with our core values.
Since change can only occur in the present moment, PMA is essential for healing. It is not possible to change when we’re dwelling on the past or the future, nor when we are checked-out or dull. By applying PMA our daily lives will flow better, we will deepen our self-knowledge, learn where we stumble, and have the possibility to cultivate new habits and grow. Coupled with this awareness of the desire for change, we must then also apply will force in order to execute our free choice to act differently and choose-out of old patterns. Will force is one of the 10 forces of Trika’s “Soul Power” teachings, which must be well-established in order to have success in cultivating a healthy self.
I would be remiss not to briefly mention the importance of the red bindu for Trika Psychology. The red bindu is an esoteric representation of our dynamic embodiment manifested as sensations, emotions, sexuality, and incessant self-image formation. Since very few of us have a healthy relationship to our sexual energy (we either shut it down, overindulge, or express it in ways that, like the mind, are conditioned by our karma) it must be fully unpacked, and those components then integrated with our personality and life in order to feel whole.
Trika Psychology enlightens human sexuality with psycho-education that addresses the healing of sexual trauma, how to discover our most healthy and authentic sexual appetites, how to find true satisfaction in a sexual relationship by building intimacy with others, and more.
While this short paper only scratches the surface of our topic, Trika Psychology is emerging as a beautiful and in-depth technology that honors both the struggles and potential of the human mind and our precious life. We are currently working to get this knowledge into the hands of every interested person, and to this end, we have already begun to offer online group programs where participants are guided through a live process of learning how to successfully transform their unique challenges with the principles of Trika Psychology. More intensive retreats are being scheduled for 2022 (and beyond) and we will also soon begin to train licensed professionals in its application.
Trika Psychology is a cutting-edge system of mental-emotional healing that, as one client recently put it, “is actually not like psychology at all”. This is largely because we spend our time educating clients on how to best understand their minds, energy, and the core patterning that keeps them stuck, rather than repetitively mulling over life’s injustices and wounding. We are also decidedly equal-opportunity by recognizing that all people have unhealthy patterns (no better or worse than anybody else’s), along with a fundamental misapprehension of reality, AND that we all have the opportunity to transform our minds, and therefore our lives, from lead into gold no matter our circumstances. After spending much of my life committed to the search for a compassionate and effective method of clinical psychology, I can now rest knowing that such a system exists… Now all I have a desire to do is share it with the world!
I am deeply grateful to all of the beings who have dedicated their lives to disseminating the profound knowledge that underlies Trika Psychology, and to Kolbjorn Martens whose own brilliant mind has organized this vast material into a comprehensive system. I am hopeful that Trika Psychology will flourish as an accessible therapy for those who recognize the importance of cultivating the mind, particularly when in service to all.
Suzy Daren MA LMFT, September 6, 2021