Conducting an individual, yoga-based, first-person mini-project

author: Matthijs Cornelissen
last revision: November 2022
 

Introduction

When you study this text as part of a course on Indian, yoga-based, consciousness-centred or integral psychology which stretches out over several months, it is useful to take up a project which will help to keep your attention focussed while you study. Such a project helps to engage actively with the theory and practice of this new approach to psychology in an area that is of special interest to you. You choose a concept, domain or process of psychology in which you're especially interested and then you focus your efforts in this area. It can, for example, be a theoretical issue, a psychological skill or quality you would like to develop, or a change you want to bring about in yourself.

In other words the project is meant to help you organize, assimilate and integrate your thoughts and personal experiences regarding an aspect of Indian Psychology that has your specific interest.

Writing a structured diary

While such an individual project requires an active, focussed energy, it helps to maintain at the same time a structured diary, or journal, which is essentially passive, and open-ended. For both, it is crucial to look at them in first instance as entirely private. Only at a much later, and ideally clearly separate stage, should one consider what one wants to share with others, and how to do that. It is also useful to look at maintaining one's journal primarily as an exercise in self-observation. It forces one to become more acutely, precisely and "objectively" aware of oneself and of all that all is happening inside, and in the process one develops the "inner instrumentation" needed for the precise and reliable self-observation that forms the core of this consciousness-centred approach to psychology. The journal once written, however interesting it may be as a trail of inner change, is from this perspective, a "side-benefit", while the honing of one's inner instrument of knowledge is the real issue.

The combination of writing a structured journal with a first-person project has been found very effective, both for inner change and for assimilating the basics of Integral, Indian psychology. Here is where you can find out more about how to maintain a structured journal.

How to set up the project?

The project consists basically of two parts:

  • A more theoretical part, which could be somewhat abstract and impersonal in style. This part should include a literature study as well as your own considerations and reflections.
  • A more practical, personal part, in which self-observation will play a major role, and which will generally be focused on some attempt at inner change. This second part should include a personal account of what you experienced and discovered about the various concepts and processes involved by "going within" and by trying things out in oneself. To this end you can include selected passages from your diary, for example the struggles and victories that show how the study developed, how you tried to explore, understand and experience the various concepts and processes by focusing inside and going within.

An important aspect to consider in the discussion of your findings is to what extent they might be generalizable and useful for others. In all stages of the project, it is good to be as concrete and detailed as possible!

How the projects are used during the courses organised by IPI

During the IPI-based courses, there have generally been two projects. The first is a kind of trial, and will last at most one month. The second will normally continue for the rest of the course.

At the end of each project, two presentations are given, an oral one for the group, and a written one of which the participant can decide how public it will be.

For the oral presentation one will normally gets approximately 35 minutes inclusive discussion. The written presentation should have the standard sections of a scientific paper:

  • Introduction focusing on what motivated you to take up this particular aspect/concept/process;
  • Theoretical explanation and elucidation of the involved issues, inclusive a short literature study;
  • Methodologies used;
  • Findings and developments;
  • Discussion;
  • Summary and conclusion.

Available resources and support structures

We wish you lots of inspiration!