Svadhyaya is the practice of self-study. Do you take time each day to reflect on your thoughts, words and actions?
Why is svadhyaya important? Self-reflection, self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-self-self. It almost seems… selfish. Yet we’ve all been on an airplane and heard “secure your air mask before assisting others.” In order to show up for the rest of the world, we have to make sure our energy tank is full enough to be in a position to assist, give, or share. To take care of ourselves, we must first know ourselves; what fills our energy tank, what are our needs, desires, passions, pains, judgements, areas of resistance, motivations behind actions, and so forth. Be curious about what makes you, you.
Svadhyaya requires us to look at ourselves honestly and objectively, letting go of personal feelings or opinions. Self-knowledge and understanding will grow as we see that we have two options to live each moment: either with inattention, fear and judgment, or with clarity, kindness and awareness. Comment below and share your experiences with svadhyaya, or self-study. When do you feel most in tune with yourself? When do you feel most out of touch with yourself?
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”Lao Tzu
Svadhyaya Exercise: Journal. Journaling is a great exercise to observe what you really feel about something. I journal with a pen and paper, but you can write in any way that feels good (for example, typing on your computer or painting with colors might feel better for you). Use it as a medium to express yourself – you might be surprised with what you come up with.
Svadhyaya Mantra: I question my answers.
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Niyamas: Observances of Yoga | Chapter 4: SvadhyayaTweet
2 thoughts on “Niyamas: Observances of Yoga | Chapter 4: Svadhyaya”
Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights into the practice of self-study. While in graduate school, I took a class to merely fill an elective and it turned out to be one of my most beneficial courses for personal balance. There is a myth that there is a work-life balance in our industries that at times, nearly feels unattainable. I find it most difficult to practice self-awareness while maintaining non-judging observations. With continued practice, I am getting closer to where I would like to be and have to set reminders for myself to practice. Although, I do find that I come away with more emotionally centered weeks when I do keep up with the meditations, and often being more productive. I look forward to your future blog posts and appreciate your contributions to the local and regional community.
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Hi Ryan! Thank you so much for sharing your story and the compliments! I too found my most beneficial grad classes to be the ones I wasn’t expecting! Work-life balance seems to be harder in our US society, so I think it’s extremely important to find ‘work’ that we actually enjoy doing and can blend with ‘life’. Yet, even with a great job, I too find myself casting judgement from time to time. Although, I am no longer hard on myself for judging. It’s more of a reminder that I am human and have human conditioning. The surfaced emotions may be a form of processing – which will ultimately bring in more self-awareness. I’m proud of you for sticking with the meditations even through the harder emotions! “The only way out is through”…
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