We enter into the month of March continuing our study of the Yamas and Niyamas. Svadhyaya, or self-study, asks us to look inside. Self-reflection and self-study can be difficult to swallow. We may find ourselves drifting back into the past and filled with regrets spiraling down into depression. We may find ourselves looking to far forward into the future and becoming filled with anticipation that takes off into anxiety. So let’s take a look inside our box …
The analogy of a box allows us the safety of the interior and the unknown of the exterior. Our physical bodies are represented by the box. My physical body has many forms. I am a hockey player. I am a guitar player. I am a teacher. I am a triathlete. I am a friend. And I have so many more roles in life. Our bodies are quite sturdy and capable of withstanding a decent amount of what life can throw at it. Our box may be kicked, punched, yelled at, screamed at, defaced or covered with graffiti. The world can see the damage done to the exterior. The world cannot see our interior.
The safety of the interior can initially seem like a prison. I am guilty of becoming trapped in my own thoughts and becoming stagnant in my life. It was not until I became comfortable with what was on the interior of my box that I began to smile more, give more and love more. As we look deeper into our box, a place where no one but ourselves can dwell, we must become comfortable with what we find. Do we love ourselves? Even when the world attempts to destroy us, what beauty is inside the box?
No one will ever truly see the inside of our box. A family member, friend, loved one, spouse … we will share some of what is inside, but the lid will never be fully open. We are the only person with knowledge of its contents. As we take a moment to look in our box, do the contents make us smile? make us laugh? make us fall in love with ourselves?
Svadhyaya – Self Study
Svadhyaya, or self-study, is about knowing our true identity as Divine and understanding the boxes we are wrapped in. This process of knowing ourselves, and the boxes that adorn us, creates a pathway to freedom.
The yogis teach that we, as human beings, are packaged much like this diamond ring. We are, at the core, divine consciousness. Around this pure consciousness, we are packed in “boxes” of our experience, our conditioning, and our belief systems. These boxes are things like how we identify ourselves, what we believe to be true, our preferences and dislikes, our fears and imagination. All of these boxes are informed by country, culture, gender, town, ancestors and family history, groups we belong to, and our personal experience.
We suffer, the yogis tell us, because we forget who we are. We think we are the boxes we are wrapped in and forget that we are really the Divine “holding” inside. We can find clues about our boxes by watching our projections, by the process of tracing our reactions back to a belief, and by courageously looking at life as it is. This process of knowing ourselves, and the boxes that adorn us, creates a pathway to freedom.
Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele