Self Study - Svadhyaya
"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self."
~ The Bhagavad Gita
We tend to identify our "self" as a human beings having a spiritual experiences. In reality, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. In fact in Ayurveda, it is understood that the primordial cause of all dis-ease is forgetting our true nature as spirit. We identify with our bodies, our minds, our beliefs, our emotions, our past experiences - our small "self" or ego. Yogis tell us we suffer from these things, which are temporary, because we forget who we are. Our true nature, the "Self" is divine and is pure consciousness. Some call this the soul. Yoga refers to this place of pure love and light as the Atman.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra says: “Study thy self, discover the divine”.
Our job in this journey of life is to uncover all the layers of ourselves that make us forget this. When we're disappointed, angry, turned off and upset in life, rather than getting caught up in those stories, we can become the witness. We don't see things as they are, we see things the way WE are. The power of the witness is to distance ourselves from ourselves. It's how we begin to see how we've made up our realities. It's how our belief system begins to lose power over ourselves. It's our ability to watch ourselves act and respond. To watch our thoughts and our emotional disturbances - the ego, rather than identify with it. To know we are not these thoughts and emotions. We can then begin to change our old patterns and reactionary behavior.
The small self judges, criticises, fears, conditions, doubts and is essentially the cause of the chitta vrittis, or ‘fluctuations of the mind’. By paying attention to, or ‘studying’ our ‘self’, we become more aware of the things we do that harm us, and also those which serve us and bring us closer to that process of ‘yoking’ or ‘uniting’ with the true Self, the divine within.
Yoga and meditation is an important act of self study. It a place where we can grow the witness, recognize our belief systems and connect to the all knowing within.
"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." ~ Aristotle