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OCTOBER 2020. MONTHLY INSPIRATION
This month: Self-study (Svadhyaya): Knowing Yourself.
Previous months: Monthly Inspiration.
On the ‘Monthly Inspiration’ blogs we look at the Yamas and Niyamas. Each month a new theme is being shared with you. We do this to reassess what you value and believe in life and to align it with what you need and desire most in life to be happy and content.
The first 5 blogs were on the Yamas and we also summarized these ways of dealing with the world around you in the blog ‘Tomorrow is a new day!‘. During the last 3 blogs we have been looking at the Niyamas. They tell us more about how we deal with the world inside of ourselves. Today we continue with the Niyama called ‘Svadhyaya’, which can be translated as Self-Study.
Thus; … Ready for the theme of October?
Self-Study is what we will look at this month.
So, let’s take a look at self-study closer to home.
How well do you know yourself?
Let’s look at:
The fourth Niyama is called ‘Self-Study’ and it means as much as unwrapping the boxes you’ve put around your core-self. The clearest way in? Become aware of your judgments of the world around you. Your comments on the world, show you what you believe to be true.
- What do you see around you?
- What does this say about you?
- What opinion do you hold about yourself?
Self Discovery Questions
In the Yoga philosophy they say that what you see around you, is what’s alive in you, otherwise you could not see it. What you see around yourself is a reflection of your inner world. We often don’t want to admit it, but it is true. How can you deal with this?
Look within with some self discovery questions.
- Sit back.
- Make yourself comfortable.
- Breathe in and out a few times.
- Ask yourself: “What is alive in me right now?”
- Repeat the question a few times quietly in your head.
- Listen to the answers you hear inside.
- Perhaps make some notes.
- Breathe in and out a few times more.
- Thank yourself for the time you took for this self-inquiry.
Whenever you witness an emotion ( = a response to a bodily sensation which puts you in motion) in somebody else, turn it around. Don’t look at the other person, but look within. What does the response the other person shows or gives, say about you? What is alive in you?
Ask yourself the following self discovery questions:
- does this say about me?
- is alive in me?
- am I noticing
- am I feeling?
- am I thinking?
- do I need?
- will I do with this insight?
Self-study is about discovering your own core. In Yoga they talk about seeing your own divinity:
“We are, at the core, divine consciousness.
Around this pure consciousness,
we are packed in ‘boxes’ of our experiences,
our conditioning and our belief systems.”
_ Deborah Adele
In the book ‘The Yamas and Niyamas, Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice’ Deborah Adele advises us to start discovering what boxes we have put around our divine core. Max Strom, known from the book ‘There is no app for happiness’ also explains in his book that we have a light that shines deep down inside of us all. Only that we have put so many boxes around it, that we simply can’t see it anymore. Thus, it’s time to take those ‘walls’ down. Time to tidy up and clear the space around us, so that our inner light can shine through.
Now how do you take those walls down? Yoga and also breath work can support us in taking down those barriers by connecting again with what is alive in us. By using our breath and body and especially by connecting these two great tools, we can begin to feel whole again. We begin to feel alive again by becoming more and more aware of what is present inside of us by doing so. It will help us discover the very parts of ourselves that make up who we are.
Yoga, breath work, meditation are all wonderful tools. What else? I love the exercise from Bija Bennett from her book ‘Emotional Yoga’. She offers us the tool of an Emotional Walkabout. This is an inquiry exercise to support us in finding a way through our questions. I truly find it an amazing tool. In it she asks you to think of a situation, person or feeling that you’d like to work with and then you answer a set of questions. Within 8 steps you will have found out how you can approach the topic you’re working with. That’s all it takes. Eight steps.
What does it come down to? ‘It’ is referring to getting to know yourself. What’s your look at the world? What does this say about you? What’s happening inside of you? Do you feel disharmonious? Great, dive right into it and get to know the story behind it. It is about noticing disharmony and working with it.
- When you feel resistance, listen.
- What is this resistance telling you?
- What can you learn from this feeling?
- If you feel judgemental, what do you believe it’s about?
- Is this your own belief?
- Is it still your own value?
- If yes, are you happy with it? Or do you wish to change it?
- If not, what do you want to do with it? Keep it or throw it out of the window and reassess the situation.
A great example in Deborah’s book is about a conversation between Yogirai and his son when they are standing at the banks of a dirty river. The son asks whether the river is polluted:
“No the river is only carrying the pollution, the river itself is pure”.
To conclude, we are that river: we are pure. It is about no longer identifying with what we feel or think. That is just passing through us. We are not our feelings or thoughts. These are only signals of our body to make us more aware of what we need to take care of and what deserves attention. So that eventually our divine light can shine through and we can enjoy life.
With love and care,
Marianne de Kuyper
P.S. I’m a Dutch girl going global. Even though I reread everything multiple times, my apologies in case I’ve made a language mistake somewhere. Just mail me about it. I’ll be happy to adjust it (if I can) and learn from it!
P.S. The blog is Inspired by ‘The Yamas and Niyamas, exploring yoga’s ethical practice’ from Deborah Adele.
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// I, Marianne (founder) am a Dutch girl going global. Even though (the team and) I reread everything multiple times, my apologies in case I’ve made a language mistake somewhere. Just e-mail me about it. I’ll be happy to adjust it if I can and learn from it! //