As we know, yoga includes teachings about the body, the mind, and the heart. It is a traditional study aimed at guiding us in our practice on the Yogamat, as well as in our life. Understood in a broad sense, Yoga is the study of oneself.
If we take as a basis the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we can observe that Yama (ethical bases) or Niyama (rules / recommendations) are mutually supportive. And Svâdhyâya, literally «self-study» is the fourth in this series of guidelines for the Yogi. For example, the mere fact of being attentive to following the first guideline of “Ahimsa” (non-violence) implies thorough self-study.
Svâdhyâya is a fundamental concept that every practitioner should integrate, it has two fundamental meanings.
One, whose essential meaning has always been to memorize and recite the sacred scriptures. Originally, the teachings were transmitted orally from Guru to disciple. Here we find the importance of developing the mastery of memory.
We are talking about the study of texts such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras. Reading and studying these texts help us to understand the spiritual path. This study is not just to accumulate information, you have to understand what you are studying, and that is why you need a Teacher. This process of understanding and assimilation takes time to carry into daily life. Mind and memory are here very present. It is in cognitive elaboration that our mind finds a secure support to help it to more easily open itself to the subtle.
The other meaning of Svâdhyâya is deeper. It is related to the study and knowledge of the SELF. It is «I AM my own reading». It is a concept linked to the heart, to the experiential, to the human and vulnerable. A yogi takes responsibility for settling into practice to focus on teachings to transform his mind and his heart.
You have to link the teachings of these texts with your own experience, with what happens to us daily, your way of living and connecting with others. Thus, these teachings come to life and become beneficial. Self-observation exists inside and outside the Yogamat, during practice and during every day of your life. However, this is not as easy as sitting down to meditate.
Svâdhyâya is the awareness of our own existence. This “one-self» can be a bridge, but also an obstacle. Reality and how we define ourselves are filtered by our beliefs, introjections, fears, desires and illusions. Realizing that this first way of SELF-seeing is conditioned, it is the beginning of the honesty of SEEING.
Our character has many layers, conscious and unconscious, which has led us to survival and which are deeply rooted, since they are the armour that protects us from pain and against the first shortcomings of our life. This self-observation is delicate, since the Ego protects itself. This is the reason why the link with the Guru or with the Teacher is so important, since from here, the loving confrontation and the accompaniment of the guide make evident what can’t be seen by the yogi.
«One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”. C.G. Jung
Today, in the West, and in the absence of that direct traditional link, this need to review our own shadows or blind spots, can be done by a therapist. It is about understanding the unconscious defense mechanisms that act from the shadows, discovering our internal characters, our manipulation strategies and our deepest pains.
We cannot continue on our path without opening ourselves, the important thing is to know our ego since is the place where the main obstacles are. Only from this honesty with yourself, you begin to be responsible for your decisions, being able to see your own light and treasures. With Svâdhyâya the veil of ignorance is lifted, «MAYA». It is not about rejecting the ego, it is about being aware of when it plays for or against us.
It is all about being awake and empathetic, opening our hearts to ourselves and to others. This is the only thing we can do, and here external support is essential to avoid hurting so much. The yogi is linking itself with itself and with the world, he is updated thanks to that refinement in his self-reflection and the support of his referent/s to appropriate itself from love. Without that loving scene, this growth is not possible.
«Self-Realization teachings lead to God or to communion with the Divine». Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Personally I fell Svâdhyâya as a compass, and I also have “Beacons of Light” who guide me on this journey. Thanks a lot to them.
Nora Ávila – Chandra Ibiza
FB: Chandra Ibiza
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