Discover Your Authentic Self Through Yoga
Exploring Swadhyaya: The Study of Oneself
Yoga offers a complete system of spiritual development through the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The second limb of yoga is known as the Niyamas or self-observations. When broken down even further there are five areas of self-observation with the fourth one being Swadyaya. When translated into English the term Swadhyaya means self-observation. Self-observation can be interpreted as many things and can be accomplished through many means. One way, for example, is to study sacred texts or scriptures to help us understand ourselves better. Other approaches include meditation, journaling, modern day therapy or simply talking with friends or family members who know us best.
I believe we best learn about ourselves through our relationships and daily interactions with the people around us. Over time we may be forced to change some of our attitudes, patterns, habits or inclinations because our old ways are just not working for us. These patterns are often hard to recognize, even harder to accept, and hardest to change. However, we might also be compelled to change some things about ourselves because we think that changing will make us a better person, make us more likeable, make us more successful, or because we want to please others. Doing this almost always results in failure.
The truth is who we are is part of our DNA. Anyone who has ever had children can attest to the fact that certain personality traits are evident almost from birth. Traits not taught to them by either parent nor by any caregiver. No matter how hard we work on changing ourselves there are some things that make us who we are and to change them would be fraudulent to our true selves. In fact, we all owe it to ourselves, to everyone we meet, and to life itself to always be an expression of our true selves. Trying to be anything or anyone else would deprive us of our true authentic self. Being inauthentic deprives the Universe of who we came here to be and what we came here to express.
Self-development and self-growth are all important practices to reach the ultimate goal of enlightenment or union with the Divine but we must tread lightly on the path and not lose the extraordinariness of ourselves along the way.
How to Tell If You’re Being Controlled by Your Mind or Intellect
We make decisions every day. These decisions can fall under a few categories: ones we feel good about, ones we feel badly about, and ones that don’t make us feel anything.
The decisions we make can make our lives heaven or hell to live in because everything in this world is subject to the law of cause and effect, also known as the Law of Causation. We know what happens when we decide to drink too much alcohol one night. The next morning, we feel sick, tired, and most likely have a headache.
We won’t be able to function optimally and we suffer. Yet, even with this knowledge of the effect, people still decide to drink too much alcohol all too often. In order to understand why people do this to themselves, we have to break down the types of equipment we have as humans and better understand their functions. These understandings come from Vedanta: the ancient teachings of yoga as described in the Bhagavad Gita.
As humans, we are made up of matter and spirit. Spirit is the consciousness that gives rise to our matter. Spirit is your highest Truth. Without Spirit, there would be no matter. Our matter is comprised of three types of equipment; the body, the mind, and the intellect. The body is, of course, your physical manifestation with your organs, limbs, skin, bones, etc. This is what makes you tangible. Your mind is defined by Vedanta as the home of all your emotions like love, hate, anger, jealousy, joy, etc. It is also the home of your desires, likes, and dislikes.
Your mind is where your preferences live. And lastly, your intellect, your third and most important equipment is your ability to be objective and discern what is truth and what isn’t true based on knowledge and wisdom. Your intellect is the mature reasonable part of you that can question and think for itself when there’s adversity and when others are imposing their opinions and ideas on you. Your intellect stays centered regardless of the chaos happening externally.