On our journey along the yogic path we almost certainly will come across Svadhyaha, which is the study of ourselves. In our western minds we tend to think of self study as therapy and psycho-analysis, the study of our thoughts, feelings, associations and fantasies .. however, this is not at all what the yogic Svadhyaha is about.
Svadhyaha reveals itself in the traditional yogic teaching with the imagery of the ocean and its waves. Each wave is seen as a unique expression of the ocean…travelling across the surface of the sea, the wave is likened to the individual human being.
However, the substance of each wave is the sea itself. Waves and the matter from which they arise are one and the same and as they appear and disappear they neither diminish or increase the immensity of the ocean, which is the source of their being. A wave is never separate from the ocean but it is expressed individually whilst it is on the surface of the water.
The idea of Svadyaha is similar … each individual being with its awareness or consciousness is never separate from the universal consciousness in which it has its source. Each individual mind has its own unique preferences, qualities and distinguishing features, but it is not entirely autonomous as it has at its source the infinite expanse of universal consciousness.
However, when a “wave”, symbolising us as an individual, feels separated from its source, it is at this time that we feel isolated, alone and often challenged. Remaining attached, part of and allowing ourselves access to our “source” – to something far far greater than ourselves – can help to bring us acceptance, the feeling of connectedness and ultimately peace.
The study of ourselves is helped through the practice of yoga and meditation, clearing away the veil of illusion which can fog our true Self. By quieting the mind and finding peace, without the chitter chatter of the mind, we can begin to see more clearly. We can learn to view ourselves more objectively, with curiosity and non-judgement. As we know, we all have a side of us which basks in shadow .. the part of us we would rather not reveal. However, it is by seeing our full self transparently that we can learn to fully understand every part of ourselves – both the light and the dark, as this is what makes us who we are in all our unique beauty.
Our yoga practice takes us towards our true selves and helps us understand what makes us tick, in all its glory and darkness.