Swadhyaya: How to begin to study yourself
For many yogis, Swadhyaya means studying the scriptures in order to better understand themselves. And this can be very rewarding. Scriptures and spiritual texts provide insights into ancient wisdom, and give you perspectives on yourself that you hadn’t thought of. But where should you begin? If you’re at all unsure, sometimes it’s best to start by simplifying everything down. This where pratyahara comes in.
The Withdrawal of Your Senses
Take, for instance, the experience of being blindfolded (or better still, doing yoga blindfolded). What is your instinctive reaction to this prospect? Fear? Anxiety? Excitement? Once you become aware of this reaction, the fun part begins. You can question why you have this reaction. What are you afraid of? What memories or attachments does it invoke in you? How would you prefer to proceed and why is this? All of this reflection is potent self-study, and a great introduction to Swadhyaya. And that’s before the actual practice of pratyahara even begins.
Darken the Room and Focus on the Story
When you use Pratyahara to remove some of the external distractions, you let yourself focus on yourself, and begin an inwards journey. This is the very essence of Swadhyaya. And remember that in studying yourself, there is no set path. The crucial thing is to let yourself explore and find your own way. Most of all, enjoy the process!
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