The topic of svadhyaya, meaning self-study, has two prongs. One is self-directed study of scripture or wisdom texts. And the other is the study of oneself. Before we dive into one or another, we can start by asking ourselves the question - which of these very different practices could serve me best, given what is present for me right now?
If it's not immediately clear maybe we could ask ourselves - what is most needed in my world right now? Could my family, my community, my responsibilities or my healing benefit from one versus the other?
From scriptures and wisdom texts we broaden our focus, opening our hearts and minds through time and space to the inspiration that has touched people through the ages. It can help us feel appropriately small, like when we view images from the Webb and Hubble telescopes. We can feel connected to the whole, and to those who have brought inspired thoughts that have helped humankind evolve toward greater compassion.
On the other hand, exploration of oneself is a journey of a much different kind. In this world we can delve into our own awareness, our limitations, our habits, and our strengths. We can practice compassion with what we find. We can practice embodiment to heal past traumas. We can learn how to be in relationship with those we love with a little bit more kindness.
I'm not a big fan of the term "navel-gazing," but I suppose that self-study in terms of self-exploration can be overdone. We all have to find our own balance with how much inward-looking feels appropriate, with how and when we connect with the world around us. Svadhyaya is one of the five niyama, which are internal practices. They balance with the five yama, which are all about how we interact with the world.
As we move into fall, we may consider setting an intention for how we want to focus our larger intentions. Will this be a season of reading the great yoga tomes, like The Bhagavad Gita or The Upanishads? Or will it be a time to schedule time for oneself to write in a journal, explore with a therapist, an astrologer, or some other guide?
We hope you will spend some time with us, the Unfold community, exploring both wisdom texts, as well as your own inner canvas.
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