“Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom.  Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.”  

lao tzu

Knowing ourselves is quite often a long process of knowing what we are not.  In our Yoga practice it’s easy to identify with whether we think we’re ‘good at yoga’ or ‘bad at yoga’ how much or how little we do being the way we judge ourselves.  But paying attention to our personal practice, the way we move, how it makes us feel, which teachers resonate with us and which don’t, which style of yoga brings us to life, and which leaves us feeling depleted.  The mat can be a microcosmic experience of life.  

Being open to explore and experiment is essential to the observance of svadhyaya.  Our mistakes and failures are signposts along the path to self-discovery.  It’s easy to identify with things we have and with roles and responsibilities, how often do we state that we are the role we are playing ‘a mother’ ‘a teacher’ ‘a friend’ ‘a manager’… but do any of these roles fully capture our being?  Does any one role feel like the essence of us?

Identifying with what we have can be another way we attempt to find ourselves, have you noticed yourself say ‘I’ll be happy when I’ve lost weight’, ‘I’ll be happy when I get my new phone, car, kitchen etc.’ but do any of these things really do us justice?  Ultimately, what we tend to find along the way is a momentary high or sense of wellbeing followed by a need to renew whatever it is sooner or later.  Once we stop identifying with roles, responsibilities and material possessions we have to look deeper, we have to begin an inward journey, and this is the path of Yoga.  

It’s here we come back to the beginning again, it’s here that we’ve stripped away a layer that isn’t us, on the way to discovering who we are, and we start again with kindness and compassion.  Ultimately, we might experience this as personal growth, letting go of the old to make way for the new, finding new meaning or deeper purpose in something well established in our lives, recommitting to a cause or project, or maybe, just maybe, we break through to the deepest most intimate and infinite part of ourselves.  We find connection with the universe, meaning in nature, we find our art and express it freely through the work we do or the support we lend.  We find our truth and express it compassionately and freely.  Once we connect to it, we know because it feels like home within us.  Coming home to ourselves is our life’s work.

Take Svadhyaya off the mat today; Begin to notice how things feel, notice what feels nourishing and what feels depleting on an energetic level, what leaves you feeling alive and refreshed and what leaves you feeling drained.  Use what you notice as a signpost towards elevating your energy and getting closer to self-discovery.  Journal what you find.

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