Come, let’s be present with our authentic truth. With yoga’s niyama practice of svadhyaya, we gain self-knowledge through education and reflection
As many of you who follow this blog know, I have a new puppy, and I named her Sage.
I gave her that name as I knew intuitively that she would be teaching me many life lessons.
From her puppy moments to her unconditional love, she is a gift of this past year and into my future. She has emerged to be a companion who quietly listens when I might be in a moment of free expression. Yet she barks when her people food is not given to her while I am cooking.
As I have shared before, my grandson, Kaynen, and Sage like to chase each other around, with much barking and giggles. Kaynen’s confidence is growing as he is more trusting of their relationship. An accidental nip is no longer a crisis but rather a bump in the road. They will continue to play or simply enjoy being quieter as they watch a show. It has been a joy to watch their bond growing.
Embracing life’s new treasures
Yet I had to step back to really understand the impact she has been having in my already-busy life. There were times when I was not so sure I could keep her.
The moment I knew she would stay with me was when she was present with me in one of those unconditional love moments.
That moment was precious and there have been many more since.
I created the time and space I needed to continue with my meditation, pranayama and yoga.
Those few missed days of practice were not going to happen again. I understood I needed to be more intentional to make them happen with a puppy in my life.
In addition, I have been studying and chanting the yoga sutras almost daily. It has added an incredible depth in my life as well as a release of debris that I am still attempting to understand.
Being present with the yoga sutras by chanting the different chapters supports the release and cleansing I need on a given day.
Knowing the truth of my life is the practice of svadhyaya, one of the niyamas in yoga.
The yamas and niyamas
All through the year, we have continued a series that takes a closer look at yoga’s ethical guidelines for living. These are called yamas and niyamas, and they fall under Raja Yoga, the branch that governs the disciplines about controlling the mind and senses. The first two branches on Patanjali’s eightfold path are yamas and niyamas.
Simply put, yamas are things not to do, niyamas are things to do. Yamas can be thought of as practices of self-restraint, while niyamas are virtues to cultivate, or observances.
As a reminder, niyamas are individual observances of self-restraint. In contrast to the yamas, which are concerned with social relationships and harmony with the world, niyamas are more of an internal journey. As described in the aphorisms by Pantajali, they serve as support for the path towards the part of Self that is all-knowing. Some may refer to that Self as the Ultimate Reality. These practices aid us in gaining harmony within as they aid in creating personal discipline.
There are five niyamas: saucha, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya and isvara pranidhana.
Your own book of life
Iyengar shared that the practice of svadhyaya was about reading your own book of life, at the same time that you are writing it and revising it. What a wonderful idea to bring into your life!
By being present with your life, there is an awareness created allowing the self-reflection to move you toward a different path, thus a different ending for this living book you are creating.
This process changes you. There is an increased awareness of this creation being divine and is meant to be celebrated, honored. Sensing the Divine all around creates a sense of the Divine within. This is most magical when it happens.
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone for others. Unfold your own myth.”
Rumi’s poetry comes from this place of devotion and focus on the Beloved. There is often a feeling of irreverence and playfulness with how he has you dance toward the Beloved. You are there before you even know it.
Exploring your own divinity to become closer to the Divine as defined by you and your faith can happen with the study of sacred texts, exploring and being in nature, and being introspective.
Any form of meditation that you find effective is a form of self knowledge.
QUESTIONS FOR SELF-REFLECTION
What can you start today to foster introspection and reflection on behavior patterns that no longer serve or ones to reinforce in your life?
If you practice yoga, what happens on the mat with your mind or emotions with your ability to stay present?
What inspires you?
What inspirational/sacred text can you develop a friendship with?
What part of you keeps you disconnected with the Divine part of yourSelf?
MANTRA FOR LIVING IN THE TRUTH OF YOURSELF
Consider practicing these mantras and decide which one is most effective and supportive for you. Practice for about one week or two weeks.
Take simple notes to notice the impact of one to two minutes of repeating the mantra.
You may use mala beads for the count to 108.
Then you can switch to the other mantra and repeat the steps.
Compare your experiences and share what you noticed with a supportive friend or in response to my Facebook or Instagram social media posts [link here].
OM is a root mantra and is thought to be the original sound that rang out in the created Universe. It helps to calm the mind.
TAT TVAM ASI translates to “you are what you seek.”
This mantra can support your journey toward your DIvine self. Be present without judgment and notice what is present with your thoughts, repeated patterns of behaviors including cravings or habits. This process can help us see the shadow side so we can move past these barriers.
Explore what comes up after practicing either mantra with the innocent eyes of a child. Be present without judgement and embrace all that emerges for you.
YOGA POSE FOR ACTIVATING THE TRUTH WITHIN YOURSELF
Sukasana is more accessible for many of us compared to lotus pose. Having an easy cross-legged seat on the floor, you can then add the mantra or simply observe what is emerging while you sit still. This posture prepares you for meditation. If this pose is not accessible for you, simply find a comfortable seated pose in a chair or on a cushion.