Svadhayaya is the art of study of self. As described by some yogis, this practice of understanding the “self” allows you to know yourself so well that you grow into your wholeness and greatness. This niyama is so important to me that it has become my company’s mission statement.
It is through human conditioning that over time we build walls or barriers around ourselves without even realizing that this process is occurring. These obstructions may occur as a result of a traumatic experience, a failed relationship, a loss of a job or just society telling us what we are supposed to be doing versus what our heart is telling us our true calling is. We begin to identify ourselves as this packaged human behind layers upon layers of protection. It can become suffocating.
Many years ago, a psychic approached me after a class I’d taught and advised me that, as a healer, I needed to protect myself from the negative energy fields around me and that I was susceptible to being taken advantage of or my energy being taken away from me. Subsequently, I spent the next several years creating an even thicker layer of protection around myself, including the use of essential oils for protection, the use of sage to clear the space and practicing self-reiki to keep my energy intact.
What I came to understand, largely due to my education in Ayurveda, is that this advice was not necessarily appropriate for me. While we all need to be cautious of becoming a victim of someone else’s malice, I realized that it is still our given right to be open and experience the offerings that are presented to us. If we continue to build barriers, we will lose the very lessons life is trying to teach us. We begin to identify with the “packaged individual” versus our own essential being. We forget who we are.
Svadhyaya is the process of understanding who we are behind these walls, unpacking ourselves and finding solace in this process of self-discovery. We can release the ego mind when appropriate and become a witness of self and experience the beauty of self-study.
The process may be difficult; it may be uncomfortable or cause momentary pain; however, it is worth it. When I discuss this concept, I am reminded of a book about a bear that I would read to my son when he was a baby. The bear was trying to explain to his parents that in order to get to their desired destination, it was necessary to go through the challenges; not around them, not under them and certainly not over them.
Healing begins when we literally go through the difficult process of self-discovery, and who we are on the other side of this process opens us to the possibility of knowing and being present with our true self.
Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Shala, located in Randolph, New Jersey, and Upper Lake Mohawk in Sparta, New Jersey.