In Act 1, Scene III of Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet, Polonius says: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”
Talk about some heavy stuff. Think about it for a moment (or two, or three)... what does Polonius mean about “self”? For yogis, it’s all about knowing our True Self, our true identity, the luminous, divine, and authentic SELF.
I don’t know about you, but, at 39 years old, I’m still discovering who I am. On a daily basis, I contemplate who I am. What is my purpose? How am I fulfilling my dharma? After all of the questioning and internal exploration, I really want to sit down, open a bottle of wine, and lay in the hammock with the dogs, watching the sunset while my Bae grills some steaks and scallops. And, then, it’s time to call it a day.
Is it just me or do you have those days where you reflect on your life and you suddenly feel like a complete slacker? Don’t get me wrong, I have the days that I am at peace with all things and feel extremely enlightened, but it is challenging to stay in those states of bliss when I feel completely overwhelmed with errands, food prep, cleaning the house, teaching yoga classes, tending to my own personal practice, yadda yadda, yadda - the list goes on and on.
Svadhyaya, “self-study”, teaches us to look within. To take time to study our true authentic SELF. I do this through meditation and a lot (crap ton to be exact) of inner reflection. I spend time tapping out of the outside world and tapping into my inner world. I log off all social media, turn off my cell phone, and simply allow myself to just be. I try to give myself at least 24 hours to be fully present in my life, observing every thought, belief, and action as best as I can. The hardest thing about this internal process is to do it without labeling anything as good/bad or adding any attachments to it at all.
The world is a mirror; it reflects back to us what we believe and see. I am constantly ‘reframing’ my thoughts and beliefs, understanding their source and recognizing that they have come from society, friends, family, and even my personal experiences. I try to turn these thought seeds into something that stems from a positive perspective. To do this, I remind myself to be present in my life fully. And, more importantly, that I’m doing the best I can in that moment to honor my true self.