Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Yoga Ni-Yamas: Santosa and Svadhyaya

This week for my yoga training we have been assigned to choose one of the five niyamas in yoga, or internal practices of observation/ethical practices of guidance.

I had a hard time choosing just one, so I've chosen two.  The first is Santosa, contentment.  I think it is often difficult to feel true contentment.  We are often inundated with distractions, pressures, desires, etc that push us to want more things, keep our calendars packed with activities and succumb to instant gratification.  I am definitely guilty!  Santosa reminds us that not only should we be content with the joyous and beautiful parts of our lives but also with the difficulties we face as they are an integral part.  There is constant change in our lives, even if we somehow maintain a facade of keeping everything the same, it's really constantly changing!  And often times these changes can be challenging.  These difficult things that come into our lives are lessons of some sort.  Something that we need to look at and ask, what do I need to learn from this?  It could be a lesson about ourselves, about our relationship, about our job, about our home or any number of things.  In the end, if we are clear of mind we can see from more than one perspective and can learn and evolve from our life events, remaining content. Then we are practicing Santosa.

The second one that I have chosen is Svadhyaya, study of one's self.  I saw this interpreted on a couple of sites as not only study of one's self but study of spiritual texts.  I'd like to focus on the study of one's self.  I think this goes in line with the yama I discussed last time on truth, Satya.  I think in order to be truthful, we must study ourselves or look deeply at ourselves, our thoughts, words, actions and behaviors.  If we can understand ourselves, then we can begin to see the world and reality around us clearly.  I have recently had a difficult time looking at the core of my feelings and understanding where they're coming and why.  Of course, as I have shared before, I feel meditation is as a method for looking at ourselves deeply but I think that we can also do this all day long as we apply mindfulness to our daily lives.  Taking a few seconds to check in with ourselves throughout the day or when eventful things happen and then setting aside a longer time to reflect on things we've thought, felt, done or seen.  And the key when we reflect is to set aside all judgement, it is pure observation.  We can decide that there are some things we'd like to try to understand more deeply that perhaps we would like to change, but the goal isn't change so much as it is understanding ourselves.  I think that if we can see what's going on inside, then we can understand it and through understanding, any change needed should happen freely and easily...

Be content. Be Inquisitive. See Deeply. Love. Breathe!

The photo for this post is from Michelle Meiklejohn's portfolio on Free Digital Photo's.