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Svdhyaya: Self-Study–Painting the Perfect Portrait

wpid-20140617_191241.jpgThe Niyamas, Yoga’s second limb of practice, provides moral guidance on the path. A strong component of finding moral balance is self-study, to quote the Greeks, “Know thyself.” When we know ourselves, we can better navigate our interactions with others. We can choose to respond or not; reacting without understanding occurs less.Svdhyaya resembles painting a self-portrait. It requires observing yourself with the keen and objective eye of an artist. You observe and record how you think, how you feel, and how you respond in a variety of situations then lay those lines and colors on a mental canvas. You meditate on what you’ve observed and

Svdhyaya resembles painting a self-portrait. It requires observing yourself with the keen and objective eye of an artist. You observe and record how you think, how you feel, and how you respond in a variety of situations then lay those lines and colors on a mental canvas. You meditate on what you’ve observed and renew
your efforts. Like any artist, you refer to the greats who have proceeded you in this work–the sages, the prophets, the scholars and spiritualists. Some of them have left behind art, but most of them can be found in lines of scripture. Contrary to what some would have us believe, masterpieces do not emerge in isolation. There are teachers and influences everywhere.

When we practice svdhyaya, we learn choose our actions based on what we know about how and why we do what we do. We understand our personal motivations and intentions. With this understanding comes wisdom. This wisdom allows us to choose to act–if we should choose to act–to do so in alignment with right thought, right word, and right action.