March 1, 2021
Life can feel like a tornado we’re trying to tame. Especially this past year: the children are at home, either being homeschooled or e-learning; we’re anxious about our jobs and trying to balance working with parenting; if our kids are back at school, we’re worried about them; and we don’t have the support of family or friends to give us a hand. Something’s got to give, and it’s usually our own well-being.
Self-study is all well and good, but how do you balance that with everything else that’s going? “If I can hardly find time for myself, where can I find the time to discover myself?”
But self-study (svadhaya in Sanskrit) is like water: it can flow into any space you have for it. You don’t need to set aside hours of your day to ponder deep questions, nor do you have to have it all figured out as soon as possible. This is a lifelong journey that can be taken in small increments.
Without realizing it, you have little moments all to yourself that are perfect for dipping your toes in. Don’t forget that self-study is first and foremost a receptive, aware and compassionate frame of mind, so your first steps can simply be to develop this mindset.
When you first wake up, before you even think of getting out of bed, take 5-10 minutes just to breathe, deeply and slowly. Focus on the way your stomach expands and contracts. If you want to get fancy, pause your breathing for three counts at the top of your breath, when your lungs are full, and at the bottom when your lungs are empty. You can gradually increase the length of the pause.
Cleansing the body with water can be a very spiritual experience. Make your showers a little ritual all for you. You could imagine that you are cleansing yourself of biases and impurities of the mind, leaving only compassionate true insight. You could imagine that the water flowing down your skin is clearing away the layers of the Ego to help you find your true nature. Practice a ‘spiritual’ shower that empowers you to settle into compassionate awareness.
Affirmations are powerful tools, too. Develop the habit whenever you’re facing a mirror, any mirror, anywhere, to look at yourself and speak your affirmation. A good affirmation for self-study might be: “I discover more about myself each day, and I love myself more each day.”
Small shifts such as these can grow into impactful habits and actions. As you develop your mindset, you become more receptive to true insights and compassion, opening the door to greater self-knowledge.
Below are some recommended practices to enhance your self-study: