Thursday, July 05, 2007

Svadhyaya

Yup, turns out I have the energy for another post!

Svadhyaya (swad-hee-ya-ya) is one of the yoga niyamas, and is usually translated as self-study. Self-study is a way to know yourself better, and through knowing yourself (your Self, perhaps) it is a way to know God, in whatever form that takes for you.

Faith has been prominent in my mind and practice lately, and although mostly I say that belief in God in optional but useful, I am starting to think that, when times are tough, belief in God can make the difference between making it and sinking. But that is a topic for a whole other post!

How, you ask, can I go about studying myself? I am tired of self-analysis, therapy, whatever.
Well, any activity that teaches you more about how you operate is a form of self-study. Obviously asana and pranayama, meditation, the yoga tool kit, are very effective tools for this, but there are others.

For example, I am now a (sic) dyed-in-the-wool knitter. And I have learnt some interesting things about me in my short knitting career. S0me I knew, but needed reminding of. OK, most I knew, but needed reminding of. That is why self-study has to be an ongoing process.

For example, I have observed that:
  • I am a knitter of bunnies, baby clothes, bags, hats and gloves. I don't like scarves (boring) or shrugs (boring) or large garments (tedious). I am fond of projects that are challenging enough to hold my interest, and that allow me to see results almost immediately. I like teaching yoga for the same reasons.
  • I like knitting in the round because there is no finishing work afterwards. Wouldn't want the project to be too challenging or long-winded!
  • I don't like poor-quality yarn, and would rather knit one item in pretty wool than seven in nasty acrylic. I suspect this means I am a princess.
  • I feel guilty that I am producing more stuff the planet doesn't need, and I wish I could find recycled yarn. This I didn't need reminding about.
  • I like clever, elegant patterns where the engineering of the item is effortlessly simple. Knitting that is almost like architecture. This reminds me that I like things to run smoothly and in an ordered way. And that I like understated beauty. It is good to know what manner of beast you are.
What do you hobbies teach you about yourself? Do you cook? Sew? Scrap? Walk? Play Scrabble? Sudoku? Notice how you react to the challenges, your chosen patterns of thought of behaviour when you are engaged in these activities.

2 comments:

Karen Beth said...

My two main hobbies are keeping elaborate sketchbooks and sending mail. In sending mail, I realize that I like to surprise others with happy things. I like for the gift to be well-thought out and the packaging to be pretty. I prefer to send inspirational items in the mail and often think about how something will fit into the envelope so that it won't look lopsided or ugly when it arrives.

I guess my hobbies show me that I'm a perfectionist - to a fault almost. I'm the same way about sketchbook keeping; I think about EVERYTHING when I write or paste stuff into them.

I'm glad you posted this. I'm going to pay more attention to my hobbies and see what else I can learn about myself from them.

Namaste.

rand(om) bites said...

Oooh, food for thought! You're right, we learn from anything we do and even choosing what we do says a lot about us. More self analysis but this sounds more fun :-)