Svadhyaya is one of the Niyamas and, traditionally, is an act of self-reflection that is inspired through any spiritual or inspiring text. This particular practice is essential to my own growth because without reflection I could not continue to heal and evolve in the ways that I believe I am meant to do.
Svadhyaya gives us an opportunity to dig past the “veils” of the human experience to go deeper, allowing us a glimpse of who we really are. I say a glimpse because most of the time, that’s where I am. I get glimpses but not always a true reflection of self. Sometimes it’s a matter of trusting my “listening” which can be the struggle as all of our experiences go through the human body with all of it’s distractions. So I continue to practice knowing that some days it will be really clear and on other days it will be a train wreck. Regardless of the experience, I HAVE to show up. Whether or not it’s perfect or a train wreck is irrelevant. It’s all a part of the experience (and, from what I’ve learned, train wrecks, although painful, can often provide the deepest and most enlightening insight). No matter what shows up on any given day, I have to sit with all of it, stay detached from all of it, because that IS the practice.
On a more practical level, any kind of self-reflection is good. This is a practice that has been a lifesaver for me as I use reflection to help me through trying times. In order to do that, I need to get quiet and open my heart so that the negative emotions don’t misguide me, which allows me to stay in the pure place I need to go in order to really get to the root of the matter. Reflecting on an event or conversation, as well as the emotions and feelings around the conversation, is where the lesson lives. That said proceed with great care because it also requires honesty, courage, and immense self-compassion. It is not a practice to take lightly because we can be so critical of our self, that instead of reflecting, we end up beating ourselves up which is not at all helpful. So if this practice is new to you, then go about it gently, like maybe reading something uplifting and inspirational and then sitting for a bit. In doing so, little by little, it’s possible that you’ll experience growth and shifts. The more you practice, the clearer it all becomes.