One of the greatest gifts, and biggest challenges. that Yoga offers us is the gift of self understanding. The Niyama of Swadhyaya is Self Study, the determined and ongoing quest to understand oneself at a profound and life altering way.
Yoga helps us to shine a light on the dark corners of our being, to illuminate the parts of us that are hidden from ourselves, and to challenge us to question if we want to keep them.
The Swadhyaya that formed part of my training and assessment for Yoga teacher training was a big factor in my recovery.
Through my writing I was able to uncover patterns of behaviour that I had acted out unconsciously for my whole life. I was able to work through emotions I had kept buried, and I was able to see connections between events, emotions and behaviour down the years. On more than one occasion a powerful insight came to me within seconds of me writing something which my unconscious had always known, but which I have been utterly oblivious to.
Self Study to heal and grow
The writing practice that started during that training has carried onto this blog. Often the posts I write are fairly straight forward ‘here’s how to do this’ sort of posts. At other times, they are far closer to the Swadhyaya of my training.
There are some times I am not sure if the post I am ready to publish is really for you, the reader, or a message from my subconscious to me. Sometimes I don’t hit publish, sometimes I think it can be for us both. Writing has continued to bring me deeper understanding of myself, and helped me to clear emotional blockages in a very powerful way.
Writing is a powerful way to uncover what you think, know and feel. It can help you to clarify your ideas, cement your knowledge, reveal conflicts in your thinking, and gaps in your knowledge. Regular writing practice can, if you make a commitment to it, help you to grow in a powerful way.
My friend Dale Darley offers an amazing online course to help you develop a journaling practice that can help you to find your true self and discover yourself anew! You can check this out here. Dale kindly gave me a special link so that you will get it for just $12! What are you waiting for?
An ENFP Rebel, a productivity nightmare!
Yoga expert Georg Feuerstein, in his wonderful audio series ‘The Lost Teachings of Yoga‘ tells u that Swadhyaya goes beyond the yoga mat and the journal, that we must also look at what psychology, sociology, modern culture and all the other aspects of life that contribute to who we are have to say. I have become very intereted in learning more about my ‘personality type’ ever since reading a description of the ENFP type, and feeling like someone was just writing a pen portrait of me. Recently I discovered Gretchen Rubin’s ‘Four Tendencies‘, and was both horrified and relieved to learn that I am a ‘Rebel’. Not an easy personality type to have, but at least I can understand myself now, and why my life seems to have been one long exercise in self sabotage.
Combined, these two aspects of me make for trouble – the ENFP wants to do everything,and truly believes it is all possible, and the Rebel doesn’t want to do anything anyone tells her to – even (especially) herself. So I get inspired and excited with ideas and dreams, but sometimes getting started can feel like trying to escape from quicksand.
Taming the Rebel one day at a time
For the past months (and a little bit), I have been taking part in the brilliant 30 Day Business Blogging Challenge from Kevin and Sarah Arrow. I have done this challenge before, completed it once (although over a period of about 6 weeks rather than the 30 days!) and attempted it several other times. This time I got it done in 32 days, with a couple of days off when I had to deal with a personal thing that took all my energy and focus (which I cannot blog about, which is a shame because it would make an excellent post!)
I have written about stress, anxiety, bulimia, Yoga philosophy, George Harrison, The Beatles, Harry Potter, The Incredible Hulk, my kitchen refit, procrastination, mental health and Yoga, and more. I wrote a Valentine’s post as part of a challenge contest, in which I had to include 54 ‘February’ connected words in one post. I almost didn’t do this, but then I did, and I WON A PRIZE, a brand new course Kevin and Sarah have created to help me write better posts for you!!!
Some of these posts have just flown out of my fingers, seeming to write themselves. Others have taken me nearly all day and a lot of self doubt. There are several drafts waiting to be lovingly caressed into life at a later date, or abandoned because they were terrible ideas in the first place.
The Rebel has fought this every step of the way. Every time I have ignored her pleas not to write, or her seductive ‘it’s ok, you can write later’, or her efforts in bringing out the inner critic to tell me what I am writing is rubbish, or the inner editor to make the process of writing so painful I stop, I have written a post and published it. They have not all been great blog posts, some of them I have not wanted to publish but the point of this challenge is to defeat those voices that tell me I can’t, and create a new voice that tells me ‘of course you bloody well can!’.
One of the biggest ‘stories’ I have had in my mind for so long is that I never finish anything, never see any task through to completion. I have lots of evidence to prove this is right, but one of the things my writing in recent months has helped me to realise is that I have far more evidence that I can and do see things through. This 30 days of dedicated blogging has become another piece of evidence to help me to show the Rebel that it is ok to complete something, to stick to a commitment to myself even when it is hard,that sometimes it feels better to do that than not to.
Writing this post, number 31, I feel really good about my accomplishment over the last 30 days. I have really enjoyed the discipline and have a feeling I am going to continue for a bit longer! Watch this space (I may have a break tomorrow, and take a day out to have a long Sunday walk instead of being at my laptop, I think I deserve it!)
I will be talking more about Swadhyaya in the webinar I am running later today at 1pm, and then again at 7pm (GMT). Find out more and register your place here
Are you interested in blogging for your business?
From a business perspective, regular blogging has numerous advantages. Talking about the nuts and bolts of running a business really isn’t the purpose of this site, so I am not going to go into these reasons, but they are here should you wish to investigate for yourself. If you are looking to improve any aspect of your business, I really cannot recommend Sarah and Kevin enough, they really do offer incredible training and support, and know their stuff so well! Find out more here.
Header image credit thanks to Sandis Helvigs