the big question of svadhyaya.

I am the kind of person who knows EXACTLY what she wants to order before even I make the suggestion to go get ice cream. Which is why, when I am feeling indecisive, it just about kills me. I know this about myself, I don’t even pretend to apologize for it because it’s authentic. But I also predict that I would (probably) live a more vibrant life if I could be more spontaneous (potentially) or accommodating to people who like to make spur-of-the-moment decisions (maybe). Either way, I know this about myself because I’ve done A LOT of self-study of my habits and tendencies (which includes my anxiety level while waiting in line for my Ironman to decide which frozen custard to order.)

Svadhyaya is the intent to know yourself at your deepest, most authentic level through self-reflection and self-study. In yoga philosophy it is one of the five niyamas (personal practices) and it is important because our concepts of who we are determine how we see and interact with the world.

My concept of who I am determines small decisions (like if I’m the kind of person who eats a cinnamon roll or a bag of broccoli) and determines big life-changing decisions (like if I’m the kind of person who stays at a job that is unnecessarily stressful and brings me closer to plucking my eyes out than it does to filling my bank account or the kind of person who is willing to quit and move on to a more fulfilling life.)

Martha Beck writes, “Our whole lives, all the actions we take are based on our concepts of who we are. Not knowing that one crucial fact undermines everything we feel, say or do.”

Svadhyaya, or self-study, suggests that I consciously and continuously seek insight, knowledge and wisdom that helps me understand myself better and that leads me toward emotional freedom, vibrant living and spiritual wholeness.

I truly can’t think of a better life task.

One way to do this is through the study of sacred and inspiring texts. Read my current recommended list of svadhyaya titles here.

Another way to practice svadhyaya is through contemplation– asking the Big Questions. I wrote about a phenomenal practice to uncover the True Self through contemplation based on Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga back in 2015. You’ll definitely want to re-visit these posts; they get to the core of identity, ego and how to define/refine yourself on your own terms, not by labels that have been thrust on you by other people:

who am I? 

what is my driving desire?

how can I serve?

Currently, I’m meandering through a state-of-mind Martha Beck calls Dreaming and Scheming, so my self-study is honed on my need to be creative and my desire to thrive. My Big Svadhaya Question is this: “When do I feel fully and truly authentic, vibrant and alive?”

Of course, this is easier to answer when I already feel vibrant and alive. (Even imagining vibrant aliveness is oh-so-difficult when I’m down in the dumps… or a little tired… or hungry… or have the worst allergies… or all the many things that make life so “life-y.”) So if you don’t have an answer today– I get it. I share this question with you because it’s helped me uncover who I am, define a concept of myself that I appreciate and continue an ardent svadhyaya self-study.

I’d love for you to consider it, sit with it for a few days, and then shoot me your answer. When do you feel fully and truly authentic, vibrant and alive?

One thing that helps me get in the mood for contemplating Big Questions is to take a few moments of silence beforehand. Try this Systematic Guided Relaxation Practices with me:

 

Follow Your Bloodstream:

61 Points of Light

Happy Self-Study,

-lisa


 

Guided Meditation Teachings

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every day a gift: santosha

My natural inclination is to hit the ground running the moment my alarm goes off. But what I really crave is A Slow Morning: a morning that I can unwrap slowly, deliberately, with care and attention.

Years ago I was inspired by this quote from spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and have held it close to my heart since. He says,

Every twenty-four hours is a tremendous gift to us. So we should all learn to live in a way that makes joy possible.”  

I’ve found that if I unwrap my morning slowly, like a precious gift, the possibility for joy, fulfillment and contentment increases exponentially. If I cherish my first stretch, spend an extra moment cuddling with Russell Clive, meditate first thing and drink my coffee slowly (from a real coffee mug, not a travel mug), I start my day feeling tremendous contentment. I am ready to receive whatever the day has to offer.

It doesn’t mean that I’ll be HAPPY! every single moment of the rest of the day. Santosha, which is the Sanskrit word for inner contentment, is a difficult attitude to maintain. Because, let’s face it: happiness doesn’t always present itself tied up with a pretty little ribbon every day. Some days go terribly wrong (hello, influenza B) and I’m frustrated, stressed and suffering.

Santosha is a possibility only when I relinquish my expectations and choose instead to be grateful that I even get to open the gift of the day, regardless of what’s under the wrapping.

One way I increase my possibility for santosha is starting my morning in meditation– setting my intention that I’ll be open to receive. Whatever the day brings, I strive to stay open, grateful and aware of the preciousness of this day.

Use this Guided Meditation today to open to the possibilities of joy and santosha.

“Open to Receive”

Happy Opening,

-lisa

Every twenty-four hours is a tremendous gift to us. So we should all learn to live in a way that makes joy possible.”  -TNH


Guided Meditation Teachings

Love these Resources? Consider partnering with Lisa to continue providing valuable teachings that promote hope, health and happiness here:

$4.00

add meaning to what is in front of you.

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A Cicada Symphony is my favorite summer concert. The cicadas (although not the most beautiful insect ever invented) are companions on my evening walks and their song is the soundtrack to summer. With their chaos in the background, my mind is quiet and free to attend to the embrace of the muggy summer air, the sharpness of the cut grass, and the fading evening light.  The white noise helps me appreciate singular elements of the summer evening that would be otherwise unnoticed.  It helps me appreciate what is already right in front of me.

Silence can do the same thing as the Cicada Symphony: it can attract meaning to the mundane. When you have a comfortable relationship with silence, it becomes a backdrop that allows your mind and spirit to allocate meaning to ‘the little things’ that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Silence helps you appreciate what is already right in front of you.

In Silent Compassion, Richard Rohr writes, “If something is not surrounded by the vastness of silence, it is hard to appreciate it is something singular and beautiful. If it is all mixed in with everything else, then its singularity, as a unique and beautiful object, does not stand out.”

In this way, silence attracts greater meaning to what is right in front of you.

Try these Guided Meditations to surround the present moment with reverent silence.


I am here, This is Now 

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment


“Silence is a portal to constantly deeper connection with whatever is in front of you. That which is in front of you does not need to be big or important. It can be a stone. It can be a grasshopper. Anything can convert you once you surround it with the reverent silence that gives it significance, identity, singularity, importance or value.”

Richard Rohr


Guided Meditation Teachings

Love these Resources? Consider partnering with Lisa to continue providing valuable teachings that promote hope, health and happiness here:

$4.00