The author of the book “The Yamas & Niyamas” talks about boxes for making this comparison, but for whatever reason, I have the “Russian dolls”, coming to mind instead, and for some, they use the image of an onion. Regardless of which image works for you, this guideline of Svadhyaya, or self-study, is about realizing that we all have different “layers” that makes us, well, us. And that this guideline is about getting to know ourselves, by understanding the “boxes” we are packaged in.
The yogis teach that we, at our core, are divine consciousness. But because of our upbringing, our experiences in life, and our belief systems, we have packed ourselves into these “boxes”. These boxes are things like how we identify ourselves, what we believe to be true, our preferences and dislikes, our fears and imagination.
We suffer, the yogis tell us, because we forget who we are. We think we are the boxes, and forget that we are really the Divine “hiding” inside.
We learn early to accept our family´s way of doing things, and consider it to be the “normal way”. We mostly do the same with the cultural norms that are present when growing up. These early ‘conditionings’ continue to form us, and ‘become us’, forming our identity. This and our own life experiences all add to form our layers.
Every comment you make about the world, about another person, about an event, about life, is a projection of yourself and a clue to your interior landscape.
“When you blame and criticize others, you are avoiding some truth about yourself” –Deepak Chopra
When faced with any disharmony, our tendency is to blame what is outside of us, and then justify what we are thinking or feeling. If we are courageous enough to trace the disharmony back to ourselves, we can begin to unpack our boxes and open up vast amounts of freedom that brings us closer to our core.
Ninety-nine percent of what bothers you is about you. Ninety-nine percent of what bothers others has nothing to do with you.
Notice how you turn the above statement around, blaming others for your own problems and taking responsibility for others’ problems. Practice taking responsibility for your yourself and letting others be responsible for themselves.
Svadhyaya, Self-Study, the forth of the niyamas invites you to focus on yourself, rather than everyone else. Try it, you might learn quite a bit about yourself just by this simple practice.