An analysis of oneself on a regular basis can provide invaluable insights into one’s nature, on a fundamental level. It is all about being centred in the moment, and being quiet (mauna) during the entire process of self-enquiry. This quietude can be a lengthy observance, and is not one of negation but encourages a voluntary and enthusiastic reorientation of the student’s (sadhaka) awareness and energy (prana) from association with external objects, to his spirit nature. Self-enquiry is termed svadhyaya in the Samskrtam language. The Samskrtam word svadhyaya is composed of two parts: ‘sva’ meaning the Self, and ‘dhyaya’ meaning ‘of contemplation’. Thus, we get contemplation of the Self. Some people associate svadhyaya with the study of the Holy Scriptures (shastrani). The seeker reads the passages of holy writ and ponders their inherent wisdom, with the intention (samkalpa) of integrating these into his/her life, systematically, in order to refine his/her nature; an experience that leads, ultimately, into the experience of Self-Realisation (atma jnanam).
Studying is the foundation of learning, growing, and evolving in every aspect of our lives. Yet, do we really know what it means to study? According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, to study is “the act or process of applying the mind so as to acquire knowledge or understanding.” Study requires several steps.
- Focus: First, we must be able focus our attention. Without careful attention, we will not know what is pertinent and what isn’t.
- Observe: Then, we observe, listen, or read. This opens us to take in what we are putting our attention on.
- Integrate: After we receive the new information, we attempt to understand. This is like digesting food—the knowledge needs to be broken down in ways we can integrate and assimilate into our mind.