Have you ever found yourself saying that thing to your children that you hated hearing from your own parents?
I know that I certainly have.
As we go this particular path of practice called parenting, we learn more and more about ourselves. And when when we hear our parents voice come out of our mouths, we know that we really need to cultivate.. the pause.
And when I am able to find that miraculous pause that stops me from screaming “Because I told you so,” I know my practice is working.
Yoga has a term called svadhaya, which translates as self-study or self-examination. As in Buddhism, it is through study of the (little) self, that we come closer to the (larger) Self. “Sva” means soul, or higher self, and “adhyaya” means inquiry or examination.
Svadhaya encourages us to know more about ourselves intentionally.
It is the means through which we can give up our destructive tendencies.
If you’ve ever heard of the term, “polishing the mirror,” this is what it is referring to.
We may know that yelling is destructive, but without examining ourselves – looking at our habit energies around anger and sitting with those uncomfortable feelings – we may never be able to shake the habit.
Socrates said (boldly) that, “the life which is unexamined is not worth living.” The great sage meant that unless we take the time to reflect upon our life, we will be unable to grow toward greater understanding of our true nature.
In a similar notion, the philosopher Santayana observed, “He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it.”
Every mama who has heard her parent’s words come out of her mouth knows what that feels like!
When we don’t take the time to reflect on our lives, and our unresolved bits of the past, we fall into the same habits and patterns of our parents, even things we don’t even agree with!
But we really aren’t condemned to repeat the past.
We can change our habit energies.
Sustainable Personal Growth
Beyond sitting with the uncomfortable stuff, making time to get to know yourself is essential to honor your true being beyond all the worries, self-doubts, and mama guilt. We need time to answer questions like..
What is my direction?
What are my aspirations?
What are my values and priorities?
What a gift to know ourselves intentionally, and to live each day with that deep understanding. With time for self-care and self-study, we may then have the space choose to change our own reactions, and model compassion, balance, and calm with our children.
But embarking on a life-enhancing practice like yoga or meditation isn’t effective if we can’t sustain it in our everyday lives.
That’s why I work with women one-on-one and in groups to help make small, changes and yoga and meditation habits that last.
I want us to be able to water the seeds of peace in ourselves, in the full knowledge that we must be the change we want to see.
You can start your own self-study practice! Really, a little can go a long way. Here are some ways to begin. I challenging you to pick one and start to incorporate it into your day:
5 minutes of meditation in the morning
Reading a little big from inspiring texts each morning or night
Keep a gratitude journal
Practice gentle yoga
Go for walks without headphones
Okay, now it’s your turn.
Do see habits from your parents in you?
In the comments, give an example of two habits, one positive and one not-so-positive, that come from your parents. How do they help or hurt? Add your voice to the discussion!
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