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Svadhyaya or the art of courageous self-inquiry

Posted on 7/9/2015 by Wendy Reese in Courage Svadhyaya self-study honest abandonment
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There was a moment in my life when I realized that I couldn’t blame anyone else for what I was experiencing, feeling, or doing. Every action was mine alone and until I owned that, I would remain out of control.

I had spent much of my life in a constant fear of abandonment. A childhood perception that gave away my power with each person I blamed for not having been there for me when I needed them the most. I even created situations to fulfill the prophecy that I was unworthy of anyone sticking around. However, the moment that everything changed was when I realized the only person who had abandoned me was myself, everything shifted.

I began a process of what the yogi’s call svādhyāya, or self-study. Why did I do this? What was it serving? What was the payoff? At first, this process seemed fruitless as the ego tried to shift the blame externally. Staying in presence with the awareness that the abandonment was mine alone and truly facing it with a curiosity akin to childlike wonder, I was able to go a little deeper into the needs that resided within the actions.

Being willing to be courageously honest with myself, what I discovered was that I replicated the first time I felt like I was not safe to be fully me. If I showed up in my full brilliance, people I relied on to love and protect me shut down. I thought it was my fault. It felt horrible. My mind mad a little map in my head so I could try to avoid feeling like that again. The problem with that is my soul needed to be free in order for me to be fully me. 

I needed to feel safe, accepted, and loved. Yet, I was searching outside of myself, rather than loving and accepting myself, believing in my deepest wisdom, and trusting myself and my intuition. Realizing this, my svādhyāya deepened. What would it take for me to love myself? Trust myself? Accept myself?

First, I had to be aware of what I was feeling. Good or bad, right or wrong, I simply had to acknowledge it and observe it. What was beneath the surface of that feeling? Was there a need not being met? Was I projecting or deflecting for other needs and emotions?

Next, I had to take my power back. I was responsible for my feelings and how long I wanted to stay emotionally attached to whatever I was feeling in the moment. If a situation or person triggered me, I’d take a moment to explore it and decide if I wanted to stay angry, frustrated, or sad. If I did, I knew there was something more to explore. If I did not want to stay attached, I had to decide what I did want to feel and take some inspired action to get there.

Finally, I started focusing on what I thought was “right” rather than “wrong” about me, building on successes rather than focusing on failures, and seeking ways to iterate on anything that wasn’t working. That included relationships. I taught people who to treat me. That meant re-training some people and letting others go. It meant teaching me how to treat myself, too. I could no longer make poor choices or have negative self talk and unrealistic expectations and expect to feel anything other than poor.

I still practice svādhyāya on a regular basis. These changes take time and are layered. there’s always more to explore and uncover. I find the process is easier and faster now, almost second nature. I am far more balanced and happy, accepting and loving of myself. The fear of abandonment is gone because I was willing to get to the root and lovingly dig it up and remove it. 

By Wendy Reese


Wendy Reese is a lifestyle strategist who specializes in whole being, author, and RYT-500 with 13 years of teaching experience. You can find more and do the free 7 day lifestyle detox at www.wholebeinginc.com/detox Visit www.wholebeinginc.com/detox

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