Knowledge of the self impacts human thought and action – – Indian NewsLink

Posted: May 9, 2021 at 1:55 am

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Awareness is knowledge of oneself and surroundings and self-awareness are the ability to see oneself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection.

The intuitive mind is a Sacred Gift (Picture Supplied)

Research shows that self-awareness has a direct impact on how we think, feel, act, as well as how we react to our thoughts, feelings and actions. If we have the conscious knowledge of our own character, feelings, motives and desires, then this level of internal understanding may just be the most powerful tool we can have in our life.

One of the drawbacks of living in our hectic, fast-paced society that equates external achievement with self-worth, is that we lack connection with our own bodies and have lost touch with our inner self.

Many of us have a clue who we are our inner self remains hidden behind an outer facade that we create, an effort which is externally directed.

Yogic Science offers a systematic approach to internalise and be connected with ourselves.

Reason for self-awareness

Increased self-awareness has the potential to enhance virtually every experience we have, as it is a tool and a practice that can be used anywhere, anytime, to ground ourselves in the moment and, realistically evaluate any situation.

There are well-researched benefits to the practice self-awareness: (1) It can make us more proactive, boost our acceptance, and encourage positive self-development (Sutton, 2016) (2) It allows us to see things from the perspective of others, practiceself-control, work creatively and productively, and experience pride in ourselves and our work as well as general self-esteem (Silvia & OBrien, 2004) (3) It leads to better decision-making (Ridley, Schutz, Glanz, & Weinstein, 1992) (4) It can make us better at our jobs, better communicators in the workplace, and enhance our self-confidence and job-related wellbeing (Sutton, Williams, & Allinson, 2015).

Sacred Gift

Albert Einstein said: The intuitive mind is a sacred Gift, and the rational mind is a Faithful Servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Our intuition is the gut feeling that tells us if we are on the right track.

Think about it, has our gut feeling ever really been wrong? When our self-awareness game is strong, we know that it is our best bet to trust what our intuition is telling us about decisions, situations and people. According to renowned psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, self-awareness is also a necessary building block for emotional intelligence.

How do we inculcate self-awareness in our lives?

An article in The Harvard Business Review noted that only 10-15% of the people studied display self-awareness, although most of us believe we are self-aware (Eurich, 2018).

The path to healthy and happy living is through self-awareness (Picture Supplied)

Inherent Learning

The Sanskrit word Svadhyaya (self-study) like many, has a richer history than cannot easily be captured in English. The first part of the word, Sva, means own, self. The second part, Dhyaya means to study, to contemplate, to think on, to call to mind.

Thus, it translates as to study ones own self.

In the ancient Vedic scriptures, self-study is considered an inherent part of our learning, and is quoted as, Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the Self.

The cap and lower self

In many pieces of writing regarding the practice of Yoga, when we see the wordself, written with small s, it refers to ourselves in this physical form, our ego, and who we consider ourselves to be on a daily basis. When we read the word Self with a capital S, this refers tothetrue self,Atman, orthe Divine, Eternal Consciousness within all of us.

The small self is mostly concerned with survival, which usually entails getting what it wants in all situations. It judges, criticises, fears, conditions, doubts and is essentially the cause of theChitta Vrittis,or fluctuations of the mind. By paying attention to, or studying our self, we become more aware of the things that hinder our thinking and also those which serve us and bring us closer to that process of uniting with the true Self.

This quote by Lao Tzu conveys how important self-awareness is for us: Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

The SWAN Method

Just as we use SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) within our businesses, we can use SWAN analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Aspirations & Needs) to gain a better understanding and acceptance of ourselves. We get empowerment by understanding and discriminating between our strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and needs.

We may not think about these qualities. Yet, at every moment they are active in our lives and dictate who we are. If we dont understand ourselves at a deeper level, then what is the quality of our existence? If we wish to direct, control and guide the subtle expressions of our personality, awareness has to be extended into these areas.

Types of weaknesses

These strengths and weaknesses are physical, mental or spiritual.

The strengths can be willpower, compassion or anything that can be applied positively and constructively in life, traits which help us evolve and grow. Weaknesses can be a lack of mental clarity, tension, and other such traits which sometimes overshadow the strengths or positive aspects of our life.

The challenge therefore is to improve the awareness of our strengths, as these can be applied constructively to overcome our weaknesses, which unfortunately we rarely do.

We need to accept our shortcomings and take the time to learn from rather than dwell on them. Our aspirations and ambitions may be external in relation to family, society, fame and status. How can we shift these to become more internal, such as wanting to be a more compassionate person?

We also have our needs, which are physical, emotional (such as relationships), mental (such as satisfaction) and spiritual. We can reflect on how to reduce our material needs to make our life simpler.

SWAN Meditation Practice

Sit comfortably in a meditation position, keeping spine, head, neck, shoulders straight and in alignment. Gently close your eyes. Then, become aware of your whole physical body from head to toe. Allow the entire body to relax in this position. Become aware of the natural breath, settle into a rhythmic breath and feel the whole body becoming calm and still.

As you hone into the space directly in front of your closed eyes, bring your focus to one aspect of SWAN (say strength), and pay attention to the top 3-5 attributes that come to you easily of their own accord. Similarly, become aware of the top 3-5 strengths that you want to develop. Continue in the same zone and try not think of any one particular trait.

Is there a strength that comes to your mind?

If yes, this will be your best strength. If nothing comes to mind, let it be, it may come in a subsequent reflective session.

The Om Mantra

Now move onto visualising a small, steady, brightly burning candle flame just in front of your closed eyes, and chant the mantra Om, or a mantra of your choice three times. Slowly come back into the physical space and body. Move your fingers, stretch the body, release the posture and open your eyes.

Carry on this practice to visualise your weaknesses, aspirations and needs.

Meditation is the first step to identify our SWAN, followed by self-reflection. We may find that as our minds are restless, we move from one of our SWAN traits into the next at an incredible pace, so fast that we are unable to differentiate between our strengths, weaknesses, aspirations or needs.

Life is full of trials, and Yoga is a lifelong learning process about ourselves and so, we need to go slow and fully assimilate one aspect of our personality to derive benefit from this process. As a Sadhana (discipline or dedicated practice) for one month, pick up only one strength and cultivate it to the maximum, or focus in a month to overcome only one weakness. Use these monthly reflective sessions also to update your SWAN attributes as you will continuously gain better personal insights.

As Swami Niranjanananda aptly summarises, Ultimately, through the practices of SWAN meditation, a stage of integration is reached wherein the different levels of the personality -instinctive, emotional, mental and psychic, are able to function and coordinate harmoniously. The fragmented aspects of the human personality, which hinder and limit creative potential, are gradually unified and reinforced, creating more positive channels of expression.

Designing Yoga Practice

When it comes to designing a Yoga practice, its easier to picture doing seated forward bends and downward dogs than engaging with theYamas (Restraints)andNiyamas(Observances) these being the first two rungs on the ladder of classical Yoga.

Postures fit into a daily schedule and have beginnings, middles, and ends. But yogic attitudes such as cultivating positivity and contentment are more contemplative in nature and require a measure of truthful self-examination. As a result, they tend to fall off our practice map.

Perhaps it is time to dig a little deeper into the underpinnings of Yoga, Svadhyaya in the sense of studying ourselves in daily life involves taking our Yoga practice off the mat and exploring the nature of Yoga itself.

Amal Karl is Group Chief Executive of FxMed New Zealand, NaturalMeds New Zealand and RN Labs Australia and Director of other companies. He lives in Auckland. The above is the second of two article on the subject. To read his first article, please click here. The above article has been sponsored by

Knowledge of the self impacts human thought and action - - Indian NewsLink

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May 9th, 2021 at 1:55 am

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