SWADHYAY- Unveil the self


Anchal Rath

Artist and Writer

Independent exploration of self is the need of the hour. To start with a question- what all activities do you do on daily/weekly/monthly basis that cultivate your self-reflective consciousness? Education, consciousness, exploration- these do not make much sense in a scattered manner. Let’s start with the basic meaning of ‘Swadhyay’.

The literal meaning of Swadhyay is self-study or the study of the self. Further, it has often been acknowledged as self-education, self-exploration, self-discovery, self-analysis etc.

It has its root in ancient Indian literature which connotes it as ‘the study of one’s own self and scriptures’ or ‘contemplation’. Well, the modern Swadhyay involves ‘any activity that cultivates the self-reflective consciousness’, as suggested by Helen Hawkes in her article titled as ‘opening up to love’.

Why is it important?

In this life, the best one can do is explore one’s own self. Swadhyay aims at bringing the experience of that immense consciousness, the self, to awareness. It can literally help re-wire the brain. It is important as it results in self-development and social transformation.

One’s self-discovery will help in learning the positives and negatives, strengths and weakness of the self and guide towards self-acceptance and self-realization. Working on strengths and eliminating the weaknesses will develop one’s sense of self, resulting in transformation.

Some ways of practicing Swadhyay

1. Practice meditation:

Initially meditation will make one aware about the flow of breath: duration and eventually proper control over inhalation and exhalation contributing to self-awareness and sense of self-control. It will also lead to greater awareness of one’s thought patterns. Practicing meditation helps with breath awareness and contemplation on our thoughts and emotions.

In this fast-paced world, none of us ever stops to think, observer and analyze. Many of us even find it difficult to sit still for literally 1 minute. Through meditation, we learn to become more grounded and stable. We acquire the confidence to take on the challneges of life and accept things as they come.

2. Read good books:

One may read scriptures such as Bhagwad Gita, Patanjali’s Yogsutras, and the Upanishads. These timeless teachings are an effective way to practice Swadhyay. One can also read the many self-help books available in the market. The experiences and wisdom of others can help us on our own journey.

There is so much negativity and violence in what we consume today, whether it is movies or video games or the news. If our mind is fed with this garbage all the time, how can we ever hope to become peaceful and calm? So, in today’s world, it is more important than ever to read good literature to empower the mind.

3. Practice Yoga:

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. The approach we adopt in practicing yoga reflects the approach we take on in practicing life. The adherence to yoga mat and practice may disconnect one from daily distractions and connect one from the center of awareness at different body regions, again contributing to self-exploration.

It has not only incredible health benefits, but research is increasingly showing that it helps with mental and emotional well-being too.

4. Explore passions:

What we enjoy doing, whether professionally or personally gives us insight into who we are. It gives wings to our dreams and helps us discover our strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and fears.

We spend so much time doing things we don’t like or things we are expected to do by society. But those don’t really help us much on our journey of self-development. What really helps us is discovering what really drives us and committing to pursuing that work/hobby/activity.

Through these simple and powerful steps, we can move forward on the path of Swadhyay.

View more content by Anchal Rath

A great article explaining the age old concept 😃
Rimjhim Vasher
Life mantras.
anchal rath
Indeed. Indeed. Indeed. Thank you 🙏🏻
Bhartiya Manovigyan
Absolute explanation of swadhyay