At a yoga and meditation workshop last weekend, I participated in didactic dialogues with three other people. This was my first experience with the concept.
We were put in pairs. One person was the asker, and was instructed not to say anything other than asking the single question, make any facial expressions, or display any sign of empathy towards the other person. The person being asked the question was to continue talking for ten minutes. Our first question was:
How do you see yourself?
Then we would switch roles. Inevitably, the dialogue becomes a monologue and one cannot help but delve into the depths of the self. This self-investigation and exploration is an essential aspect of the yoga practice. It’s part of the second limb of yoga, the niyamas. Desikachar translates this Sanskrit word to mean “self discipline”. Among the niyamas, there is svadhyaya, or self-study.
To do yoga is get to know oneself. It’s an intense, intimate undertaking. It strips away all the nice, comfortable layers and leaves nothing untouched. It’s only a matter of time before the self, the ego, and all other working parts are put under a microscope.
It’s not just about discovering the bad things, though, the things we’d rather not think about. It’s also realizing that those things we think are so awful, really aren’t. A wonderful side effect of this medicine is that we’re so busy examining our own lives that we don’t have time to judge anyone else’s. Why do we judge people in the first place? Probably because there is something inside us that we’d rather avoid.
This weekend inspired me to do a little more digging. So I got out my scissors and some poster board. I’d been meaning to cut up some old Yoga Journal magazines, anyway. So, here is my visual response to the question, “How do you see yourself?” (Click on it to make it bigger!)