Know thyself

Since I was teenager, I realized the importance of knowing oneself. I remember I made “Know thyself” as the opening greeting of my mobile phone (a Siemens C55 – that shows how long ago it was!)

What does “knowing oneself” mean? There are many answers to this:

  1. Knowing your own strength and weakness
  2. Knowing where you are right now
  3. Knowing where you are going in life and why are you going towards that
  4. Knowing why you are here, what is your purpose
  5. Knowing what is important to you, your priorities

Along the way, as I progressed through education, relationships, career, I forgotten about how important knowing yourself is.

Not knowing clearly the answers to  “Who am I? What am I doing here? Where am I going? Why am I going there?” made me like a raft with no paddle in the vast ocean. Just floating wherever the current go. Lost. Powerless.

I’m blessed that even though I was just floating, I wasn’t faced to a very harsh situation and condition. I did okay in university. I immediately got a job afterwards. My career progressed. I got married. The usual thing young adults went through.

But I still felt lost. I felt something is missing. I often thought – is this all there is? Wake up, work, go home, dinner, watch TV, read books, sleep, repeat. Like running in a wheel; we feel we run fast and hard yet we’re not going anywhere.

And then I found yoga. At the beginning I enjoyed it as a variation of physical exercise, I loved how it made me feel very relaxed afterwards. I loved how during that hour I can just focus on myself. As I practice more I started to feel the more subtle effects; I feel myself more – I became aware of my body more. Then I started to look into learning yoga more seriously. I did workshops, I browsed for teacher trainings.

I was about to enroll to this teacher training in Ubud; a significant investment of time and money. But decided to try his class first at the Bali Spirit Festival 2009. In that Bali Spirit Festival did my first Sankalpa and came to know about Swami Satyananda from Swami Shankardev. I ended up not going to any of this teacher’s class at all but sat in all Swami Shankardev’s session. And I want to learn more.

It took a couple of years until I finally enrolled to Satyananda Yoga Academy. It requires quite a lot of resources – money obviously as I have to fly back and forth to live in the ashram; and time, as we had to do a lot of self study and self practice. This is the time when I learn about the importance of Sadhana – spiritual practice. The yoga training was 2 years – significantly longer than other teacher trainings, and requires a lot of self-discipline. In this 2 years I grew a lot, spiritually. It is during this time that I started to yearn for a guru.

After I finished the yoga training at Satyananda Yoga Academy, I tried to keep my sadhana going, but it wasn’t happening. I’m lazy/tired/got no time/in a rush/etc – I just didn’t do it. I tried, but not hard enough obviously. I slipped back to the old routine; wake up, work, go home, sleep, repeat. Floating.

Then I took another teacher training, this time is from Fitness First, Flow Yoga Training. I took it because I found what I learned from Satyananda Yoga Academy is more suitable for more experienced practicioners because the practices are more subtle, and most of my yoga asana students are beginner practitioners. Although this training is more focused on asana, still there are some philosophical stuff; so during this time I read more about yoga philosophy again. And stumbled upon Swamiji’s blog. And then met him and realised I’m blessed with a living guru (more complete story – Guru: the dispeller of darkness).

Meeting him is like plugging myself into a charger. I’m charged up spiritually. Sadhana happens naturally; I automatically wake up at 4:00 am to do morning meditation. I look forward towards the end of the day before bed for my evening meditation. Now when I sit, the mind quietens quickly – I used to have to fuss around and wait for a while before the mind chatter stop; now it just go quiet immediately.

Another after effect is I’m now so much more in tune with my own body; I made better choices of what I let into my body. Coffee used to be my biggest vice, I can give up a lot of things but not coffee (I tried. A few times.) Now I have no desire to drink coffee (although I am sleepy due to lack of sleep due to waking up at 4 am). And no desire to eat highly processed food. Nor sweetened drinks. And I eat less.

Going back to the original topic, knowing thyself. Even if we are not sure about who we really are, usually we know who we are not. Then we can reduce or stop the activity that moves you toward that thing we aren’t. Example – I realized a while back that I don’t like creating desire in people to buy newest gadget; so I decided to stop working there. When we eliminate things that doesn’t go along with who we are from our lives, then we know where not to go. Keep doing this, and slowly but surely it will become clearer to you who you really are, where you want to go, and what is important to you.

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