YOGA AND SELF-AWARENESS
We all have life in us and we call ourselves “alive”. But what is the quality of life that we are living? The most crucial factor that determines the quality of any individuals’ life is his level of self-awareness. Without self-awareness an individual continues to live in ignorance and is dead even while he is living. Self-awareness simply put is awareness of the self, it is being aware of your own self. The “self” has manifested itself in this creation in the form of body, breath and mind and hence self-awareness encompasses the awareness of all these three.
In this creation as human beings it is of utmost importance that one is aware of the self. It is also important to understand that body, mind and breath are interconnected and just mirror images of each other, hence any change or distortion in one will naturally cause a variation in the other two. In this creation, leading the life, human beings encounter challenges from nature in the form of different life situations. In absence of self-awareness, a person would tend to get carried away by these situations and thus let his mind, breath and body get disturbed by them. A person who is aware however, will simply witness these situations as an external thing. The capability to witness the life happening is one of the beautiful gifts that comes from self- awareness. When one begins to witness the happening of life (by being aware), he is able to pull himself out and separate himself from these life situations, this in turn not only prevents emotional damage to the person but also makes sure that the individual begins to act rather than re act. Self-awareness thus brings the individuals closer to wisdom; he is able to make better decisions and has an overall better quality of life. Also, when one becomes a mere witness of the life happening, gradually he is also able to break himself free from the cycle of Karma by breaking the chain of action-reaction.
The quality of self-awareness ensures that the experiences of the nature are not allowed to create an impression on the “self”, hence the individual begins to simply express from the inside without being affected by the influences of the outside. This gives immense strength and a state of freedom to the individual. This state of an individual can be compared to that of a lotus flower, which grows in marsh and muddy soil but keeps its beauty all through. Thus an individual in spite of being surrounded by unfavorable circumstances, situations and people will still remain unaffected and blossom like a lotus flower.
SELF AWARENESS THROUGH YOGA
Yoga practice is to tame the mind. This taming of the mind happens on the mat by way of self-awareness. Neither is the practice of posture a mere physical exercise nor is the practice of pranayama a mere exercise of the breath. What makes them Yoga is the quality of self-awareness involved.
While doing postures, a practitioner is required to be aware of his whole body. Our body is the outer expression of the “self” and hence is as vast and infinite as the self itself. In the practice of postures, a practitioner tries to be aware of this infinite expression of the self in different positions of the body. This brings a great quality of self-awareness as the mind is trained to be in balance in different life situations. Body, breath and mind are the expression of self in nature and hence when one trains to be aware of the distortions in these three (in posture practice) and still manages to be in balance by sheer awareness, this adds extra ordinary quality of self-awareness in daily life while encountering different life situations.