Svadhyaya: understand ourselves

Sometimes try to understand ourselves it’s even more complicated than try to understand others. At least, it is what always happened to me. I’m great in giving advice, in understanding someone’s else situation but when it comes to me, to understand who am I. Well, that’s totally another story. That’s what our first assignment in my yoga class was about: understand ourselves, in Sanskrit SVHADYAYA.

As my beloved Wikipedia says:

“Svādhyāya (Devanagari: स्वाध्याय) is a Sanskrit term which literally means “one’s own reading” and “self-study”.

My yoga teacher described it as:

“Self-reflection is a form of self-study, and in yogic terms is called “svadhyaya.” Svadhyaya, in it’s beginning forms, is a way in which we can learn to see ourselves more deeply. Svadhyaya can be a way of changing the way we think about ourselves by pointing our attention towards more purposeful, and meaningful ways of engaging with life. Svadhyaya is metacognitive (being aware of and understanding your own thinking) by nature, and is also considered to be a spiritual endeavor and in the context of connecting with ourselves and others. We can learn a lot about ourselves by considering how others perceive us”. 

Svadhyaya. It’s such a difficult word that means so much. So I sat cross-legged on my huge king size bed, my laptop in front of me, a cup of matcha latte on my nightstand and I started my journey. What came out was actually something that I’m proud of. I’ve never thought of myself in the ways I did in that paper. I seriously tried to understand those parts of my personality that I’ve never overthought. I helped myself with some quotes on Pinterest that I had saved in one of my boards. I know, it may sound stupid, but what I saved in that board helped me so much. The teacher required two handwritten pages. At the end, I had 3 pages fully written.

Who am I? It’s not an easy question. I’ve been living with myself for 24 years and still, I have problems trying to understand parts of me. I know I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m someone’s au pair, I’m someone’s friend and probably someone’s enemy. But above that, who am I is still a question that makes me nervous. I know that I’m not the same person I was when I decided to move to the States one year ago. A lot of people, when I told them I was moving for two years in the States described me as BRAVE. I’ve never considered myself as a brave person until I realized that what I was going to do wasn’t something that anyone could do. Leave your family, your friends, your hometown and all you know for the unknown. I didn’t consider myself brave not because I have a low self-esteem of myself but because what I was doing was something that I knew I wanted to do since I was in high school. It was a dream. Just now I understand that following your dreams make you brave in others people eyes.

I found a word, a couple of months ago, that I think describes myself at the best: AMBIVERT. An ambivert is a person who has a balance of extrovert and introvert features in their personalities. I’ve always struggled growing up trying to understand if I was more introvert or extrovert. Somebody described me as an introvert, other as extrovert so I was always wondering which one of those two adjectives described me the best. When I found the word “ambivert” I found my adjective. I’m the kind of person who loves to go on adventures, to take a flight and discover other cultures, hang out with friends and create memories. On the other hand, sometimes I just want to lay in bed and watch Netflix by myself. I’ve never been afraid of loneliness. Sometimes I need a pause from people and I need to enjoy my presence, I like it.

I’m also a very CONFUSED person when it comes to my future. I moved to the States with the purpose to fulfill a dream and find my road. I studied Foreign Languages in Italy, Spanish and English. I chose that faculty because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. About my future, I tried to create a plan but I’m NOT CONSTANT. Before I left Italy my two childhood best friends and I promised each other to meet ourselves in 15 years somewhere in the world to celebrate our friendship and see if we accomplished our goals. At the time I was totally into screenwriting so my goal was to work in that industry. Now, one year later, I don’t think that’s what I want to do. I change my mind so easily that people lost track of what I want to do. My mom always asks me if I made up my mind. I always change the subject because I don’t know. One thing that I promised myself at the start of 2017 was to stop worrying about the future. Stop overthinking about where I will be in one year and live the moment. I have to enjoy this year, then I’ll see. I’m basically a MESS sometimes but it’s ok. I’ve always felt comfortable in my own messy world that, to me, is not messy at all.

I’m also a THINKER and sometimes an OVERTHINKER. Since I was a kid I have always been the kid with the head in the clouds. I started to write stories on my mom’s computer when I was young. It was my moment to unleash all my thoughts. I always felt like writing helped me not to lose my mind. I’m a KEEPER, not in the sense that I love to collect things. No, I’m a keeper in the sense that I don’t share my problems with everyone. I keep them for myself. Keeping all inside my mind without sharing can be dangerous, that’s why I started writing. Release my problems on paper always helped me to figure out the problem without bothering people. Ok, sometimes it is not the best technique ever.

I’m a POSITIVE person that loves to see the bright side of life. I learned to fall but I’ve always stood up again. Being positive helped me against my fears.

Since I’m in the States I always introduce myself with: “hi, I’m Elena and I’m ITALIAN”. It helps me remember where I’m from. I truly believe that where we are from makes us, us. It shapes us in a  way that few things can.

I’m a TRAVELER. If I could I would travel forever and be TRILINGUAL helped me so much. It wasn’t something that I planned but I ended up speaking two more languages besides Italian. It opened my mind, it keeps my mind always trained and it makes me feel like a superhuman in my little.

That’s me. A bunch of adjectives under the name ELENA.

When I finished I looked at what I wrote. How did I end up thinking that I didn’t know myself to write three pages full of adjectives about my personality? I was seriously surprised and every time I read it I feel like, mostly at the beginning, I made clear who I really am. The power of Svadhayaya is amazing and surprising. If you are reading this post and you’ve never done a Svadhyaya I deeply recommend you to do it. Look inside yourself. You are the only one who truly knows you.




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