08 Jun Self Study (svadhyaya)
The following is an excerpt from my book “True Happiness: 4 Practices to Promote Inner Peace and Simple Guides to Carry Them Out:”
Studying, or witnessing, your thoughts and actions is a powerful way to create change in your life. In fact it’s pretty much necessary.
Self Study Benefits
The benefits of journaling are many and somewhat similar to those of meditating. Getting thoughts out of our mind and on paper helps to clear our mind. Recognizing thought patterns allows us to evaluate them and correct, or get rid of, those that aren’t useful. It can help us identify where the real problems lie when we are agitated and uncertain why. Or we may think we know why, but find on reflecting that what we thought was the issue, really wasn’t.
My Experience With Journaling
The first time I tried journaling was in late 2005. I had very rigid ideas about journaling being something that strong people just don’t do. But once I stopped drinking and recognized I had a lot of weaknesses, the idea of journaling was something I was willing to try.
At the end of each day I would sit down and go through that days events, focusing on how I felt and acted in different situations. This caused me to see my motivations and intentions, most of which were subconscious and conditioned. They were ingrained and I never really took the time to notice what was going on beneath the surface.
Over time I was able to see the repeating patterns that drove my life. From there change was a possibility and a simple matter of being willing to put in the effort.
In the years since I’ve waffled in my journaling habit and switched from pen and notebook, to apps on my smart phone. I have periods of time when I’m consistent in daily self study and periods when I’m not writing daily. Having journaled for over a year straight in the beginning though, I have trained my mind to see when I’m operating on old or negative patterns of behavior in the moment, or shortly after, instead of simply reflecting on them at day’s end. Journaling is a way to train my mind to get out in front of itself.
The main difficulty is probably either the stigma of journaling (maybe it was just me who thought it was something strong people don’t do) or just creating the habit. Much like meditation, making the decision to try this on a regular basis is the first hurdle. Once you decide you want to do this, it’s simply a process of how you will journal, and setting a time for it.
Preparation For Self Study
Not much preparation is needed. Simply have your chosen way to journal available. It may be helpful to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths before beginning to clear your mind.
May we all be open and receptive to our highest good,