Self Inquiry. Evolve yourself. Have you heard these words spoken in yoga class and wondered what these concepts actually mean?
To me, learning how not to repeat the same mistakes in life is the definition of successful self-inquiry and evolution.
Just as yoga teaches you to touch your toes, yoga also invites you to engage in the process of your life, so you can become a virtuoso at being yourself.
For all the "be-in-the-present-moment-talk," we hear in class, yoga also teaches the value of “being in the past” and pressing into the future.
In order to change, you need to take an honest look at the successes, as well as the blunders, you’ve made in the past and look to the future to know what will happen next.
One of my teachers once said, “We keep doing the same stupid thing expecting a different result.”
This is called samsara, which literally means “caught in the current.”
Good yoga invites you to learn how to replace bad habits with more efficacious ones, so you can become the current instead of getting caught in the current.
Habits that do not serve, like choosing to date the wrong kind of person over and over, neglecting our self-care, or eating too many sweets and feeling sluggish afterwards are just a few examples.
Once recognized, you can shift negative patterns by cultivating new, better habits, such as meditating daily, telling the truth, or eating well.
Sounds great, right? But how do you actually do the work it takes to evolve?
You can start by understanding the approaches that yoga source teachings offer.
Practical yogic strategies for effective self-inquiry and personal evolution:
Tapas is the burning desire to change. It is the discipline required to create new samskaras, or habits. Samskara literally means “groove” much like the way wagon wheels leave a groove in the dirt.
To create a new habit, you have to start a new groove, otherwise your wagon wheel keeps getting sucked back into the original track. You’ve got to want it.
If you’re burned by an unworthy romantic partner yet again and vow to choose someone better next time, there’s great power in your desire and commitment to do whatever it takes to make a new groove.
Vac means “the power of speech.” The words you speak to others and to yourself matter when you want to make a new groove.
Your words are formed by past experiences, which crystallize into beliefs that underlie your thoughts and behaviors.
For example, if your past experience has led you to carry the belief that “There are no good men or women left” or “I’ll always be a smoker,” or “I just love dating bad boys,” you may continue to perpetuate that experience, until you replace your words with those that are more authentic and reflective of your true desires and values.
To shift your vac, create a turn-around statement, such as, “I date people who are worthy of my company and encourage my growth.”
Vivecana is a word I recently discovered from scholar Douglas Brooks, to describe the ability to receive feedback. He defined it as “the capacity to receive discriminating, sometimes difficult input, with a keen sense of the value of a worthwhile argument, one that comes from a deep interest in serving others' hearts and interests as well one's own.”
Vivecana is the insistence on higher standards and lowering expectations.
It’s important to surround yourself with those who witness your behavior and will hold you accountable. It’s vitally important to take in what they say without defensiveness as you progress toward your goals.
Shraddha means Faith and “where you put your heart.”
Grace will meet you as soon as you place your heart into the conviction to change (Tapas).
Suddenly, you meet exactly the right mentor to help you, or doors open to new unprecedented opportunities.
Perhaps one of the most valuable promises of yoga is this: if you do the work, you will get results. It is the promise of a greater life; a life that keeps evolving the more you show up with sincerity and honesty.