Svadhyaya | Self-study

In any given day we have countless thoughts that cross the mind.  Many times for me they are so rapid that the individual thoughts merge into a pattern and these patterns can play on repeat.  For example if I am in a conversation with a colleague while we are talking thoughts about our previous discussions come to mind.  I might recall past times that I was upset or did not feel like I was being heard.  In this case the emotions that are attached to those thoughts are strong and not very positive.  This influence of emotion or coloring of my thoughts are referred to as klishta in yoga philosophy.

Klishta or colored though patterns often are unpleasant.  They can be either very slight or so overwhelming that they can be very disturbing.  How do we obtain these colorings? In a word everywhere.  If you believe in the idea or reincarnation we can carry these from our previous lives.  They also come from all of the influences that have shaped our experience from childhood to this very day.

Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati, has a section of his website called Witnessing Your Thoughts in Yoga Practice.  He suggests a way of training the mind to delve into our thoughts.

1. Thought arises
2. Ask, “is this thought colored or not colored?”
3. Answer comes, “colored” or “not colored”
4.  Ask, “is this thought usefulness?”
5. Answer comes, “not useful” or “useful”
6. Train the mind with, “mind this is not useful” or “mind this is useful”
7. Then you can either let go, explore or cultivate the thought

Taking a moment to determine the coloring of our thoughts and their usefulness our day can be a great way to begin self study.  Beginning to notice our thoughts and their patterns could be a gateway into our exploration of the month, Svadhyaya-self study.