Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.Lewis Carroll
Who are we exactly? What differentiates one human from another? Clearly, we all have different physical and mental attributes – but which one differs most dramatically? I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb to say that it is our minds. Sure we have identical twins, but are there such things as identical minds?
Physically, we’re very easy to compare. You simply just use your eyes. And if you want to compare yourself to others, you throw a mirror into the mix. From there, it’s easy to deduce what sets you apart. We’ve all compiled a list of things that we love and hate about our physical appearance. And, we’re acutely aware of what things can and cannot be changed. We’ve also accepted that wisdom comes with wrinkles. Well, at least most of us have. Is there a similar way to compare our minds and other hidden attributes?
There is. It’s through Svadhyaya, yet another niyama. This yogic philosophy is all about the inquiry into the self by exercising introspection. This is the figurative mirror that allows us to understand who we are. We’re probably the only life forms on this planet that have this ability. Others can barely pass the mirror test so what are the chances that they can even do self-reflection?
And, just like looking in a mirror, introspection is something that we should practice daily in different situations and environments. Because at different times and in different lights, we will look different. This isn’t a competition and making it so is dangerous. Have faith that who you are is uniquely beautiful and what you see of other people is only the part that has been unveiled. How rare it is to see someone truly naked!
What can we hope to gain by studying ourselves? We can understand who we are better and begin to make improvements so that ultimately we can be the cause of our lives rather than just the effect.