Applying the Principle of Svadhyaya

With the Svadhyaya component, I had quite an enlightening experience. Both recent and long-ranging personal history has led me to the core of my emotions regarding the dog-off-leash contacts I’ve made as a park patroller. In the spring of 2010, my mother-in-law was walking her Cairn terrier around the block. She doesn’t venture out very far because of Macular Degeneration in her eyes leaving her legally blind. Unfortunately, on this day, a neighbor’s dog got out of its yard and attacked my mother-in-law’s dog. In the commotion, she fell breaking her nose along with other scratches and scrapes. The neighbors responsible were gracious enough to pay the medical expenses and come to visit. But the memory of her injuries has made me more sensitive to the situation when I see people deliberately let their dogs run loose.

Some deep historical reflections led to the realization that my behavior explorations originated in childhood. I was ‘the good son’ in my family. I did what I was told and was relied upon to complete my chores to keep the house functioning. My younger brother got away with things including not doing his chores. The sibling rivalry was typical and it did have a lasting impression on me when I would see someone bending or breaking the rules. It was a point of self-righteousness for me that stroked my ego. I thought it made me a better person than the people who would cut corners or dodge the rules. The Svadhyaya experiment was valuable in helping me peel away the “ego structure” tied to these “unconscious configurations” that Richard Freeman talks about in The Mirror of Yoga. This observational skill is an integral part of the yoga practice.