This was originally published on the Happiness Series in March 2011.
By Peter Ferko
People all carry opinions about themselves, and have patterns of response and behavior that are deeply ingrained. Since the moment you were born, you’ve been using whatever tools you have along with your experiences to hone a “self,” or identity. Yogis locate these deeply held beliefs in the energy center called svadisthana, which literally means, “abode of the self,” where their influence plays out unconsciously in your mind and body. The problem with this scenario is that your current experience takes place through the filter of this old self — you are looking at life through a pair of glasses that alter the view. That’s why it’s so hard to change, to break old habits, or to grow.
To move beyond your deeply held belief patterns into something new, you have to be willing — and able — to see things as they are now, rather than constantly reinforcing your old sense of self. While something like therapy might help you see where the patterns came from, yoga aims instead to give you an experience of a present moment free of the filter. Practices like concentration and meditation provide moments of clear perspective, and some guided meditations will encourage the release of patterns on an energetic level. Those present moment experiences help your “self” evolve toward a wiser “Self” who has a more graceful approach to life.
With practice, when you hear yourself thinking, “I’m this that,” or I’m the kind of person who would never be able to blank,” you can pause, take off those filter glasses and look from the perspective of the “Self” that is actually experiencing this moment. The more you practice that new way of knowing, the more you expand toward the best Self you can be.