The other day, I dreamed that someone called me self-centered. I can’t remember how I reacted to it, but it stayed in my mind beause, from time to time, I do ask myself if I am self-centered. If I play a bit with the idea, I have to say, that yes, I am self-centered. The world around me unfolds itself through the lens of my mind. This lens is tinted with my own perceptions. Thus, every experience is a self-centered experience.
I am also self-centered in my practice of Yoga because I want to improve my interactions with the world around me and the only way I see to achieve this is by directing my vision inwards. I believe that spending my energy on getting to know, accept and refine my thoughts and perceptions is a better investment than trying to change the world to make it fit my expectations.
I also believe that through this inner work, it will become clearer for me how to invest my energy in the world in a more positive and meaningful way instead of blindly engaging in everything with unconscious and sometimes conscious expectation that the world around me will fulfill my deeper needs such as love, peace and happiness.
Through my study of the Yoga philosophy, I have learned that we all have something called svadharma. Svadharma is our individual duty in the world and it is connected to our capabilities. For what I understand, it has an element of service for the benefit of the whole.
The challenge for some of us is to find out what our svadharma is since from birth, we play many different roles in life (i.e. son/daughter, student, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, employer/employee, etc). An interesting idea to reflect over is that none of these roles can define who we are. Each role has its own sort of “job description” and we put our own personal touch to it, but if we were to stop playing any of these roles, we would still be who we are. These roles are here to help us realize ourselves as we learn something new at each experience.
Some of us play many roles, some of them by obligation, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t become a struggle for us. But I believe that the thiner we spread ourselves in the practical world, the less we have to give, and evenmore, we might end up loosing ourselves in these roles without knowing who we are and what our capabilities really are.
Therefore, I think I benefit from prioritizing the roles I believe are important, and letting go of those that I can let go of. I want to give my best in my roles and still have energy for myself. So, yes, I am often self-centered but my theory is that at the start of the inner journey we need to let go of a lot that we are not. Such as things we do and roles we have out of habit or social expectations. Then, as we start feeling more confident and comfortable with who we are, the opportunities to engage positively and meaningfully in the world will present themselves to us.
And then, these roles will be played more naturally, with what in Yoga is called “effortless effort”.