This week we have been looking at some options for how to engage in self-study. For some people this may be revisiting ideas they have looked into before, for others it may be completely new. Take your time, pace yourself. There is a lot to consider and there is no need to feel you have to explore everything under the sun. Just looking at where you seem to naturally be guided, as well as what you naturally tend to avoid, can provide you with endless hours of practice. Yes, this is part of the practice of yoga, albeit off the mat.
So how can we integrate what we are finding in our own expressive and receptive skills?
My recommendation for you is to consciously attempt to shake up your own habitual method of engaging the world.
If you tend to be stoic, and you have chosen to work with gestures or facial expression, you can use a variety of times during the day, and interactions with others to explore it. This can take the form of consciously employing new techniques or gestures to see what fits, and how others react.
Note: Gauging how others react to your new expression will also require that you use your receptive skills. But, keep in mind that you may need to use skills you do not normally work with in that arena. If you are normally very visually oriented, try paying careful attention to sounds you hear, the feelings you get from others, or proximity to others. This is a kind of openness that many people feel nervous about.
I suggest that you just pick one avenue to explore, and choose when you will pay attention. For example, you could choose to use the expressive skill of telling jokes while on an excursion to a new store. Also, plan to pay attention to the non-verbal cues that people give you, rather than the words they say, to get a feel for how it is going. It may feel like you are practicing being someone else, but you are not. You are widening your own involvement in the world. Trust that you can never be anything other than yourself anyway.
If you need to refresh your own memory about receptive and expressive skills, be sure to scrool down to see the posts from yesterday and the day before. Remember that you can always call or write for support by contacting me as listed on the services page (click on the “Services” link at the top of this page).
A final consideration about the integration of these skills. The reason we are doing this is not to really change who we are, but to become more fully aware of ourselves in all the ways we can interact. To experience the whole of what we are, and what we can be, it is sometimes necessary to push the envelope and try to live at our edge. In yoga classes, on the mat, teachers often describe finding the edge of your pose, the edge of the movement. It is that place where we feel we are active and moving into the pose, are “feeling” the pull or the effort, but are not harming ourselves. This is how the body relaxes into what it can naturally do. You gain more flexibility more quickly when you do not force, but allow this “walk to the edge” of your poses. But the mind and the spirit also benefit from walking to the edge. Self-study is not just reading. It is coming to experience the whole of who we are and what we can be in this life. In this way, we can increase the calm and flexibility of our own expression and intensify the clarity of the messages and communication we receive from the world around us.
My hope is that you will feel you can play with who you are and how you express yourself in a way that enriches your experience of this life.