Yoga is my laboratory

“I am going home to be a rat in the lab of my life.”, I said to Stephen Cope.  We were at the book signing session after a weekend getaway at Kripalu.

“Are you a scientist?”, he asked me.

“No,” I replied.  “I’m a small animal veterinarian.”

And we went on to talk a about his own little dog, as he signed my copies of his two books.

I’ve been observing myself (aka “the rat”) a lot over the last two years, since I started practicing yoga (my lab).  It’s similar to how I’d approach an animal with a limp or a dog with behavioural issues.  I take a step back, try to look at the problem from a distance and then determine what it was that I actually saw.

Observing myself is part of my off-the-mat inquiry into svadhyaya or self-study.  In this niyama, Deborah Adele talks about how the True Self is hidden underneath layers of beliefs and conditioning that have been created over a lifetime of experiences.  Somewhere, deep within, there hides an “Authentic Me”.  Analyzing all those layers of thought requires accessing a Witness, an observer that brings everything into the light of reality.

There are moments when I suspect I’m getting glimpses of my True Self.  At those times, what I’m doing feels absolutely right for me.  I’m not being influenced by my expectations and assumptions.  But I have questions.  How do I know that I am not creating some weird alter ego instead of finding this Authentic Me?  Is it possible for the Witness to turn out to be some manifestation of a multiple personality disorder?  (I’m thinking “Sybil” the movie here.)

Yoga school starts tomorrow and lasts 7 months, with a little break in December for the holidays.  That’s a lot of time for self-exploration in my yoga lab.  What else will I discover about myself?