When in the midsts of infertility, the act of self-study (svadhyaya) tends to go in one of two ways:
Completely cut yourself off from anything you’re feeling physically, mentally, or emotionally
Become obsessed with literally everything you feel or do.
Both of these have their own pitfalls and we’ve discussed these in previous blog posts:
Acceptance of Self Encourages Acceptance of Others
Infertility: The Absolute Obsession with Getting Pregnant
We can do this by finding a balance of svadhyaya while keeping in mind the other yamas and niyamas specifically ahimsa (non-violence), santosha (contentment), and isvara-pranidhana (surrender).
Oh you thought I was going to talk about those other three topics with self-study? Well, not quite. Approaching yourself from a lens of curiosity can help you release expectations, which is something you find when you practice santosha. And when you let go of, or don’t have any, expectations there’s an element of surrendering to what the future holds (isvara-pranidhana). So how can you be curious about yourself, something you know better than anything else?
Ask “What?” What am I feeling? What am I doing? What hurts? What feels good? What is my motivation? What is my end goal?
Ask “Why?” Why am I feeling this way? Why am I going through this process?
Ask “Where?” Where am I feeling this sensation? Where am I feeling this emotion? Where am I in this process? Where do I want to be in X days/weeks/years?
Ask “How?” How can I shift this feeling? How can I find support?
For some, physically writing the questions and journaling your answers will help you through the process. For others, you may just need to silently ask the question and wait, wait to see what bubbles up. It may not be your mom’s voice giving you the answer, it may come as a sensation, a feeling, an itching, or your intuition. No matter how you process these questions try not to force an answer, try not to over intellectualize what you’re experiencing. See if you can sit with the sensations, whatever comes up, even if it’s uncomfortable. For some, just asking the questions is the hard part. Pick one question and either use it as a mantra as you do some mindful movement or put it to paper. Go here for a few tips on how to start journaling.
Self-compassion comes with ahimsa, non-violence, and is a key ingredient to self-study. For some, this is a very difficult thing to do. Many of us live with self-doubt and negative self-talk as the loudest part of our streaming consciousness. If you’ve been living with these thoughts for 20, 30, or even 40 years, it’s not going to change overnight and it probably won’t change in the course of a year, but starting a mindfulness practice can shift the conversation. To start, notice when you hear the non-desired talk and bring it to your awareness. You can then address with curiosity by asking those questions above or move on. Eventually, the conversation will change, but it will take time.
Self-compassion doesn’t just apply to words/thoughts it also applies to actions. At Orchid Experience, we’ve written several articles on goal setting and many of them address how to get back on track if you’ve drifted away. This requires self-compassion. It’s ok to not hit a goal on time. It’s ok to not look like a supermodel. It’s ok to cheat on your diet once per week. And it’s ok to not get pregnant the “old fashioned way.” But noticing the events that lead to the path deviation, your reaction before and after, and what you learn is all part of svadhyaya, self-study.
Self-study is a lifelong process. The sooner you cultivate positive habits around svadhyaya, the healthier your learning process will be.