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Shrink on the Mat – What is meant by the Self?

June 2, 2011
Q: What is meant by the Self?

A: This is no small question, and in many ways putting words to it will never do it justice! In many traditions the question “who am I” is asked in order to allow some kind of understanding of what the Self is. In yogic terms we could call Self one’s essence; through yoga and meditation practice we have the potential to come to understand that we are not the mind, not the body, but the Atma, the consciousness that lives on beyond our bodies and minds. Whilst emotions can fluctuate, bodies can age, minds can generate endless thoughts, the Self is that part of us that is eternal and unchanging.

It is said that the Self is not nothing; it is not space; it is more subtle than space.

I re-iterate that words cannot do justice to the experience that one has of the boundless aspects of our being which can be discovered through the various tools and techniques found in all forms of yoga, from pranayama, to asana, to meditation. It is reassuring to know that the Self can be discovered through our yoga practice, and that our experience on the yoga mat can open us up to that which is beyond the small self, or the personality. As my yoga Master Yogi Bhajan said “the inner self of the self, is sitting, waiting for you to realize that self”

Linda Kantor is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher and practitioner who has been in private practice for the past 15 years.
Have a question about yoga? Email Linda directly or
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