How well do you know yourself?
I have always studied people and myself, abundantly curious about the human condition. In the process, I have encountered multiple personality analysis philosophies. All of these have helped with self-knowledge, for me and millions of others. But do they help with self-awareness, and what’s the difference?
To put it simply, I believe self-knowledge is what we learn about ourselves, and self-awareness is seeing these things as they are happening and knowing how to apply what we’ve learned, mostly in our relationships, but also with work and play. How does yoga fit in? Keep reading. . .
Take astrology, for example. I’ve studied it quite a bit (enough to know there is so much I don’t know!) and have found it to be amazingly accurate. When you get into more than just your Sun Sign, it really gets juicy. I’m a Virgo, with Virgo rising and moon in Aquarius. Double whammy Virgo, yes. If you’d like to find out about your astrological chart, you can do so for free, and it’s also great to go to an expert!
I’m partial to the lunar nodes, specifically the North Node which has to do with destiny and where you are headed in life. To find your North Node, you need only your birth date. You may learn more on-line here. There’s also a great book called Astrology for the Soul, which I’ve loaned and given to dozens of people and they’ve all been amazed at the depth and truth the North Node provides. For me, it is through that which I’ve been most able to take what I’ve learned and put to use in my every day life. Another option is Vedic Astrology, which is quite different than the type about which we’re used to hearing, and also interesting.
Another modality is the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is often used in businesses to help guide an employee into a position and with the right group of people, to foster the most productivity and personal satisfaction. This is based off of Jungian philosophy and the belief that we are born with certain personality traits. It’s fascinating! You can take the test, and read more about it by clicking the link.
One of my favorites, is the Enneagram. I can’t get enough of this stuff! I read about The Wisdom of the Enneagram and listen to Enneagram-based podcasts. I’ve learned so much about the WHY I am the way I am (a 7). It’s really helped me to understand other people with whom I’m in relationship, and communicate with them better. It’s also fun trying to identify peoples’ number (1-9). This system is based more on nurture than nature, our childhood and what influenced us growing up. You can take a free test. A word of advice: when you take the test, be BRUTALLY honest and use the perspective of who you were when you were a young adult, maybe 18 or so. It’s very tempting to answer these fun questions from the view of how you see yourself NOW. Release this temptation if you want an accurate assessment. The Enneagram gets really complex, with wings and triads and such, so, take it one step at a time.
There’s a fun website called Personality Junkie, which has a blog about the differences and similarities of Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram, and which one might appeal to whom. The author has also written an interesting e-book, delving even deeper into the concepts, called 16 Personalities. Test included.
I’ve also read and used The Color Code, especially when I want to figure out pretty quickly whom I’m dealing with in business matters.
These are a few of many possible paths to self-knowledge. I wanted to share some sources so you can easily find them if you’re interested. They are all good and include a LOT of information.
Once you’ve tested and read and listened and learned, then what? For those of us who are curiosity-driven, we can get easily caught up in the research and gathering of information, all that stuff that goes into our heads. That’s where yoga comes in! Over and over it has been my yoga practice which takes me out of my head and into my body.
The attention paid to how we feel when we do yoga, what our bodies tell us, magnifies awareness. Yoga has a beautiful way of calming the rough waters, the ever-chattering monkey mind, and the anxiety that can accompany having information overload. Focus on breath, mantra, a single object on which to gaze; all of these elements help balance our brainwaves so that we CAN feel our bodies. Once we are in that place, we can then connect with a deeper awareness of ourselves, our spirits.
From that place of awareness, we can then take our knowledge out into the world from a more heartfelt place. We can apply what we learn about ourselves and others without being so analytical and mind-centered. I believe yoga helps us assimilate the knowledge in our minds, the results of our physical activities and postures, and the connection we cultivate with ourselves and the universe.
As much as I am a student of Life and the human condition, personality typing and classifications, I am a student of yoga. Without the self-awareness, all that knowledge is just that, an accumulation of information. With yoga, I am taken to my heart. I don’t always succeed, but operating from that place is my forever goal.
If you know which sign, numbers, or color YOU are on any of the systems I’ve mentioned here, or if you take a test and find out, I’d love to hear about your results!