In yoga there 5 koshas - veils - that shroud us on this humanly plane:
1. Annamaya kosha - food
2. Pranamaya kosha - air
3. Manomaya kosha - the mind-stuff
4. Vijnanamaya kosha - wisdom
5. Anandamaya kosha - bliss
While all of these effects throughout our lives, Manomaya kosha probably affects us the most. This is the veil that shrouds our mind judgments. The mind can hold us in chains, but it can also set us free. That is why, in yoga, we practice self-awareness.
The hardest part about being yourself is self-doubt. People and things can be a constant reminder of past wrongs and the people we used to be. On those days like those, I come to my mat and I remind myself that we, human beings, judge other solely as we see ourselves.
Instead of taking commentary and criticism from people, I remind myself that this world is bigger than "me"and in knowing that I accept who I am, wholly and completely, that I am doing all I can and should.
Through the practice of self-awareness, we can begin to sift though the messes in our mind and see what is really out there. We can reflect, gain perspective, quiet the reactionary self that attacks instead of listens and shift our perspective to a more positive one.
Self-awareness is like anything else in this world, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. The next time you are in yoga class draw your mind to your breath and to yourself. Don't mind what's happening around you, stay on your mat and inside of your heart. Reflect on your intention, and the theme of the class - reflect on why you showed up on your mat that day, whatever the reason may be. And after savasana, when you have om'd our last om, take a moment with yourself. How you live life on your mat should be reflected in your life off of it.
Prayer is where we ask the questions, and meditation is where we receive the answers.
It all lies within the self.