by Gautama Singh: The first step on the path of swan starts by recognising and then acccepting our current state – whatever this may be…
This will establish the starting point from which our journey will progress.
Our mind directs our life, and the state of our mind structures our life experiences. If the mind is well, all is well. If the mind becomes distressed, everything becomes unpleasant, starting with the body. Guaranteed success in all undertakings depends greatly on this one thing: mastering the mind.
The SWAN meditation – short for strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and needs – helps us to do just that. The technique allows us to develop a continuous awareness of the most influential factors of our lives. By practicing the SWAN technique, we learn to see things for what they truly are rather than what we desire them to be.
The first step on the path of SWAN starts by recognising and then accepting our current state – whatever this may be. This will establish the starting point from which our journey will progress.
We all possess attributes that make us stronger. These include virtues, talents and abilities. Strengths are qualities that give us confidence and help us believe in ourselves. They motivate us in a positive and constructive way throughout our life. By applying the SWAN technique, we discern not only our current strengths, but also our dormant strengths, which are just waiting to sprout. All you have must be identified, with honesty and humility.
Weaknesses are limitations. Anything which limits us from achieving our full potential is considered a weakness. These usually appear in the form of subtle self-created obstacles, which are hard to identify by the unaware mind. Examples of such weaknesses are procrastination, anger, being non-assertive, etc. Society trains us to hide our weaknesses and reinforce our strengths. But ignoring our weaknesses only potentiates them. We must turn weakness into strengths by focusing on them, finding their origin and working our way from there.
Our goals and desires are what motivate us to work hard every day. Our ambitions are the forces which drive us on the path of accomplishment, and keep us on said path despite of all fears and doubts. After all, our life is usually shaped around our ambitions. We use our strengths to conquer our ambitions. It is important to analyse the quality of our ambitions, not just those we are conscious off, but even our hidden desires. These are dreams we don’t even know we have, which lie in the deeper layers of the mind. Hidden desires are usually irrational; objectives which are most probably unattainable. These must still be identified and observed objectively. Once we are aware of all of our ambitions, it is important to ensure we prioritise our ambitions over our needs.
Our needs are our essentials. On a basic level, they are needs for survival – food, water, clothing and shelter. Once our survival is guaranteed, our needs become geared towards life satisfaction, which are different for each of us. Some are more inclined towards their career, others towards building a family and personal relationships, some need inner development and harmony. Generally, the needs are of six types: physical, mental, emotional, personal, social and spiritual.
DEVELOPING A BETTER VERSION OF OURSELVES
The SWAN meditation requires us to objectively observe the traits of our personality; the good and the bad with the aim of developing a better and more balanced version of ourselves. We must ask ourselves many questions.
What motivates and inspires us? What hinders and obstructs our progress and creativity? What do we need that will empower us and what do we need to let go of? The SWAN meditation results in a powerful transformation tool, which unites body, mind and soul. The method can be applied to general aspects of life or to a specific activity or problem area.
The SWAN meditation can be done lying down, seated or practiced in a meditation posture such as Siddhasana, Sukhasana etc.
Any type of writing is a freeing experience which releases our inhibitions and allows us to be more honest with ourselves. The results of the SWAN meditation should be written down for future reference. Use a single sheet of paper for each aspect of SWAN. Our strengths should appear on one page, weaknesses on another, and so on. Use more pieces of paper if you require them and be as detailed as possible. Questions we may wish to answer could be:
- Which strengths do I want to develop?
- Which Strengths have I inherited? Are they valuable to me?
- Are they really strengths or wishful thinking?
- Which strengths will help me master my ambitions?
- Which strengths will help me overpower my weaknesses?
- Which weaknesses can I turn into strengths?
- How can I look at my weaknesses in a positive light and accept them as such?
- Which ambitions are realistic and viable? Eliminate the unrealistic ones.
- What are the roots of your ambitions? Are they yours? Your family’s? Society’s?
- Which are my most passionate ambitions?
- Which are actually needs and not desires?
- Are they my needs or are they expectations from other people?
- How can I provide for my needs?
The first time –or first few times – we practice the SWAN meditation we start with a thorough self-analysis. After that, we can undertake a ten minute daily practice.
Every night, just before going to bed think about your strengths and weaknesses. Analyse your day’s actions and ask yourself: Did I follow through with my ambitions? Did I fulfil my needs? Did I use my strengths to benefit myself or others? Did my weaknesses hold me back from achieving my goals? Write down your answers.
The practice should be repeated daily for three months. Previous answers should not be looked at until the end of each month. The focus should remain on the happenings and feelings of the day, whatever they may be. At the end of each month, take a look at all the notes for the month and analyse your progress. Where did you excel? Which aspects must still be worked on?
After three months, the practice may be stopped. At this point you will be more aware of your surroundings and will observe your thoughts instinctively. Your view of yourself should change, allowing you to start seeing yourself in a more positive and accepting light.