A Life-Changing Question: Who Am I?Aug 30, 2019
Years ago I was in a meditation workshop. At one point the teacher, Sally Kempton, who has since become one of my favorite meditation teachers, asked that we find a partner and face one another. OMG! I was immediately annoyed. That was way out of my comfort zone. I didn’t like looking people in the eye. I definitely didn’t like being vulnerable. In fact, I was about to get up and run. But for some reason I stayed.
Once we got settled we were asked to look into each others eyes. We were to hold our gaze continuously throughout the exercise while keeping our expression neutral but comfortable. OMG! This. was. so. hard. for. me. But somehow, I did it.
We each took a one-minute turn looking our partner directly in the eyes and slowly asking the question, ”Who AM I”. As the listener we were told not to offer any answers. Instead we were to simply be present, hold the gaze and keep our face neutral and calm. I went first.
Who AM I? I asked the question several times in that loooong minute. I can tell you there is a world of difference between explaining something and the experience of that something. I had a profound shift that day. Something changed. I can’t fully explain it in words. But through the action of being still and open and asking one simple question for one minute, I was different.
I SHIFTED. Not the world. Not anything outside of me. My state was altered and therefore everything looked and felt new. It’s the most important question I’ve ever asked myself. It quite literally changed the direction of my life.
Wayne Dyer said, “when you change the way you see things, the things you see change” Too often though we’re so busy trying to change all the things, we’re never getting to know who we are. We’re not aware that we are the main character in our own lives. We’re the ones creating the reality we experience every single day. But how many of us are taught this?
Instead we’ve been trained to identify ourselves only with what we have and what we do. But this limits us.
In the book of Psalms we’re told to “be still and know that I AM God”. How many of us ever do this? Do you? It wasn’t until that moment, with that stranger, that I genuinely committed myself to being still and asking Who AM I?
I love the expression “we are not all that God is, but God is all that we are”. In other words, God is vast and omnipresent, which means everywhere all at once. So whatever God is, we are too. We can’t not be.
I’ve since learned that the entire path of yoga and, frankly life, is guiding each of us toward this union with our True Self. The paradox though is that the we’re never really disconnected from who we are; it’s the perception of disconnection that creates our disturbances.
A spoonful of ocean water can be scooped up from the ocean and put in a jar, but it’s never not ocean water. The same is true for us. We can perceive ourselves to be our job, our body, our car, our relationships, our status, our home, and so on… but we are much more.
When we view ourselves just through the limited lens of what we have instead of who we are, we’ll always be longing for more.
Here is a simple practice
Sit still. State the following sentences one at a time, slowly and softly. If you’re willing, look directly into your own eyes by looking in a mirror. Repeat this 3-5 times.
Be still and know that I AM God
Be still and know that I AM
Be still and know
Then, sit quietly breathing naturally for 5 minutes. When you notice your mind wandering silently repeat I AM to bring your attention back to your breath and the stillness
It takes practice. When we practice we gain experience. If we only read about something, we only gain more information. I encourage you to take 10 minutes each day for the next 7 days to do this. I’d love to hear about our experience!