We recently discussed the concept of living your truth in our discussion Living Your Truth. As I shared the topic of “Who am I? has been arising a lot lately. It is a time when people are beginning to take a deeper look into themselves and wonder on a deeper level who they are apart from the roles that they play out, the career they have and the behaviors they engage in. This has topic arises a lot in my work with people with addictions as substances are often clouding the picture of who the soul is at it’s deepest level. Many people I have worked with over the years greatly struggle with making decisions, with knowing what they want or which way to turn. Most of the time this exhibits itself in non-action or stuckness whether the person is actively using or not. But as I have discussed in previous posts, addiction is just a microcosm of what is occurring in the larger culture. Many of us are struggling to live from our heart and therefore are covering up our unhappiness with a variety of short term quick fixes whether it be substances, consumerism, relationships, food, and the list can go on. The concept of who we are is a very Western idea. People spend lots of money, time, energy, hours in therapists office trying to seek out the answers to this question; all often to no avail. Quite often a person could spend many years in therapy trying to figure out the answer through analysis but never get anywhere. Why would that be? Aren’t we therapists trained in helping guide a person to find these answers within? Isn’t that the cornerstone of our work? Well I am going to suggest the reason why this may be true is that the answers often not necessarily logical or rational. For me, a lot of important frame around the picture came forth when I was in talk therapy but after a while it began to give me far to many explanations for things that happened and my own behaviors or personality traits but no real understanding of who I was at the soul. I began to feel like I was spinning my wheels with all these handy explanations that continued to keep me stuck in this cycle of explaining away how I felt or acted but never helping me get below that story. I felt like there was no hope for me to transcend the story and live from my soul. This all changed when I got deeper into yoga.
My first yoga teacher training was more along the lines of my years in therapy. It provided some helpful guidelines to how to understand and teach yoga but because it was taught by a psychologist who was interested in doing therapy with the trainees. It ended up being like another therapy that I didn’t sign up for. It wasn’t until I landed myself in acupuncture and then got into my second yoga training that this question and the beginning of it’s answers arose. At the onset of my second yoga teacher training we were asked to ponder and write about who we are a part from our story. I remember speaking to my acupuncturist about this with such a quizzical look on my face. Most of the personal work I had done was about that story and my whole career up to that point was about helping people understand who they are through the lens of their story. So how was I supposed to ever understand who I was without that framework given to me through therapy? Well sitting with that challenge was so enlightening and took me on a path that has brought me to where I am today. The place I began was that there was a fetus before the story. There was a soul before there was an incarnated fetus. There was a me before there was a we. There was also karma that I brought with me. The question of who that me was before it became part of the collective was what I began to wonder about. The path that this took me on has been so incredibly liberating. It continues to unfold as time moves forward. I have found out that the secret to who I am below the story is held within my breath and body. My soul knows what my rational mind does not. I am very good at spinning my wheels and analyzing something to death. My mind grips on and attaches to things for many hours/days/weeks after I have told others I am ready to let go. I can chalk that up to the story, to my willfulness, my anxious/nervous mind, my fear or just being human. But underneath all that chatter, my body knows what is true. I am a willful woman with a strong personality but speaking my truth through a middle path with compassion and love is not always easy. Generally I want to flee from conflict or bust my way through. Typically it’s the latter of the two. Recently I was able to speak my truth from a clean and clear place with compassion and love. This was not easy but the start of a new beginning for me.
Who am I? Well I am this body, this breath, this moment. I am a lot of things in this incarnation such as a woman, a creative soul, a wanderer, a nurturing friend and support to others, a seriously silly person who thrives on humor and laughter, a person who strives towards becoming healthier, a person who not only has survived a lot but has thrived, a yoga teacher, a social worker, a daughter, a granddaughter, a friend, a lover, and the list goes on. But underneath all of these labels and explanations, I am a soul. Who we are is no place out there, it is right here right now. There is no getting there because there is always changing right here. As I continue to see myself evolve and shift I am amazed at the different incarnations of myself that arise even in this current incarnation of my soul. I continue to shed layers of the onion (although I seriously hate that metaphor as I just want to get to the core of the onion:) Some of the recent changes I have begun to go through around speaking my truth has been about shedding old insecurities that I have hung on to. When I see things clearly for what they are, there is no blame or shame of myself or others. It’s the old saying…it just is what it is. By seeing it through these clear glasses I am able to liberate myself from the self inflicted pain with which my mind and fear has been assaulting me. There is freedom in coming into your truth. A strength arises and before you know it you have found out who you are just by being present here and now.
How might you begin to shift your path of self discovery into one that sends you back to your truth? The answers are within but not just in the analytical mind but more importantly in your body, breath, heart and soul. How might you choose freedom today from your thoughts? For today, I am going to take care of my body by exercising it. Exercise is a crucial piece of my self care that helps me get into the present moment and be with me.
I leave you with this beautiful poem by Rumi..
Say I am You
I am dust particles and sunlight.
I am the round sun.
To the bits of dust I say, Stay,
To the sun, Keep moving.
I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.
I am winding in the top of a grove,
and surfing on the cliff.
I am winding in the top of a grove,
and surfing on the cliff.
Mast, rutter, helmsman, and keel,
Iam also the coral reef they found her on.
I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.
The musical air coming through flute,
a spark of a stone, a flickering
in metal. Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.
I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,
and the falling away. What is,
and what isn’t, you who know
Jelauddin, You the one
in all, say who
I am, Say I am You.
Best wishes for a peaceful centered day!