I am going out on a limb and becoming very open about my reality right now. Knowing that some people in or out of my life might read this and be surprised. I am not the person they think I am, I am not real....
Who am I? This is a very common yogic practice. The practice of self inquiry. One might sit in meditation for 10 or 15 minutes and then pose the question. Basically what happens is one will discover all the things that they are - for example, wife, mother, teacher, funny, calm, quiet, educated, etc... But really these things are more about what you are and less about who you are. More importantly these are fundamentally who you are not. It is a bit of a confusing thing isn't it? We all have these imposed labels on ourselves as to who or what we are. Some of these labels make us feel important or make other people think we are important. Really though we are all just oxygen, water and cells. We are light, we are love, we are a higher power. So in doing this self inquiry you can get to the root of who you are. You can delve further and ask yourself if you like and are happy with the what's. In practicing non-attachment to these labels you can affect change in the what to better reflect the who.
As part of a course I am taking we were asked to do the "who am I" practice for a week. Ironically this practice fell on me while I was leaving for a trip and continued while I was away. I felt easy about the practice as I had done it before. The deep who am I's seemed easy for me to digest. I noticed my body, my breath and my mind during the mindful responses to my repeated question. Answering to myself that; I am love, I am light, I am consciousness, I am nature, I am the breath - all seemed very easy to me. I believed them. I breathed easy and my body was calm and relaxed.
When I got down to the who am I's again and looked more at the what's and less the who's. My body and breath reacted differently. Things like I am a teacher, I am a yogi, I am a woman - were fine. It was the big one's that made me tense, I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a nurturer, I am a house keeper, I am a cook, I am, I am, I am. When it came down to the big things I realized by listening to the breath and the body, that I am unhappy.
The funny thing happens to some people when they come across a breakthrough in self inquiry. They either realize that they are happy and move forward or they discover the source of their unhappiness. For me I discovered I was unhappy and knew some of the source of my unhappiness. What I did next seemed uncharacteristic of me. I cried. I let the tears flow and I cried. I cried alone in my bungalow in Thailand, I cried alone at night on the beach, I cried in an airport of all places. I am still crying. Now I am crying and tired. Where is this yogic happiness I keep reading about.
I have heard before that tears help to heal. That the salt will wash away all wounds and you will come out of the ocean feeling better. Well I'm waiting. Until then I am changing some things in my life. I am turning to yoga again and again. It has always been there for me and will continue to be. At first I thought I was using my yoga practice as an escape. Many people do this. Now I think it is more of a tool. I am finding myself more and more in practice and in mediation. Right now it seems to be the only thing that truly makes me happy. I find that joy on the mat. Meditation is a different story, I am finding solutions in meditation and am coming out creative, tear stained and tired.
I will continue this process and will probably add other methods but I will again return to the who am I, and the what am I. I learn so much about myself and this is where change begins. Change is uncomfortable but this is how we learn about ourselves and this is how we grow, usually for the better.
People I know have commented over the years that I am one of the happiest people that they know. I am always smiling. Quick with a joke. Living and loving life. Maybe on the outside this was true. Now that I know what the inside is feeling and saying I can't ignore it. I know that happy person will come back to me. She is truly who I am. She needs to dig up the unhappy stuff, clear it out to be truly happy again. It will take some hard work and dedication but I will find her and happiness - where ever they have gone.
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.