When we meet a new person, what is one of the first questions we ask? In my experience it is, “so, what do you do?” – This isn’t just because we have been conditioned to ask it, as we tend to identify with our career the most in modern society.
Imagine if when we met someone new we said, “hi, it’s lovely to meet you… so, who are you behind all of the things you identify with?” Ha ha! Ummmmm. How many people know the answer to that, or even ask themselves?
On the yoga path we are asking ourselves this regularly. Who am I? We are encouraged to peel away the layers of ourselves and uncover our essence. We practice peeling away the layers of our identity, like an onion, and just like when we peel an onion, tears might flow. Tears might flow as all sorts of emotions come up to the surface; let this process happen unhindered. This in itself is particularly healing, especially if you are a person that doesn’t usually allow yourself to cry.
There is a meditation, in which I invite students to do in The Kind Mind mindfulness workshops, where we learn to stop identifying with each aspect of our lives that we think make us who we are. This can be a difficult task for sure, but it is one of the most effective ways to let go of some of the pressures making you feel heavy so you can be free to live your life how you really want to. When we think, “I am a mother”, all that we do revolves around being a mother, but what happens when our children grow up and move on with their own lives, without the need for our constant assistance? We might fall apart, imagining that we no longer have a purpose and enter into a depression (this is common); or, we might even wonder who we are and become confused as to how to move on with life (again, common). So, if we begin peeling away the layers of who we think we are as we travel through each transitional moment in our lives, we can feel confident about who we really are and what our purpose is, no matter what life throws at us.
For me personally, yoga asana helps this process, but I also have to make sure I do the work mentally, each time I notice I am identifying with something. An example of this was when I had breast implants removed (which I will write an article on because it is worthy of it’s own lime light) and my friends were cautioning me to be careful, as they thought I might become depressed with the result (I was not having any further surgery to improve the result). I knew, without doubt, that I would be fine even though I had been wearing that body for ten years.
I no longer identified with having big round boobies, having started building my self worth through meditation, and I knew that no matter what I looked like after the surgery, I would be happy
… and I was right. When I awoke to find a pair of empty sacks of skin, a smile appeared on my face and I felt relieved. Alternatively, I could have worked toward being happy with my implants, still not identifying with them, but I knew they needed to go for health reasons and so chose to have them removed.
So, have a think about what you identify with – your job, status, appearance – and consider what would happen if you were to lose any of it. Would you truly be okay? It’s possible to be one of those inspirational people, who endure something tragic, yet they seem to be stronger and more humble than most but you have to do the work; diligently and consistently.
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