When I was quite young, I sometimes wondered who I really was. At the time, I didn’t have words to make sense of what I even meant by this. I was called “Katie” by those who knew me. But was this who I was, really? I was the daughter of 2 people called “Lydia and “Bill”, but did that make up who I was? I had a body I walked around in, that got me from one place to another. But my body certainly wasn’t all of who I was. I had developed likes and dislikes: I hated eggs but loved root beer Popsicles. I hated school but loved reading. But those things didn’t completely define me, either.
questions, organized around thoughts & feelings & sensations, scared
me. If I wasn’t these things, then who was I? Was I nothing at all? That
thought really scared me. I knew intuitively, that the adults around me
wouldn’t know the answers to all these questions. This concerned me, because
usually, adults had all the answers. And if they couldn’t answer this Big
Question, then I’d have to walk around with an uneasiness without getting any
resolution. I didn’t like that.
It was not
until I reached my 40’s that I realized the questions I had about having a
fixed self was called “self-inquiry”. I learned this from reading books on
eastern philosophy and some of my experiences meditating. When meditating, I
sometimes lost my usual sense of self. Gone was my hold on my identity with my
body and mind and all its expressions and projections. I understood that who I
was couldn’t ever really be pinned down, but that it didn’t vanish altogether,
either. This was a great revelation. It gave me a feeling of great peace and
does; when anxiety becomes overwhelming, being reminded of a vaster
consciousness softens my experience and makes it less frightening. Bringing space
to the anxiety begins to relax the knot of tension in my solar plexus, giving
the sensations there – room to move. From there, tenderness moves in. Staying
with spacious awareness allows the contracted body (in this case, what I’ve
labeled “anxiety”) to relax and feel held.
all this (which took some time), I really had to reflect on all that this
brought up for me. So, I asked myself this question: How do I apply this to my
daily life? How do I remind myself of vast awareness?
Letting that idea float in my mind, I put my pen down for a moment and decided to do some yoga. My back has been bothering me for a while, so when I started doing the poses, I paid close attention to those places that felt tense. Ah – I thought – contraction. Yoga places an emphasis on breath, so I breathed into those areas as I went from pose to pose. Breath… Yes – that’s a way to open the body/mind and create space to let those knotted areas have room to loosen up. After a while, some tension was released, and those constricted areas let go a little. When I ended the session in a relaxation pose, my attention was more able to take in the whole of my body, rather than just the painful part. Contraction leading to expansion.
How about you? Did this post open you up? How did it affect you? What can you do today to bring a bigger perspective into your life – for example, the pain you experience (whether physical or emotional), that’s happening right now? Experiment. And, if comfortable, let me know what happens.