Many believe that finding yourself means compiling a profile of your passions, interests, talents, skills, personality traits, style, appearance, opinions, history, memories, plans for the future, etc.
There is nothing wrong with this, but this is your transitory identity as it can change at any time. This type of “self” is defined by the mind and is often influenced by family, society, and culture, for better or worse. It can be a source for unhappiness and suffering, and it can block your true potential, which likely goes well beyond this transitory identity.
There is a simple exercise that you can do right now that will show you very directly who and what you truly are – your true nature. Seeing your true nature and allowing it to take over as your seat of experience is the way to realizing your full potential. It gives you the foundation and clarity to be emotionally balanced for taking the best possible action, while being inclusive of your purest passions, interests talents, skills, etc.
Find Your True Self In 3 Steps
The exercise is sort of a thought experiment with some actual experience involved. It may be underwhelming at first, but it’s actually the key to more beauty and happiness than you may have ever imagined possible. It reveals through experience the little known common denominator of so many ancient and modern philosophies, religions, and psychological approaches.
Find a quiet spot and take a few minutes to try the following process, and then read on to see how it can impact your life so positively.
Imagine that you cannot see. There is nothing in your field of vision. It can help to imagine complete darkness, the absence of light, blackness, but ultimately it’s absolutely nothing.
While you’re imagining not being able to see anything, imagine that that you cannot hear. There is no sound.
Now also imagine that you cannot taste or smell anything. This may be a little easier than the first two. If you’re not eating or brushing teeth you may usually have a slight bitterness in your mouth, but it is often unnoticed, so pretend there is no taste there. Scents passing by your nose are probably even less common, so it should be easy to imagine having no sense of smell.
So, you have now turned off four of your five senses all at once: seeing, hearing, tasting and smelling – all gone.
Now let’s also turn off touch and feeling. You may or may not be aware of the many body sensations that are constantly happening in you. Sensations on the skin related to pressure and temperature. Sensations inside related to digestion, muscles, organs. Sensations related to emotions, both uncomfortable and comfortable feelings. There are lots of sensations going on in your body right now. Imagine that they aren’t there. It’s as if you’re completely numb to these body sensations.
At this point all of your senses are gone. What is left? If you have no senses, what is left? Think about it.
The previous sentence is the answer. Thought is left. You can still think even with all of your senses gone.
So now you’re in this world without any senses, but you just have your thoughts. However, is that the only thing left? If so, how do you know that your thoughts are still there? What is sensing your thoughts?
It’s as if you can hear them, but there is no sound, so your ears aren’t sensing them. While you might be able to imagine an image in your thought, there is no light coming through anything. There is no actual taste or smell with your thoughts. There is no temperature, physical pressure or feeling of your thoughts. Your thoughts aren’t sensing themselves. So what is sensing them?
Isn’t there something else that is present, sensing your thoughts? What is that presence that is aware of the thoughts you have?
The easiest answer may be to say that it is awareness. That’s a perfectly acceptable answer. That awareness is aware of your thoughts and all of the sensations that came through the five senses we just removed. Now, let’s try one more thing.
You should still be in a place where you have dropped all five of your senses, and now just thoughts and awareness are there. If you drop awareness, obviously there will be no thoughts, so we can’t really do anything with that. Instead, try dropping the thoughts.
The simple answer is awareness, right?
Yes, that’s right, but don’t think about that. Instead, feel that answer for a little while. Directly experience what you call your awareness.
After you dropped all of your senses and thoughts, you’re now left here with awareness alone – with nothingness around it. That’s it. Feel it. Really allow yourself to feel it, sense it, and experience it.
What is aware of that awareness?
Awareness is aware of itself.
What does that awareness feel like? Does it feel like anything else you know of in the world? Does it feel completely unique? Does it feel like your actual existence itself? The feeling of “I am” or “I exist”? Does it feel like a presence that is observing non-judgmentally, yet perhaps lovingly?
The more you sit with it, as the seat of your perception, the more your experience of it grows within you as it naturally overtakes the impediments that keep you from experiencing it fully.
This “conscious presence”, your awareness, has been there in every moment you have experienced throughout your entire life. It hasn’t budged. It has been there all along, observing patiently, lovingly, non-judgmentally, confidently and with full acceptance no matter what was happening to you or within you.
This is the powerful key to open up so many aspects of your life.
Why Is This Not Well Known?
You might ask why something so simple, yet described as so powerful is not well known. It is because it is so easy to miss or dismiss, and it’s very easy to block with everyday life, emotion, and habitual thoughts.
Very few philosophies and religions talk about it directly or teach you practical ways to access it, but just about all of them refer to it in different ways.
Approaches for psychological improvement usually unknowingly dance around the surface of it by trying to help you navigate through your emotional and psychological issues that block your ability to reside as this awareness consistently in your experience.
If you’ve ever meditated, you may have experienced it, but you may not really have thought much of it. You also may have experienced it if you have been involved in a shocking traumatic event.
For example, long before I realized this for myself, I experienced it during my wife’s very complicated c-section when I thought I was going to lose her and the baby. I felt like a ghost, as if the wind could pass right through me. Everything seemed like a scripted act playing out and I was just an observer without any control at all. A similar experience is described by many people that have near death experiences. In times of shocking trauma, any identity that you have created for yourself with your mind falls away and you realize the pure awareness that is your natural state.
How Awareness Helps You Realize Your True Self
The awareness that watches all of your thoughts, emotions, and everything in your experience is your primary experience of existence. The exercise above helps you get a glimpse of it.
However, it is always accessible, and as you get in touch with it more frequently it begins to take the forefront of your experience.
As it takes the forefront of your experience, thoughts, beliefs, activities, and people in your life that trigger unnecessary and misaligned emotions and block it from being in the forefront begin to fall away. Those that are supportive or allowing of it will remain as long as they can, but they are also subject to change as they were before this shift in your reality.
This shift allows your true self to operate without the distraction or clouding that happens when you are governed solely by your mind. You operate with much more clarity, as constantly competing thoughts and beliefs are no longer driving decision making.
As you connect with and let this awareness embody your experience, you will see that it is a source of intelligence before thought. Thoughts seem to arise from it, but you can take action without the thought. Think about your natural instincts and observe many of your behaviors throughout your day. Do you always need to think a thought in order to do something?
When you do something without thought, it is coming from the most grounded place in your experience. This doesn’t mean you can’t do things by thinking, but there is a difference in action from thought that comes from your true self and thought that is distorted by unfounded beliefs.
Your actions through awareness and through thoughts born of awareness and used as a tool will become effortless. You will feel aligned, whole and at one with your actions. You will experience yourself naturally in and as the truth of reality.
It may seem too simple and unrealistic, and I am not asking you to believe me. You must experience it to know it is true. It can’t be understood as truth conceptually. When you experience it, you will see. At that point, you decide what to call it. You decide whether or not you think it is divine. It certainly doesn’t have to be considered to be divine, but if you think it is divine, you decide how that reconciles with any religion or philosophy you may have. Once you experience it fully, it’s not hard to make the connections.
Is there any harm in experiencing what sits behind all of your thoughts, emotions, and sensations? Is there any harm in fully experiencing what has been within you your entire life? If not, then why not give it a try occasionally? Why not notice it in your daily experience, and just be with it without expectation or desire for anything to come of it? Try this for awhile and see what happens.
To learn more about approaches and benefits of allowing your awareness – your true self – to embody you, check out How To Find Inner Peace & Boundless Potential. Feel free to comment below with any questions.