SAT CHI ANANDA - ENCOUNTERING THE SELF
We practice yoga to find union. But what does this UNION really mean? The aim of the yoga practice is to experience “Sat Chi Ananda” the bliss of the consciousness of the self. We go deeper to know who we are and realise that as we are we are complete, there is nothing to achieve, nothing to become. There is nowhere else to get to.
I want to take you into a journey of reflecting on the self. And challenge you on our knowing of yourself. Start by reflecting on this question: “Who are you?” and How do you reply to this question?
We tend to reply with characteristics, attributes, roles we have identified ourselves with. In your case, what are the characteristics, roles, attributes you have come to believe describe who you are?
I want you to challenge your own answers. Whatever you replied, have you always been that? Were you that 5, 10, 20 years ago? Were you that when you were 5yo? Will you be that in 10, 20, 30 years from now? If the answer is no… Is that really who you are?
When you were little before taking these roles and identities, were you still you? You were.
When you grow older and your roles, attributes and ways of living will change, will you still be you? You will.
Who is that YOU that you have always been and will always be? Beyond any attributes or roles you experience in your life?
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? We get attached to an identity, attributes or roles and we get to believe that is who we are. If this identity is questioned we try hard to defend it. We hold onto it as if our life depends on it. When we no longer play those roles we feel a sense of emptiness, a lack of purpose. If I no longer playing the role of a mother, a wife, a successful professional or whatever I identify myself with, am I still me? If those characteristics and set of ways suddenly change, is this "me" still the same "me"? How does it feel when my identities or my roles in life are questioned or threatened?
Contemplate this and you will easily realise that this identification with the ego, the false self creates unhappiness. Believing we are something we are not causes anxiety, stress, pain, and suffering. As we don’t know any better we hold onto this false self.
This identification with the false self or ego is like going to the movies and believing we are the character in the movie. We associate ourselves with the story of who we are that we have been repeating through our life. Getting attached to that story is like going to the movies and leaving from there still thinking that that story is real.
Think of the actors playing a role in a movie, when the movie ends they no longer behave or pretend to be the character. Imagine if they would do it. But we do so. We play these roles and we start thinking that is who we are and then we suffer whenever this "idea of me" is threatened.
How and why that association occurs? We tend to believe we are our body, our mind, our emotions. So whenever any of them is affected, we feel it strongly. But all of that is changing, all the three of them are experiences that observe and are aware of. If it is constantly changing and if I can observe it, then that can’t be me.
We can review one by one: The body changes al the time. Is your body the same body it was this morning, yesterday, 5 years ago, 10 years ago? Then it cannot be you as all that time you have always been YOU.
Secondly, the mind changes. Is your mind same as it was this morning? Does your mind have the same alertness and sharpness than 5 years ago? Is your mind the same mind you had when you were a kid. Naturally is not. But you have always been you. Then the mind can’t be you.
Exactly the same with your emotions, constantly changing, even more rapidly than body and mind.
Body, mind and emotions, all of them have the same characteristics: 1) changing 2) is we can observe them 3) we are aware of it.
What is the YOU that remains unchanged?
If we dig deeper, we can touch the truth and encounter the real self, eternal and unchanging. The one you really are, beyond any identity and roles. The one you have always been, the one you will always be.
You are The awareness, the observer of all your mental and physical activity. The same observer than 5, 10, 20 years ago. The same you that you already were when you were 5 or 10yo.
Can you close your eyes and experience being that same YOU, that was then?
Identification with the ego creates suffering. Realising the truth of the self removes that pain as allows you to experience the being as it is. The one you have always been and will always be, beyond any identities or roles.
This realisation of the self, the Atman is the aim of YOGA.
We need to renounce to the ego and all these identities. Bring to light all of the identities you have been identified with and drop them all. Negate them all. Practising Neti Neti “I am not this, I am not this”.
What is left is the real YOU.
Finding the self is not about becoming something or someone else. Is not about getting somewhere else. Is the opposite, is about realising who you are already, beyond all the covers. Is about getting rid of what's covering who we are.
What is covering who you are? What are the identities, labels you have been hiding behind, maybe to feel stronger, to feel bigger, safer?
What's the character you have been playing so far in this movie you keep playing in your head about who you are?
Ask yourself again “Who are you?”. Whatever you are tempted to associate yourself with, if is something that can be described then that something is exactly that, it can’t be you.
We find the self by stopping the identification with the body and the mind. Stop believing that is who you are. As long as I believe that is who I am, it will make unhappy. If I am experiencing an emotion or mental sensation that is unpleasant or a physical pain or disease, we need to learn to keep things were they belong. What is in the body stays in the body, what is in the mind stays in the mind. When I realise that I am not that, nothing can affect ME: The real me which is awareness, which is not the body nor the mind, but the awareness and experiencer of both of them.
Sat chi ananda. That is who you are. Nothing else.
If you are interested on knowing more or want to experience a class with meditating on the self, check out my classes in the Northern Beaches in Sydney.
And if you are looking for a good quality and eco friendly yoga mat or yoga towel for your practice, check out my designs HERE! The perfect mat for a yin yoga practice.