Have you ever felt lost? Or you just don’t quite know WHO YOU ARE?
Well you are not alone. We all experience some level of disillusionment about our true identity from time to time.
If I asked you when you were five years old, “Who are you?” There would undoubtedly be a very different response than when you were 15, 25, and 45 years old.
So, who exactly are you?
Let’s look at it from a purely subjective and always open to debate point of view.
There are the outer layers of who you are, which keep getting added to as years go by. Consider them to be cloaks that are layered on top of one another. Each cloak has a different look and feel to it just as each life experience adds different layers. Each layer adds another level of complexity to our identity as they all start to blend in on top of each other. What defines the nature of these layers is the experiences that we have through life. Where you were born, the religious upbringing, the way you were treated by your parents, the school you went to, the daily experiences you had, some light and fun, while others potentially dark and harrowing.
In Sanskrit these experiences leave an effect on us called samskaras. These samskaras are like ’scars’ that are an effect etched into us that influences our current experience in life. So when some were to ask you “Who are you?” in effect you’d be the sum of all your past life experiences.
Welcome to your egoic identity. This is the letter ‘I.’
Who we think we are is the result of the stories we’ve formed around ourselves over the course of our lives.
So who are we if we shed those cloaks? If we were to peel back those layers what would we discover? Who are we without that story?
Deep within us, right underneath all those layers, is a Soul. What is a soul? It is the aspect of us that is completely uninfluenced by our life experiences. It was there before the life experiences were even experienced.
It is the ‘I’ without the egoic layers. It is the Source, it is Light, it is Love. It is the part of us that is non-changing and always a constant. It’s subtle, and because of the thick layers we’ve accumulated over time, it’s difficult to perceive, but it’s always present.
The Soul is pure; it isn’t influenced by any life experiences. Think of a lamp that is pure and bright. Then add over the top of that lamp a thin coloured scarf. The scarf will impede the purity of the radiance glowing from the Source of Light. The scarf will dim it somewhat. Then add more layers and more layers and eventually, the full radiance of the light will be impeded completely. Eventually, we are only able to recognise the thick layers as our identity because our original pure identity, the one without the stories, has become smothered.
So how do we re-connect to our Soul if it is always there? We start to peel back those layers. One by one, strip them back, letting go of the old stories and attachments. This can be a painful process as we feel we are letting go of who we are. Each layer that is peeled back and released can leave us feeling vulnerable, raw, and naked. “If I’m not that layer, and I remove it, then who am I??”
This process can take many years. Even to this day I find I am peeling back layers as more egoic identities are being shed. Each thick layer that’s removed takes me through a dark mourning experience as another false identity of me is let go of. However with that letting go, what follows the darkness is a clearer realisation about who I am without the layer. More of the inner light is revealed and we can get glimpses of our true nature within.
There are a variety of ways to shed these layers. Plant-based medicines, energetic healing sessions, therapy, psychology, yoga, breathwork, detox retreats, and meditation are just a few of the many modalities available. It is up to each individual to find the one or more paths that work best for them.
St John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic in the 1500’s, wrote a book on this expulsion of layers to discover the Light within and how painful this process can be. The book was called The Dark Night Of the Soul and in one line he wrote:
“In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds.”
For St John, meditation was the process he chose to use to reveal the inner light.
If you agree with St. John about meditation, you might want to try our Meditation Retreats. These meditation retreats are energising experiences that use an ancient sequence of yoga, breathwork, and meditation to improve your mind and body.