You’ve probably heard about the common benefits of meditation, like gaining clarity, reducing stress, or calming an agitated mind. But throughout history, spiritual practitioners, both East and West, have also practiced meditation for another reason: awakening to one’s deepest sense of self.
Your Deepest Sense of Self
You don’t have to be a yogi tucked away in a Himalayan cave to explore these deeper dimensions of meditation. If you’re interested in peeling back the layers of your more superficial personality to discover a depth of self you may not have realized you even had, then it just takes a bit of effort and intention. And the results, if you succeed, usually go far beyond simple stress reduction. In fact, true spiritual knowledge tends to bring with it an awareness of boundless freedom, a deep sense of self-confidence, and a mysterious, spontaneous joy that comes bubbling up from within.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, let me share with you one of the most effective ways to get there.
Who Am I?
The great 20th-century sage Sri Ramana Maharshi called his favorite method of meditative deep-diving “Self Inquiry.” This method basically involves sitting still and quietly asking yourself, over and over again, Who am I?, peeling back increasingly subtle layers of the self as you dig deeper. And it goes something like this:
I have a name, but I am not my name. Who am I?
I have a body, but I am not my body. Who am I?
I have relationships, but I am not those relationships. Who am I?
I have vivid memories of the past, but I am not those memories. Who am I?
I have compelling hopes and dreams for the future, but I am not those thoughts. Who am I?
I feel happiness and sadness, excitement and fear, love and anger, but I am not those feelings. Who am I?
When everything that I think I am falls away, what remains? Who am I?
By dis-identifying from your body, thoughts, and feelings in this way, you’ll eventually come to rest as pure Awareness itself, wide open and empty as the sky–the silent, inner Witness of your life, and of the world. Could there be any deeper essence to your own self than pure Awareness?
If you’re not yet convinced, just keep asking and exploring: Who am I?