So often you hear that individuals are unsure of who they really are. “I’m looking for my true self”; “I’m not sure who I really am”, are phrases often heard by people searching for answers.
You hear of people journeying to other countries in order to find themselves on the slopes of the Himalayas or among the gurus of India. Most times they return supposedly better for the experience, probably somewhat poorer financially, but still asking themselves the same questions.
So let’s take a journey, firstly through meditation and secondly through a form of action to make the profound discovery about our true self. Who I really am!
Have you ever defragmented your hard drive on your PC? It is an interesting process and one over which you have no control other than to stop the process at any time. At the beginning you see vertical coloured lines spread out across a panel representing your files and folders sitting on your computer hard drive. At the completion of the process all the wayward lines have been gathered up like a dog rounding up the sheep in a paddock. Like files have been married together in a neat arrangement that enables a more efficient operation. It also allows you more effective space on your hard drive with which you can work.
If you have a retail or wholesale business it is easy for your stock control processes to develop errors and each year, or in some instances more regularly, you perform a stocktake. During this process you often find lost or misplaced items or even items supposedly held but missing completely.
After the stocktake is completed, the found items are returned to their proper location and the lost items are written off the records. It is then you will call in an independent auditor to look at the business and prepare you a list of recommendations that, if implemented, will assist you to run your business more efficiently.
So what has all this talk about a computer’s defrag. system and a company’s stocktake and audit processes got to do with our search for ‘who I really am’?
Our life’s experiences are like a collection of poetry. Some flow along in a simple rhyming format with a regular pattern like the wheels of a train rolling over the joins in a railway line. While we all know that verse doesn’t have to have a regular rhyming pattern to still be classified as poetry, then so it often is with our life’s experiences.
While ever we are alive, we can be said to be a survivor. During our life we have experienced highs and lows. We have achieved and we have failed. Throughout it all we have gained knowledge, understanding and wisdom. So often we say, if we only had our time over again, we wouldn’t have taken a particular course of action. However, we must accept that at the time that action was the one we took and it seemed to fit the circumstances that prevailed then.
It is often easier with hindsight to discover errors of judgement we have made in the past, but that is the past. It is not good to dwell on the mistakes of the past, rather we should concentrate on the present where we can learn from the past. This is where we gain in wisdom.
So, the canvas of our life contains our own poetry collection of experiences, both good and bad, both positive and negative, our achievements and our failures. This then is ‘what we are’.
Our brain must be a wonderful piece of bodily equipment. It is constantly being fed information to process and as long as we are alive it offers us the capacity to learn new things. It doesn’t need to be stopped and defragmented. It is constantly in stocktake mode allowing us the space to add new items and relate these to those already in our mental warehouse.
So how do we get to review our own personal life business? How do we send in an independent auditor to offer us recommendations as to how we can improve or even maintain what we are? Many of us don’t feel it is necessary to give ourselves this type of review as we seem content to just keep floating along, allowing our brain to do its job and just letting our individual life take its course. Going with the flow might be an appropriate phrase. But this can be where the confusion arises. If we become uncertain about our life and the path we are following, it is then we tend to question who we are and what our purpose is for being here.
Because life goes on around us and we are part of that living process, we have a tendency to leave these types of questions unanswered. We keep adding our life experiences to what we are and our personal collection of inner poetry broadens and expands. Sadly, for some of us, the questions still hover in the background and regularly prompt us to respond to their urgings.
This is why we often find people choosing to take time out from their normal daily activities to search for the answer to who they really are. It is my belief this answer can be sought from within each one of us in our present environment. We need to find a way to send in the independent auditor to access our personal operation, to examine the verses that make up our life’s book of poetry and to give us the recommendations that will allow us to find an answer to our unanswered questions.
So, who, or what, is our individual independent auditor? How can someone, other than ourselves, know enough about us to be capable of giving us the information we need to determine what guidance we should seek? If such a being exists then maybe we could ask ourselves why we haven’t been in touch before? The answer could well be that we have never given our inner auditor the opportunity. We have felt we can control our own destiny and we don’t want anyone or anything meddling in our personal affairs. To us our life is private and no one else’s business.
Yet throughout all this wondering we tend to overlook the fact that the auditor doesn’t make decisions for us. The auditor can only make recommendations. So perhaps we could still use the auditor’s service and yet still retain personal control. Under these circumstances maybe we could say to ourselves, ‘what have I got to lose’?
At this point, it would be good for us to consider our existence. No matter how we feel about ourselves, be it good, bad or indifferent, we are survivors. We might feel our life has been a complete disaster, that in everything we have attempted we have failed. We may only see negativity which causes us to be unhappy all, or most of the time. While this might be seen as an extreme, it serves to indicate why we might question who we are and why we are here on this earth. Yet we wake up each morning and among all the negativity there is still a will to live, even though in some this feeling may be somewhat weak.
So, what makes us keep living throughout all the pain and the trials and tribulations of life? It seems that deep within each one of us there exists some form of life force, an essence of our existence, a desire to cling to life, to survive. Call it what you like, but I refer to it as our own personal spirit. We often see this ‘spirit’ title used in different ways, particularly as an emotional force. Proud Australians refer to ‘The Spirit of our Nation’. The word is used to describe an attitude when someone is said to be in ‘high spirits’ they are happy and effervescent. Whereas in contrast, those said to be in low spirits can be sad and even miserable.
Could it be then that our spirit sits within each one of us fully aware of what we are and just waiting for an opportunity to be released from its incarceration? Is it just waiting for us to stop long enough to be provided with the opportunity of offering help and understanding? Could it be that our spirit is our independent internal auditor? So how could we find out? How do we access this ‘thing’ which doesn’t show up on x-rays, yet seems to have the capacity to help us decide our emotions and feelings towards both ourselves and others?
I wonder how deep within us we tend to corral our individual spirit. If we allowed it free reign, would we lose the control we have over our own decisions? Perhaps we might be frightened of the consequences of what we might find if we asked our spirit to perform an audit of our lives. But then on the other hand, how can we have our questions answered about who we are if we don’t at least review the recommendations of our spirit’s audit?
Meditation is one of the processes that can be used to find and release the spirit within us. Many experts have given advice on the correct method to be used in order to meditate. Without any prior experience in this ancient exercise many can find it difficult but, like most things in life, we can succeed if we put in some practice. Meditation is a very personal exercise and its effectiveness will vary with each individual.
Be at peace within yourself and for a few minutes determine to shut out all the distractions happening in your life at present. A quiet place is always beneficial. What you are attempting to achieve is to mentally remove all the sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts from your body and mind so you can allow your spirit the freedom to be at one with who you are.
Now, not everyone can expect to achieve a meditative state so I believe this shouldn’t hamper us from having answered the lingering questions concerning our identity. Meditation is a helpful process. Fine if you like or can adapt to that sort of exercise but not essential in your search for answers. However, if you were to meditate and allow your spirit to advise you as to how you could better understand yourself what do you think you would learn?
Like all good TV cooking presenters – ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’. The spirits reaction to the quest for me to discover ‘who I am’ will come as a surprise because the suggestion will invariably be that the answer can only come ‘outside’ rather than ‘inside ourselves’. This must seem an odd response after having gone through the so-called internal audit process. Another odd reaction would be that my spirit may want me to identify the gifts I have been given that I could use to help others.
At this point you could rightly feel a little frustrated, for haven’t we all got enough problems in our lives without having to get involved in others as well? “Not so”, says our spirit, because this can be part of the ‘reason’ we can’t have our questions answered. It seems that we might be concentrating our energies just on our self and our mind will remain closed to the broader picture of who we really are unless we can lesson the influence of “I” in our lives.
So, what are these so-called gifts I have supposedly been given? Irrespective of how many times we might have failed in trying to achieve, there will always be aspects of what we can do that we do well. Let’s face it, none of us are perfect and while many may claim to be an expert in a particular field, there is always more we can learn. So, all this can easily leave us wondering what can I do that might be a help to somebody else?
It doesn’t matter really. You might enjoy sewing or you might be a good listener. You might have administrative skills or be good at fixing things. Somewhere in amongst the ‘what we are’ collection will be something we are capable of sharing with, or for, others. Mother Theresa of Calcutta got it right with her popular saying “Each day we should do something for somebody else”.
We might wonder to ourselves how does this address my questions and my search? Well the interesting thing about what is being asked of us here is that in doing something for somebody else we must do it without expecting any reward. Now that has to be the hard part because in many cases it could have cost me serious money to attain the qualifications and skills I possess so my expectations are that I deserve to be paid. Why should I not increase my wealth by using the ‘gifts’ I possess?
Ah, yes! But there we go again, bringing in the “I” factor. When we offer ourselves, our skills or our gifts to help others in need we only provide the best we can offer, irrespective of how much or how little we give. We certainly don’t deliberately give out bad advice or incorrect information if we are offering to help.
We have all heard of the phrase from the Good Book that says we should love one another. Yet the word ‘love’ seems to have been given some broad interpretations and it is easy for some to get confused when using the word. While some might disagree, I believe ‘love’ is a decision we make and not just a feeling we experience. We have to consciously make a decision to love someone whereas, if love was just a feeling, we could find we vary in our feelings just as we might feel hot one day and cold the next.
If we were to make a conscious decision to help someone without expecting a return, then this is, in reality, a form of offering them love. The more help we are prepared to give away, the more love we give away. In this way our love becomes an unconditional love. So, it then seems right for us to question ourselves about just from where this so-called love is emanating. It can only be coming from within us.
In dispensing our help, we are using our skills or our gifts that have developed from that part of us labelled ‘what we are’ so it stands to reason the ‘love’ component can only be coming from our individual spirit. Our spirit is our light shining in someone else’s darkness. It is that part of us we are freely giving away. Truly then our spirit is ‘love’.
As we deliberately choose to give away more of ourselves and our love to help others, we will find the need to seek out the answers to ‘who I am’ will become blatantly obvious. Not only will the need to have the questions answered fade, but we will come to the realisation that we all carry around with us a spirit of love regardless of how good or bad we might be seen to be. Our spirit will start to recognise the spirit in others and then we will know ‘who I am’ because underneath it all, ‘I am love’!
Love isn’t an ego trip through life – it is an unconditional conscious journey.
It is good to remember the words of Oscar Hammerstein IV:
“Love wasn’t placed in our hearts to stay.
Love isn’t love ‘till you give it away”.
I’m Peter Mack and that’s how I feel.