Take a deep breath and read these words:
That part of you that cannot be wet with water
Or blown by the wind
Or struck with a stick
Or burned by fire
Do they make you pause? Do you find yourself searching for an answer as if this were a riddle? Or perhaps, just for a moment, this “part of you” surfaces enough for you to feel it.
These words come from Sanskrit texts of Hindu philosophy and were shared with me at the start of a meditation teacher training I took part in several years ago. During this training, my teacher shared collections of “sutras” or aphorisms, typically presented in the form of a manual, leading with one important teaching, followed by commentaries that further illustrate the nuances of the first. In Sanksrit, the word sutra means “thread” – something to pull on, explore, unravel, unlearn.
One of the first threads my teacher shared with us was, “We are consciousness; a supreme, divine energy.” Now, I understand, your “woo-woo” alarm may be going off when you read those words but stay with me.The next part of the teaching, says, “Knowledge is bondage.” In simpler terms, this teaching tells us that we are complete and worthy; that external pursuits and pressures do not define us, and that our own perceptions keep us from experiencing the fullness of ourselves.
What is this knowledge that binds us? It is everything you know to be true about yourself, the world, and your place in it. Throughout our lives and experiences, we collect this knowledge, layer upon layer – building up our identities, our beliefs, our armor.
What is your armor made of? Your name, your job title, your role within your family, the car you drive and the home where you park it, your morning routine, your opinions, your salary, your perceived failures, your longings – we could go on. But as you consider these examples, do you feel your identifications piling upon you?
Armor gets heavy. Every now and then, or as often as you can, I hope you’ll stop to ask yourself; who or what is within me? Something bigger, something beautiful, something pure and sweet and healing. The part of you that has resided quietly within since you were a small child.
I’d like to offer you a meditation I learned to help you feel closer to that part of yourself. The focus of this mediation is “Neti-Neti,” a Sanskrit expression that means, “not this, not that.” This meditation asks the question, “What am I?” The aim of the practice is not to answer the question, but to experience what remains when you separate yourself from all of that knowledge for a moment. It’s a chiseling away of any heaviness you may find yourself carrying. You may feel resistance when you hear what feels like the rejection of a role that feels precious to you. Remember, we’re not making these things less valuable, we are just affirming that there is more to you than your stuff and your roles.
So, I invite you to join me in this brief meditation with an open mind and heart.