Who Are You?

I haven’t written any new content in almost a month and I’d like to correct that today. I have been kept busy with college work but more relevantly, I’ve been reading a book, ‘The Untethered Soul‘ by Michael A. Singer. I have learned an awful lot from this book and today I’d like to share with you some of the ideas contained within. This book has changed my relationship with myself and the world around me for the better and I absolutely implore you all read it too. I promise that you will not be disappointed.

I want to start by asking you a simple question. Who are you? The majority of you will answer with your name. But that’s not who you are at all, that’s just a label you’ve been given so that people can address you. Who are you? You may go on to tell me a bit about yourself. You may tell me about your occupation, your hobbies, where you live, your childhood.. but that’s not who you are either. That’s just things that you’ve experienced or things that you do. Who are you? You might say, “Okay I am the voice in my head that experiences all of these things”. But that’s wrong again, you are not the voice in your head. You hear the voice in your head, you listen to the voice in your head, you observe the voice in your head. The very act of observing this voice makes it so that it cannot be you. You are not the voice in your head in much the same way that you are not the computer sitting in front of you (which you are also observing). There is a subject-object relationship where the voice in your head is the object. So that means you are the subject. “What is the subject then?”, I hear you ask. It’s the awareness, the consciousness. That’s you.

I am the one who sees. From back in here somewhere, I look out, and I am aware of the events, thoughts, and emotions that pass before me.

Okay, now that we know that we are the consciousness that experiences life we can start to look at the world in a different light. Imagine your mind as a blank canvas. Everything that goes on around you shows up on this canvas for you to observe. There is so much going on around us that it can’t all fit onto the canvas simultaneously, so things come and go. Imagine that as you walk down the street the shops along the roadside, the people walking past you, the footpath you walk on all pop up on this canvas in your mind. Let’s imagine that one particular thing grabs your attention, a woman walks past that resembles an ex-girlfriend you had years ago. You focus your attention on this woman on your canvas. Instead of coming onto the page briefly and leaving again to make room for more items, she slows down and eventually stops moving at all and grows in size taking up the entirety of the canvas. This only happens because you focus your attention, your consciousness on this object. You hold onto the thought, feeding it your attention which allows it to grow in your mind. All of a sudden you snap out of it and realize you’ve walked for 5 minutes without noticing the path in front of you. You were too busy focusing on the woman that looked like your ex and now you’ve gone and upset yourself. Oops!

By constantly reminding ourselves that we are not our thoughts or emotions, we can detach ourselves from them. You can’t learn this just by reading what I write here now. You have to put this into practise if you want to truly control your own happiness (and it can be done). The next time you feel yourself getting annoyed about something, I want you to take a step back mentally, become aware of the feeling rushing through your body and mind. You can really feel your body tense up as your mind denies the reality taking place around you. When you stop and become aware of the feeling, don’t concentrate your mind on it. Just feel it, let it pass and it will. If you focus your attention on it, you remove yourself from the seat of the Self. It is when we are removed from this seat of higher consciousness that we make poor decisions, think negatively about others or even say things we shouldn’t. You can’t stop reality from unfolding the way it does but your mind still tries to kick up a fuss about shit it can’t change, to put it bluntly. You can’t stop these thoughts from popping into your mind but you can decide not to humour them. When you remind yourself that you are the one who experiences your thoughts, you detach yourself from them and free yourself from the stress and anxiety associated with them.

I’d like to add here that this isn’t just the opinion of a bloke who wrote a book I liked. This is Zen. Being in the seat of the Self is the highest form of consciousness. Think about what happens when you watch TV. You focus all of your attention on what’s happening in the box sitting in front of you (unless you’re also scrolling through your newsfeed on your phone!). You can easily let 30 minutes go by without ever once being aware of the other sofa that’s sitting across from you. That is a narrowly focused consciousness. When the program ends, you instantly expand your consciousness back to the room in which you sit. It’s the same principle with becoming self-aware. You have to constantly remind yourself that you are focusing on something (we always are) and just by doing this, we become aware that we are the one who is aware.

For those of you who are still taking me seriously, I have some homework for you! Try it out. That’s it, just try it out. As you walk to college/work tomorrow, listen to the voice in your head narrating reality take place around you. Listen to the opinions it has about everything. Seriously, it doesn’t shut up does it? All I want you to do is remind yourself that you are the one who observes. When you realize that you are just the awareness of your thoughts and emotions, it is a lot easier to let them pass through you without disturbing your psyche.

3 thoughts on “Who Are You?”

  1. Wow Richard normally I would have thought this type if thing is a load of bs, but something happened today while on my way to an appointment. While in the hospital waiting area I read your blog, and it made perfect sense to me.
    I will do the homework you mentioned and let’s see what happens.

    1. This is what meditation is all about at the end of the day. Through meditation, you can train your mind to be less attached to your thoughts and feelings. Ultimately this leads to a happier life because you can more easily accept things as they are. You stop trying to resist negative emotions and just let them be. All of this is easier said than done. The mind can be viewed as a muscle and when you stop exercising a muscle, it reverts back to a previous state.

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

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