If you really want to know the answer to the question, Who am I?, you might try the following meditation.
Start with taking time to feel your feet - barefoot on the ground if possible. Notice the different parts of your feet on the ground. Feel your butt on the ground or in your chair. Notice the air going in and out of your nose. Notice the muscles you're using to breathe in and out. Say the words In and Out, silently to yourself as you breathe in and out, or picture them as you breathe in and out. Once your mind is fairly quiet, see if you can continue to breathe and feel your your feet and feel your Self in your body. Or perhaps be open to some sense of something Eckart Tolle calls the inner body. Don't try to figure it out. You likely won't be able to understand this with your thinking brain. Just be available to the idea of the feeling of it as you breathe.
Once you settle into that quiet-mind zone, ask yourself, Who am I? And wait. Breathe. Wait some more. Just wait and breathe and feel your feet, as best you can. Feel free to re-ask this question as often as it feels right. Just be careful that it's not with an energy of trying to get the answer. Asking and waiting in quiet space is enough. Simply notice what happens inside.
I cannot tell you how long this will take, how many times you'll have to do this process, but if you really want to know the answer to this question, it will come. And it will more than likely come in the form of a feeling or a certain felt-experience of knowing. It can't be forced, it doesn't come cheap, and there are no shortcuts. However, the peace and knowing that comes can be life-changing.
If you'd like some help with it, please let me know.
Several weeks ago, I developed a floater in my left eye. I didn't think too much about it, but then I noticed a flash of light in the outer corner of my field of vision when I moved my eyes a certain way. An internet search scared me to death, as they often do, and I made a hasty appointment with an ophthalmologist, who squeezed me in as an emergency after hearing my symptoms, which of course compounded my fears. It turns out that I have a common condition as people age. It's not serious. And so I drove home from my appointment, so relieved and grateful that I swore to myself I'd never take my vision for granted, ever again. I'd be grateful every day. Well it lasted about a day and a half.
There are happiness gurus and law of attraction types, who say that you should make a practice of gratitude. And while I can attest to its effectiveness in shifting one's mood or perspective, sort of like positive thinking, there's something about this approach that feels a little outer-focused and ego-directed, and for me, temporary. It suggests that as long as I'm using my will and mental discipline to control, monitor, and direct my thoughts, I'm gonna feel OK. This strategy is popular in the psychology field and many popular therapy techniques are based on this premise. I however, think it's crap.
As long as you are counting on your little personal will and ego-driven, control-seeking thinking brain to make yourself feel happy, grateful, or OK, to override your physiology, to improve your emotional state, there will come a time when the circumstances of your life exceed your egoic mind's capacity to control your bodymind's emotional response. The thinking brain is limited in that way. That is why the combat veteran cannot positive-self-talk his way out of hitting the ground when he hears a car backfire.
So what does this have to do with gratitude and why is Shelly turning a perfectly lovely holiday intention into a problem?, you might ask.
It's because I want so much more for us than what our minds can conjure, because we are so much more than our minds and what our minds can know. Beyond my gratitude for the many blessings that my mind can rattle off, like a gratitude laundry list, lies the state of deep appreciation, wholeness, and all-is-wellness, that lies beneath, above, through, and on which all of my gratituding appears. It is this state that is always available to us. It's who we really are. And from that place, conditions don't have to be right in order for me to feel good, and I don't have to work at it if they're not. I'm like George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail!
That is my wish for me and my wish for you. Beyond I am grateful for___, beyond I am grateful, is I am. And friends, it just doesn't get any better, greater, or more abundant than that.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!