Have you ever felt lost? Or that you just don’t quite know WHO YOU ARE? Well you are not alone. We all go through some level of disillusion about our true identity at times. If I was to ask you when you were 5 years old “Who are you?” no doubt there would be a very different response than when you were 15, 25 and then 45 years old.
So who are you? Let’s explore from a purely subjective viewpoint and one that’s always open to discussion.
There are the outer layers of who you are, which keep getting added to as years go by. Think of them like cloaks that get put on top one after another. Each cloak has a different look and feel to it just as each life experience adds different layers. Each layer adds another level of complexity to our identity as they all start to blend in on top of each other. What defines the nature of these layers is the experiences that we have through life. Where you were born, the religious upbringing, the way you were treated by your parents, the school you went to, the daily experiences you had, some light and fun, while others potentially dark and harrowing.
In Sanskrit these experiences leave an affect on us called samscaras. These samscaras are like ’scars’ that are an effect etched into us that influences our current experience in life. So when some was to ask you “Who are you?” in effect you’d be the sum of all your past life experiences. Welcome to your egoic identity. This is the ‘I’. Who we perceive ourselves to be is the story that we’ve constructed around us throughout our lifetime.
So who are we if we shed those cloaks? If we were to peel back those layers what would we discover? Who are we without that story?
Deep within us, right back underneath all those layers, is a Soul. What is a soul? It is the aspect of us that is completely uninfluenced by our life experiences. It was there before the life experiences were even experienced. It is the ‘I’ without the egoic layers. It is the Source, it is Light, it is Love. It is the part of us that is non-changing and always a constant. It is subtle and due to the thick layers that we have accumulated over time, it becomes very hard to experience, yet it’s always there.
The Soul is pure; it isn’t influenced by any life experiences. Think of a lamp that is pure and bright. Then add over the top of that lamp a thin coloured scarf. The scarf will impede the purity of the radiance glowing from the Source of Light. The scarf will dim it somewhat. Then add more layers and more layers and eventually the full radiance of the light will be impeded completely. Eventually we are only able to recognise the thick layers as our identity because our original pure identity, the one without the stories, has become smothered.
So how do we re-connect to our Soul if it is always there? We start to peel back those layers. One by one, strip them back, letting go of the old stories and attachments. This can be a painful process as we feel we are letting go of who we are. Each layer that is peeled back and released can leave us feeling vulnerable, raw, and naked. “If I’m not that layer, and I remove it, then who am I??”
This process can take many years. Even to this day I find I am peeling back layers as more egoic identities are being shed. Each thick layer that’s removed takes me through a dark mourning experience as another false identity of me is let go of. However with that letting go, what follows the darkness is a clearer realisation about who I am without the layer. More of the inner light is revealed and we can get glimpses of our True nature within.
Shedding these layers can be done through numerous pathways. There are plant-based medicines, energetic healing sessions, therapy, psychology, yoga, breath work, detox retreats and meditation among many other modalities. Finding the one or numerous pathways that suits you is up to each individual.
St John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic in the 1500’s, wrote a book on this expulsion of layers to discover the Light within and how painful this process can be. The book was called The Dark Night Of the Soul and in one line he wrote:
“In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds.” For St John, meditation was the process he chose to use to reveal the inner light.
We just finished a 6-day retreat in Bali where we used a number of modalities to carry out this shedding process. There was yoga, meditation, breath work, cleansing food, massages and workshops that are all formulated to enable this ‘letting go’ of our outer layers. Part of this process saw emotional releasing as sadness, fear, anger was purged from the body. The attendees felt lighter, clearer and more love within them as part of connecting deeper to their Source, the Love within.
What a fascinating journey this is. We start out adding layer upon layer, then as the pain of the disconnect from our original Source, our Light, inspires us to initiate a process of rediscovering that, we begin the return leg of the journey, to then start peeling back those layers. From Soul to Ego, then Ego to Soul. Enjoy the ride!
If you are feeling like you need a break from the busy-ness of life, then you might like to explore our various retreat options. We have 1 day retreats, 4 day retreats and 6 day retreats to choose from. These retreats will leave you feeling revitalised, uplifted and clear on your goals in life. Find out more by clicking here.