Letting Go of Old Identities
“In order to be who you are, you must be willing to let go of who you think you are.”
― Michael A. Singe, The Untethered Soul.
When I was younger, I love being asked " Who are you?" " What do you do?"
I would proudly say: " I am an interior designer". " I am a meditator". " I am a long distance runner".... many of the very cool titles that make me feel so proud.
Now, if you ask me Who am I?
It would take me sometime to think and answer. I do the work that I am passionate about right now. But I know I am more than just that. I run and do yoga most days. And my identity doesn't need to tie to that. I love my partner. And I know my identity doesn't tie to our relationship
If you look up "How to answer "Who am I" question" on google, it would come up with a lot of interesting stuff, lots of debates and opinions. Apparently, it is a tough question to answer. Though there is something in common from those opinions. We know what we are not! In Isha Kriya practice, there is this beautiful chant " I am not the body, I am not the mind."
So, the question becomes " Why we know what we are not, but we keep holding on to these identities and suffer when we lose them or have to change them?"
In my early 20s, for the first time in my life, I became a new person with a new identity of a nun. I joined Sri Chinmoy spiritual path and became his disciple. It means that I get to meditate a lot on his transcendental picture, and meditate with the other older disciples who had been meditating for over twenty or thirty years on this path.The other rules are to become a vegetarian and to practice celibacy. I was actually no hesitant to any of that, especially to let go of the idea of having a romantic partner someday. I left my old identity of being a good Asian girl who is loyal to her family, who follows the society expectation of having a job, a husband and children to make her parents proud, and make her friends jealous (lol, I make this friends part up). It felt a little scary to be honest. But I also felt powerful and free. The power and freedom to design my own life and to follow my heart at that point. And I thought it was the happy ending of my life. I thought from then it was gonna be only enlightenment. Totally naive!
For years later, I found myself leaving my Guru, my spiritual family, my belief. And this time it was very difficult. My flatmate, who had been Sri Chinmoy's disciple for over twenty years, cried her heart out. She told me she cried seven times and she said she worried I was never gonna be happy again out of Guru light and protection. I was very sad and at the same time I was excited for freedom, both outer freedom and inner freedom. I am not going to go into too much details of this story today. But I had to say my Path is not a cult. Well there are things sound very culty, but they are not. Of course, there is nobody that is perfect. But I had some of the most beautiful times of my youth with the Path. I learned how to meditate, how to believe in myself and my magic, how to love myself, how to be honest and respectful to myself.... many many things through the experiences I had within the Sri Chinmoy's meditation community in Auckland. So, what is the problem? What made me leave?
It was not a problem to be exact. Even back then I saw it as a problem and that things went wrong. And most of the people around me saw it as a problem. Now, I don't see it that way any more. It was simply an experience for me to go through and to be able to be more myself. I left the Path because I was becoming more of myself than I was before. I realized the urgent of aligning my action to my higher purpose. I wanted to teach meditation to many more people without trying to get them joining my spiritual path. I wanted to create my own artworks that has nothing relating to my Guru's teachings or inspirational source. I wanted to explore beauty of all different styles or techniques of meditation. I wanted to dream big and fly as high as I could. I wanted to serve in the world, not away from the world.
I see this pattern here in my life. As soon as I put myself in a box of identity of some sort, my soul would cry and want to get out. Then I thought there must be something wrong with me. Why would I not be able to commit to anything? Why? Why? Why? And I keep looking outside for a different box, different jar whatever shape it is. I just want a label to feel that I belong to somewhere. It was endless searching like that thing doesn't exist. And ... OMG! It doesn't exist! Because we evolve, life evolve, things change. Because it is simply a flow. Life never stops moving and never stops demanding our internal growth. We outgrow each phase, and each role with time. Each one eventually falls away as we become larger and more expansive.
There I see, nothing is wrong. All these experiences are here to serve me for my own revolution. I needed to break all these old identities, form new ones and then to realize that I again being in another box. I let go of it again. It would happen again and again and again for me to every time be my truest self , in this moment, in the now, not in the past, not in future. Identity or role is like a costume we are wearing in the moment. It is okay to change them. What we never lose is our Self. It is our point of consciousness. It is the life energy that is neither created nor destroyed.
I recently read this beautiful book named Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Here is what she wrote in the book:
"I am here to keep becoming truer, more beautiful versions of myself again and again forever. To be alive is to be in a perpetual state of revolution. Whether I like it or not, pain is the fuel of revolution. Everything I need to become the woman I’m meant to be next is inside my feelings of now. Life is alchemy, and emotions are the fire that turns me to gold. I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day. If I can sit in the fire of my own feelings, I will keep becoming."
And that is what I wanted to share today. I would love to here your thoughts and stories of letting go. Either letting go of an identity, letting go of a relationship, or anything that you want to share to our little community. You can write or send voice message to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and I will see you in the next episode.
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