I Am Not My Body
One of my favorite forms of meditation, and one that I’ve come back to again and again in the past year or so, is based on the sanskrit phrase “neti neti” which loosely translates to “not this, not that.”
In it, you focus on various aspects of life that you often identify with, and remind yourself that you are not those things. This could be anything like your job, clothes, or personality traits, but I like to focus on body, mind, and emotions because I feel like it’s a great way to check in with myself and covers a lot of ground.
So for example, once I’ve settled in and found some stillness, I’ll turn my attention to my body. I’ll check in with my body and acknowledge how it feels in that moment and anything I’ve done with it recently. I then say to myself, “because I have a body and know my body, I am not my body.” Then I just let that sit and sink in for a bit. Maybe I feel like my body has “failed” me recently for not doing what I wanted it to do, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. I am not my body, after all.
Next I move on to my mind. I check in with it and acknowledge how it’s feeling or any things I’ve been thinking about recently. Then I say to myself, “because have thoughts and I know my mind, I am not my mind.” Again I let that sink in for a bit.
Finally I move to my emotions and repeat the process. I tend to struggle with suppressing my emotions, so I like to first ask myself “how do you feel?” and acknowledge anything I’ve been feeling recently. Then I say to myself, “because have emotions and feel my emotions, I am not my emotions.” And then I sit with that for a bit. Maybe I’ve been feeling anxious or frustrated lately, but that’s ok because my worth is not dependent on those emotions.
But all of this sort of begs the question: if I’m not all of these things, then what AM I? So the last thing I like to do is to spend some time with my true self — the Maria who exists beyond all the distractions and expectations. This is obviously a very personal thing, but I like to imagine my “essence” as a blue light at the very center of my chest. I heard the true self described as the “heart cave” once and I loved that, so sometimes when I’m feeling like I need to come back to my center I imagine entering a cave and hanging out with my blue light in there. Recently as I’ve been practicing sharing my “true self” with the world, I’ve been imagining the light expanding outward. If this seems a bit overwhelming or you feel skeptical about it, just do what feels right to you — that’s the point anyway!
This whole practice has been especially helpful for me to navigate change and to be more in tune with and make decisions for myself and not because somebody else wants or expects me to. It’s also helped me become more at peace with aspects of “myself” that I don’t like — because I am not my appearance or my anxiety, and I am actually so much more than those things.
If you’re new to meditation I highly recommend the headspace app! I’ve been using it for years and love it. Also huge shoutout to Practice Yoga Austin for introducing me to meditation and this practice specifically, and for being all around awesome people.
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