I remember being about six or seven years old and hearing the word “I” in my head for the very first time.
I ran into the house and found my mom, exclaiming that someone was speaking as me in my head—someone calling themselves “I”. Apparently there had been enough momentum of language, experience, and identity with this body/mind complex named Anna that a virtual kidnapping had occurred. Or so it seemed. What ensued was a lifetime of more me, mine and my as an obvious mindset.
Just about everything spoken of with the English language seems owned or possessed—not only my toys, my boyfriend, my stomach and my sadness, but the “I” having this experience was constantly reinvented as a seemingly solid entity.
Removing the word “I” as often as possible from the spoken language has been an interesting challenge to say the least.
Speaking as a body of loving presence or consciousness, it is possible to see and even feel the pull of the way language naturally reconstructs an assumed identity which can make the use of the English language a bit of a struggle.
As yoga teachers, we are often instructed to use a mode of verbal shorthand that negates the use of the word my when referring to a body part. “Extend the right arm,” or “Spiral the left femur” are common signals. And, in truth, I am not my arm or femur, nor do I own it.
So the next time you notice sadness maybe try this experiment: share with someone how sadness is rising rather than stating “I am sad.” Notice how different this feels, even at a deeply visceral level. I no longer need to prove that “I am sad,” but I can better express from the Self, the light of awareness, that sees this movement of sadness. Or try sharing that hunger is present, rather than claiming an I who has that hunger! As silly as it sounds, using words in this way creates a completely different relationship with phenomenon rising in any one moment. And, since sadness and hunger are indeed experiences that in no way need to define my I AMness, a feeling of freedom and steadiness begin to emerge.
It is similar to the idea of dropping labels: when we drop a defining, and therefore limiting description, the thing being described is free to be itself. We liberate the experience and the experiencer simultaneously!
If a person’s body is presenting symptoms of Lyme’s disease and is spoken of as a victim of Lyme’s, we are limiting our vision and defining an experience. Just like I am having the experience of being a mother, a teacher, a wife, a daughter, even that of being female, I am ultimately none of these things—they are all experiences, or vehicles for experience and transformation in the realm of polarity.
So, where do we speak from if not the individuated sense of “I”?’ If the orientation of “I” shifts to the I of loving presence or the I of Consciousness then as the light of awareness, everything can be seen as a play of life. And as seen from this perspective, communication has the potential for a swift change.
How will we regard our self and each other? Fearlessly. Experiences can come and go, as they will and certainly do, without the one experiencing them misidentifying as someone separate at all.
Speaking from the body of loving presence also enables connection and a healthy sense of unattachment, compassion and boundaries, feeling and letting go.
Instead of speaking from our autobiography, we have the opportunity to reflect from a state of deep listening to that which is said, or is trying to be said by the person we are listening to. We, as that consciousness, have no need to fix, analyze or categorize their experience, much less our own, and in place an energetic exchange without defense or pretense can flow. Even a constriction in the body or the energetic flow between two people can be seen in and from the space of loving presence.
Another significant inquiry asks that as you look around at everything in your immediate environment, try letting go of all labels and names. Instead, name each and every thing as Universe. Allow the practice of naming everything Universe to create a seamless symmetry in the world of polarity.
So, what’s the point? Culturally, I have been trained to appreciate the uniqueness in things, but in the course of letting go of labels, the appreciation is now pointed toward the ground being of consciousness that gives rise to the smallest of unique things. The difference is that the appreciation is not for the variety itself, but for the Universe and its divine tremor birthing this incredible display of variety in all domains, and the variety.
May we find ways to put consciousness into motion through the free flow of resonant words.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Anna Pittman
Apprentice editor: Katarina Tavčar / Editor: Travis May
Photo: Steve Rosenfield