Answering the Question: "Who am I?"

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

The journey inward is a lifelong expedition. The central question we ask ourselves in meditation no matter the lineage is: who am I, who am I, who am I?

Some common answers are that I am my body, I am my profession, I am my interests and hobbies, I am my gender, and I am my personality. My all-time favorite answer to this question is “I am who I think you think I am,” by the sociologist Charles Cooley. This brain-blast of a quote just means that our identities are intrinsically tied up in what we think other people think about us.

However, if I am not my body, my personality, or the person that I sometimes pretend to be around other people, who am I beyond these things?

Knowledge from the worlds’ wisdom traditions tells us that none of these elements say anything about who we are in our totality. In other words, our job titles, interests, and personalities are parts of our identity, but no single one of them is the answer to the question “who am I?” It also may be helpful to point out that our hobbies and jobs are all things that we do, not things that we are. For example, I perform duties as a bank clerk, but I would not say that these duties define who I am as a person. Now that we have a better understanding of what we are not, how do we answer this beast of a question?

The work that we do in the practice of mindfulness and meditation is to go inward and discover a deeper knowing of who we are. Reading books on mindfulness and spirituality, practicing meditation, journaling, and questioning has allowed me to peel some layers of my inner onion. In doing, I have been able to get closer to who I am regardless of social expectations, my past and future, and my negative self-esteem. What I have found is that who I am is quite nebulous and difficult to put my finger on. For Opulent Mindfulness founder and leader Meris Gebhardt, her answer to “who am I?” came after hours of meditation, practice, questioning and yes, journaling. She I discovered that when stripped away of all extraneous junk, she is light. In her own words, “Now that I know - I am light - everything else falls into alignment. If I am not feeling luminous, bright, healing and elevated then I steer my beacon in another direction.”

I have not had the same experience as Meris in my practice, but I also have not been meditating as long as she has. However, I have learned what it is like to move closer to living as a human-being vs. a human-doing. I still love working and accomplishing things on my to-do list, and I try to find new strategies every day to make my work life more efficient. However, I also try to stay in touch with what it means to be, regardless of how many things I have checked off my list.

I hope this first blog post on our new and improved website has proven to be insightful in trying to answer to fun and exciting question of who are we. Blog #2 will focus on one of my favorite weekly topics - the practice of austerity! Thank you for your time, my reader, and I hope you keep coming back to read more about our work here at OM.

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