Podcast #6 – Identity

Many years ago I visited a meditation Center in Great Neck, New York.
My teacher Sabita asked me, “who are you?”
I quickly answered, “Mindy.”
“No,” she said “that is not who you are. Who are you?”
“I am a mother, a yoga teacher.”
“That is not who you are. Tell me who you are.”

“I am woman, I am a Jewish.”
“That is not who you are.”
Now, I became frustrated. “I already told you who I am!”
Sabita looked at me with her bright blue eyes smiling, “you are a divine soul, Mindy. “
Years later those words were repeated to me in a slighted different way by my teacher, Manorama D”Alvia:
Her Guru, Sri Brahmanada Saraswati said, “you are not a body and a mind, although you have a body and a mind.” To that Manorama added, “But one must FEEL they are not the body and mind.”
Those words really hit home. I was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home where I learned that I was a soul. I had no idea, though, how to feel like I was a soul, how to live like I was a divine soul.
It wasn’t until I began yoga and then meditation that the window to this experience began to open. It is impossible to explore these teachings with the mind. The only way to begin this process is to learn how to be still and watch the movement of the mind. It is by having a steady regular practice of meditation that one learns that although he may have many thought, he is NOT his thoughts. We go through life having all kinds of feelings; one minute we are happy, the next we are angry, the next we are surprised, the next we are anxious. Thinking is a normal function of the mind, but BECOMING our thoughts, IE Being angry, Being Sad is a choice we make. It is by cultivating the aspect of ourselves that is the observer; by watching the vagaries of the mind while we sit still in meditation that we first catch a glimpse that we are NOT our thoughts.
Then perhaps we ask ourselves, “well, if I’m not my thought then who am I?’ THAT is the real question.
To quote Sri Brahmananda Saraswati, ”Your First and foremost duty is to know who you are. Without knowing oneself, real life does not begin.”