Here's a short exercise for you, write down who you think you are. Just make a list…and here are a few descriptive concepts to get you going: What are your name, age, height, nationality, politics, religious beliefs, class… Are you single, in a relationship, a mother, father, grandparent, child, brother, sister, wife, husband, teacher, lawyer, student, mechanic, techie, artist… Are you outgoing, shy, clever, creative, passionate, a dreamer, funny, an entrepreneur, vegan, kind, a thinker, sporty, trendy, lazy, energetic, attractive, not attractive, confident, sad, funny, loyal, friendly, successful, have good taste, emotional, intellectual, a spiritual seeker…
This is your personal story, who you believe you are. It is your identity.
Now let’s ask ourselves a few questions…
How much of the list has changed over time? For example, your body is not the same even as it was yesterday, let alone a few years ago because it has aged and its cells are continuously being replaced. Now think back to what you believed 5 years ago, then 15 years ago. Have your beliefs changed? Do your emotions stay constant? Does your mind change?
The reality is, our description is only a snapshot in time. It is an outline we have become conditioned to believe about our place in the world, based on what we have learned through our upbringing, education, society, and the circumstances we have experienced throughout our lives - and it changes over time. But it is who we think we know we are – and we really do believe we know, don't we?
But how solid are these beliefs? Is there something else to you, something that has existed throughout time, that is in the background and has never changed?
Explore this question and you’ll find that you can take a step back, into an awareness of all the things on your list. You can become ‘conscious’ of everything that you believe you are and see it as in the foreground. From this 'background place', you can observe everything that happens within your mind. You still engage, but you realise that your list of who you thought you were is all surface, and not who you truly are.