The famous philosopher, Renee Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am".
I guess he was saying that he exists because he has thoughts?
I'm pretty sure the famous yogi, Patanjali would have said otherwise. He might have said, "I think, therefore I forget who I am."
According to yoga philosophy, our thinking has the potential to cause us great confusion and suffering. Yogis compare our thoughts to waves in a rough sea. The turbulent salt water prevents us from seeing the stillness that lies at bottom of the ocean. Our turbulent minds prevent us from seeing the stillness that lies underneath our judgments, comparisons, stories, and incessant thinking.
Our thoughts cause us suffering when they are out of control. Just think of a time when you couldn't get a thought, worry, or story out of your head. A racing mind can interfere with your sleep or take you away from the present when you are awake.
The yogis believed that deep inside we actually have an inner awareness that is separate from the layer of our mind. This center is always peaceful, always aware, and always wise. This unchanging center is who we are.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the stories that race through our mind that we begin to think we actually are our thoughts. The stories that we tell ourselves and the labels that we give ourselves can run our lives. We start to think the voice in our head that is constantly talking, judging, and projecting is who we are. If we take a step back from our thoughts, we may realize that the awareness that lies underneath our turbulent mind is actually who we are.
If we can access this place, we will be free from the constantly changing nature of our bodies, minds, and experiences.
If you spend a moment, an hour, or a day just listening to all the conversation that takes place inside your own head, you will realize how fickle your mind can be. It jumps from one thought to another and then back again.
Michael Singer, author of, The Untethered Soul suggests that we, "Practice detaching from our physical, emotional, and mental experiences." He goes on to advise that we, "Notice who is experiencing the experience." He says, "You will then realize that the one who experiences the experience is separate and has a conscious awareness of what is happening to you in your physical, emotional, and mental body."
Taking some time every day to sit quietly in meditation or any other practice that helps you to quiet your mind will help you let go the constant chatter.
The great yogi, Rahamana Maharishi, said, "the way to attain inner freedom is to continuously and sincerely ask the question, "Who am I?"
Maybe a good place to start is to list who you are not.
You are not your mind. (sorry Descartes)
You are not your body.
You are not your emotions.
You are not your experiences.
Ask again, "Who am I ?" and then repeat the following...
"I am the one who sees. From back in here somewhere I look out and I am aware of the events, thoughts, and emotions that pass before me."
When you are established in who you are deep inside and live from that place, you will remain centered, steady, and present regardless of the changes that life brings.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras