Throughout my life’s journey I have read several books on Yogic Philosophy that talk about uncovering the True Self. Truthfully, this has always seemed a somewhat nebulous concept to me. I have been a student of Yogic Philosophy and a practicing Yogi for seven years now and was beginning to get bewildered by what I considered to be unconscious barriers blocking me from connecting with my ‘True Self.’
No matter how hard I tried to get in touch with my ‘True Self’ through meditation, the more elusive it would seem. I would often find myself feeling frustrated, thinking that I was failing in my practice. Through a recent flash of insight, I came to see that ‘True Self’ is closely related to what psychologists refer to as ‘authenticity,’ which is defined as ‘the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit or character despite external pressures’. Personally, I feel that it means living with respect for our intuition, rather than for our intellect alone. It means listening to the ‘inner voice’ which speaks the truth.
Staying connected to my True Self, no matter how that is conceived, has always been a challenge for me, as I have always prized intellectual pursuits and prided myself on being a well-read student of various disciplines. But I’ve come to realize that spending too much time in the intellectual domain can create imbalance and become a breeding ground for the ego’s controlling tendencies.
Imbalance and ego-dominance can manifest in a variety of ways often leading to suffering, as we move further away from the vulnerable state required to connect with our true selves and our authentic voices. This intuitive insight came to me after a meditation session and I had uncovered my answer.
The root cause of the struggle, which was blocking me from moving deeper into my practice, was related to control. Understanding this, I began using meditation and extended Savasanas as a means of addressing the issue. Consequently, Savasana holds a much deeper meaning for me now. Instead of simply being a relaxation pose, it has come to represent ‘conscious surrender’, which previously was not even a phrase that I had in my vocabulary.
The quote by Bronnie Ware from her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying became somewhat of a mantra to me. It goes like this: “Surrender is not giving up and it takes an enormous amount of courage. Often we are only capable of doing so when the pain of trying to control the outcome becomes too much to bear”. Our egos want so much to be in control of situations, people and especially outcomes. But this hyper-focus on control blocks us from staying present, vulnerable and connected to ourselves, which is essential for creating the life we all want – a balanced life with purpose, healthy relationships and joyful self-expression.
A wise person in my life once told me that ‘You can direct your life, but you can’t completely control it.” I have just recently come to appreciate the meaning of those words.
So how do we let go of this strong desire to control and micromanage our lives? How do we remain vulnerable and connected to our True Selves? Perhaps the first step is to cultivate the awareness that there is a ‘True Self’ behind the veil of control or other impediment. Once we realize this, we can begin to work with loving compassion and gently tame that tiger, creating space and safety for a more authentic life aligned with our True Self.