Who Am I? A Question to Challenge the Ego
If I asked you who you are, it would seem like a ridiculous question. You’re Peter, John, Louis, Sarah, Albert, etc. Okay, but that’s just your name – my question goes much deeper than that, much further beyond the ego, and the answer is just as simple but much more fascinating.
It’s fascinating because it requires growth, work, and a little dedication. The answer is worth the effort, as it is a transcendent and dynamic pillar of your life. So I encourage you to keep reading and we’ll discover it together!
Do you know who you are?
Ask yourself, who am I? You probably don’t have the slightest doubt that the first thing that comes to your mind, whatever it is, might be false. It couldn’t be any other way, since the question was answered by yourself, your own ego. The ego constructs a conscious identity for you, such that you are able to respond. It makes you think that you’re a separate being from the rest of the world.
The ego causes you to see the world as fragmented, replete with separate entities, and you’re one of them. And it does everything in its power to accumulate as much as possible. It loves to possess, so it never stops trying to create maximum separation between the self and the rest of the fragments that reality is divided into.
It takes advantage of the conscious mind‘s connection with the physical world, where there are limitations imposed by space and time, distances and durations. It can create separation as it wishes.
It’s normal for the ego to act this way, as it operates within the domain of the conscious mind. This isn’t a bad thing. If you know how to use it to your advantage, it can help you learn how create a certain amount of distance (not physical, but internal), and then you can distance yourself from it.
In other words, you can move away from your false self and start to get closer to your true essence. The key is to repeat the question, but remember that the ego is the one responding, and therefore the answers are always false.
A meditation exercise to challenge the ego
The ego is based on duality. It likes to differentiate. To get out of its realm of control, you have to follow the opposite path, the one of unification, by practicing meditation. The question “who am I?” is a very powerful place to start.
I suggest the following exercise:
- Sit comfortably, with your back straight.
- Close your eyes and relax your body.
- Take three slow, deep breaths and pay close attention to your breathing.
- Recover your natural rhythm of breathing and concentrate on it. Mentally count each inhale and exhale.
- If you lose count, start again from one.
- When you get to ten, ask yourself “who am I?“ Repeat the question various times. You can even visualize it.
- Remain in a receptive state. Don’t search for anything. Just remain alert to and curious about any phenomena that arise, whether it’s a sound, a mental image, a word, etc. Mindfulness is a very powerful practice, and you’ll achieve better results the more you do it.
- As soon as an idea comes to mind, challenge it. For example, if your first response is “I am [your name],” respond by telling yourself “I am not [your name], I am a person who is called [your name].” If your response is “I am the director of [your business],” tell yourself “I am not the director of [your business], I am a person who holds the title of director at [your business].” If the answer is “I am this body,” respond “I am not this body, I am a person who has this physical appearance.” Respond with something similar for any idea you might have.
- Finish by taking three deep breaths and opening your eyes.
Discover who you truly are
I recommend that you practice the above exercise every day, at whatever time works best for you. The most important part is that you’re consistent. If you take it seriously, it’s easy to continue doing it, and it will be quite revealing.
Every day you’ll learn a little bit more about who you are and get a little bit closer to your best self. You’ll understand that the answer to the titular question of this article cannot be expressed with words. It’s absolutely impossible. You’ll only know it through direct experience, and that’s where the above exercise will get you.
Practicing meditation in general will also lead you in that direction, from your inferior self to your best self. When you’re too close to your ego, you know who you are. When you enter a meditative state, you get closer to your true essence, and you’ll know that you’ve gotten there, because you’ll stop knowing who you are.
You’ll just know that you are, that you exist. Mindfulness is a powerful tool on this journey that you can use in practical and applicable ways every day.
I wish you a happy meditation and hope that this exercise brings you many benefits in your journey of personal evolution.