We wear many hats throughout our lives, filling different roles. These include our relationships, occupations, and activities. Additionally, we might strongly identify with our body, being male or female, tall or short, flexible or strong, fit or fat.
As we observe our thoughts, we can see which roles and conditions prevail. One role might be your sense of self in your body: you are a woman or a man. Other roles involve our relationships to others: you are a sister or brother, a friend, or a coworker. We often identify with our careers: you could be a journalist, a mechanic, or a nurse. We have hobbies: you are a gardener or a gamer. We have responsibilities: you are a caretaker or a cook. And we identify with our beliefs: maybe you think of yourself as a liberal or a conservative.
Throughout the next week, set aside five minutes each morning, during your first cup of coffee or tea—or just before you meditate. Make a list. What roles do you expect to fill today? What circumstances will you identify yourself with? How often does the state of your physical body come into your awareness? Here’s a sample list:
- I’m a mom (daughter, wife, etc.)
- I’m a citizen; family member (American, Smith, etc.)
- I’m a teacher (salesman, programmer, doctor)
- I’m an amateur photographer (knitter, camper, etc.)
- I’m tired (sick, strong, energetic)
There aren’t any right or wrong answers. Nothing is bad. Try to fill up a whole page, use whatever comes to your mind. If convenient, add to your list throughout the day.
At the end of each day, review your notes. Notice how often your sense of self changes. At the end of the week, think about what you’ve noticed in your self-talk, especially any thought that begins with “I am.” Record those observations. Feel free to come back to Quiet Karma and share what you’ve learned with others.
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Chityānanda has been a disciple of Svāmī Gurupremānanda Sarasvatī since 1975. She teaches meditation and yoga as a spiritual path in Santa Cruz, California.