I Am… Who Am I Anyway?

I Am… Who Am I Anyway?

I Am… Who Am I Anyway?


by Skila Ramirez, C-IAYT, 500 ERYT, Yoga Therapist
Hopemead Counseling & Trauma Center

So, I’ve pondered this more than once, “Who am I?”  This question, so deep, and maybe a little hippie-dippie, can create some profound introspection. Yoga teaches us that our personal life experience is created by many different perceptions of self, the Koshas. The yoga term Kosha translates to “veil.” It is a term used to describe the things that hide our true self.  “I am” is the most powerful statement when it comes to self-identification.  All too often, we use the phrase “I am” out of context.  We can begin to identify with things around us and in us that is not us. I like to refer to this as a form of mistaken identity. Meditation and movement in a yoga class help us to clearly identify what we are not so that we can in some way begin to know ourselves; also known as self-realization.

On this path to self-realization, a yoga therapist can help us to identify harmful “I am” statements that we connect to our emotions. Notice when you feel an emotion and how you communicate it. Let’s use the emotion of anger as an example. When you’re feeling angry, do you say, “I am angry,” or “I am feeling angry?” The phrases are so similar. However, the language we use can in some way tell us if we are self-identifying with an emotion (being an emotion) or observing the emotion (having self-awareness). Thinking, “I am angry,” is the form of mistaken identity. The “I am” statement can be self-prophesizing and creating more anger, thus, keeping us in a perpetual state of disease. The phrase, “I am feeling angry” helps us to depersonalize the experience and enables us to realize, “I am a human having an emotion. I am not my emotions.”

Some people have been taught, “because you feel this way, you must be this way.” This is not true. It is possible for us to be polite, compassionate, and fun-loving persons who experience anger (or disappointment, sadness, fear, etc.). The experience of an emotion does not make us that emotion.  When we separate our sense of self or “I” from the emotions, we can become more objective.  An over-identification with emotion will almost always elicit some sort of behavior or action that is out of character. Objectivity keeps us connected to our sense of self, and thus, we stay more emotionally centered, and act more like ourselves.

So, as we ponder, “Who am I?” as a question, it can be helpful to use the process of elimination. Identify the body, breath, mind, thoughts, perceptions, and emotions, then declare: “I am not my body, I am not my breath, I am not my mind, I am not my thoughts, perceptions, and emotions.”  So, what are we left to be? We are all being human. Human beings or humans being. Affirming our human experience, we can simply affirm, I am alive.”

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