I am Jen, female, 46.7 years old, white. I am a partner, sister, daughter, aunt, God mother, niece, cousin. I am an ex. I am the last of nine children. I am a friend, community member, teacher, guide, facilitator, retreat leader, business owner. I am one who dabbles in writing. I am Lithuanian and French. I am an environmental leader, a democrat. I am the owner of a cabin, land, a retreat center, a truck, a yoga studio, a dog and a cat. I am I am I am I am IamIamIamIamIam……..
Really? Is this who I am?
What a good question.
These roles and identities are just a flavor of what “I” attempt to hold up, live up to, secure, and care for. No wonder I got tired and insecure. That is some pressure cooker. And who claimed it all? Me. I did.
According to Byron Katie, the mind has to identify as a ‘something’ in order to exist. It has to live out its life proving it, identifying with what…it…is…not — a body, a me.
I am Jen. Is it true? Yes (of course, silly, ask anyone who knows you.)
I am Jen. Can I absolutely know that it’s true? No. (I cannot know that is absolutely who or what I am.)
How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought, that “I am Jen?”
I begin to separate, believing ‘I am Jen’ distinguishes me, I look for you to remember my name, to notice me, I begin to hold up a reputation and want you to see me in a good light. When I believe “I am Jen”, I am a separate body on a separate planet from you, there is a distance between us. I hold a position in my family when I believe this thought and I feel limited and boxed.
I am Jen. Who would I be without that thought?
When I sit and contemplate who I would be without this belief, I feel free, ordinary, equal to all, having nothing to prove, I blend with the human race. I feel more present, spontaneous, spacious. I experience namelessness which feels expansive, connected and beyond structure or form.
Turn the thought around:
I am not Jen.
Give 3 genuine, specific examples of how this turnaround could be as true or truer than the original belief.
- I cannot remember being born, being brought home to a family, being named.
- I have never seen an original birth certificate.
- I could have been switched in the hospital or adopted under another, original name.
- Being a Jen feels limiting and limited. Naming “me” feels like the big me has been put in a box. I feel like more than a Jen when something inside connects with strangers, nature, the sea, the nameless, like today on my bike ride to the ocean when a woman was dancing with herself, with Life, twirling and spinning down the boardwalk smiling and when I watched the nanny let the little girl run free without holding her hand even though she was wobbly and new to running and could have fallen on the pavement. “I”had no name in those moments. Whatever remained of Jen evaporated into Oneness.
This piece is inspired by Byron Katie and the No Body Intensive “I” just returned from.The piece shares an example of The Work, a powerful tool of self-discovery that found Katie in 1986 and found me in 2006.