When your head hurts, you may say, “I have a headache. I don’t feel well.” Notice that in the first sentence you describe yourself as the one who has the headache, and in the second sentence you identify with that pain and say, “I don’t feel well.”

Living in awareness of your true Self entails detaching from your identification with the conditions of your body and mind and identifying with being the inner observer of them.

When you do this, you will find your mind becomes peaceful and balanced.

To achieve this happy state, it’s first important to understand that we have two identities— a real identity, that is our true Self; and an apparent identity, the ego self. Sometimes they are called the higher Self and the lower self respectively.

The true Self is blissful, divine spirit. It never changes and is always the inner observer. The ego or lower self is the sense of individuality that arises when we identify with our body, mind and the constantly changing outer circumstances.

Living in awareness of your true Self—identify with the actor and not the costume

The ego thinks itself to be the doer of the actions and the experiencer of the world. In fact, it is neither. It is merely a phantom identity that cannot exist, do, or know anything on its own. It’s existence and abilities all come from the real Self.

This idea can be illustrated through an everyday example. Let’s say Lance Henry is an actor, who is playing the lead role as a king in a theatrical production.

Lance walks into his dressing room to get ready for his performance. His royal garb is on a hanger on the wall and other essentials like his makeup and accessories are set out for him. There is a sceptre, a cape, a crown, and a variety of jewellery.

Actor playing the part of a king representing living in awareness of your true Self, the actor not the costume.When Lance puts on his costume, he takes on the appearance of royalty. He then goes on stage, immerses himself in his role and gives a standout performance as the king.

Now, where did the identity of the king come from? Did it come from the costume or from Lance? The costume alone didn’t make the king and Lance Henry is not a king either.

The king was an apparent identity that came to life when Lance Henry put on the costume, identified with it and acted like a king.

In reality, there was no king, but only the actor, Lance Henry. Even while the audience was watching the king, they were actually seeing Lance Henry. The king was Lance’s fictional identity.

Similarly, our fictional identity or the ego self, gains its existence and abilities from the real Self. It is a “costume” that we identify with. It’s not who we really are. We are the Self, the “actor” playing the role associated with the costume.

Like an actor who has forgotten his real identity, we too have forgotten our real identity. When the body gets sick, or ages, we think we are sick or aging. When we experience sadness, excitement, or depression, we identify with these states of mind and say, “I’m sad” or “I’m excited” and so on.

The Self never suffers any limitations, growth, or changes. It is not subject to sorrow of any kind that may come from outer situations, other people, or the changing conditions of the mind and body. It is changeless, free, and ever blissful.

Living in awareness of your true Self—practice being the inner witness in meditation first

woman meditating on the Self with to represent living in awareness of your true SelfLiving in awareness of your true Self involves shifting your focus from your thoughts, feelings, and body to being the inner witness.

It’s a different way of being—being the Self, that is. It’s not something we are habituated to. To program yourself to shift your focus to the Self within, first practice it in meditation. Then it will be easier to withdraw and focus on the Self in your everyday life.

Here’s what you can do in meditation:

Your breath
Start taking slow, deep breaths. If you are a beginner, don’t force or strain to breathe in this way. Stop and relax if you start to feel a little light-headed. Then continue breathing as comfortably as you can.

As you regulate your breathing, you will begin to relax. You may notice that some emotions start to rise up such as sadness, anger, or anxiety. As soon as you are aware of them, focus on your breath and release them as you breathe out.

If they are strong and stubborn, call upon the divine to free up your heart. Keep the breathing even and deep as you do this. Stay calm. You will find that as you ask for help, it does come, and you will begin to feel lighter and calmer.

Memories of the past and plans for the future
As you sit still and slow down your breathing, you will find that thoughts from within will start to disturb your mental peace. Memories of the past or plans and anxieties for the future may come up.

Stay calm, focus on your breathing and turn your attention to being the inner witness of your thoughts.

Remember, if you can see the thoughts, they are separate from you and cannot affect you unless you identify with them and make them real. Your thoughts are powered by your awareness and engagement in them.

When you focus your awareness on being the witness of the thoughts, they die away from lack of attention.

If you are unable to easily shift to being the witness, then you can hold the intention of being so and then affirm, Thoughts arise in me. They cannot affect me. I am the inner witness, separate and untouched by the thoughts.

You can calmly repeat this affirmation in your mind as many times as needed. Keep your breath slow and deep. Hold your attention to being the inner witness as long as you can. And then, you can end your meditation.

When you do this simple meditation technique daily, you will be surprised to find that you are generally calmer during the day. The little inconveniences, frustrations and worries that used to disturb your mind won’t affect you as much. You will be less reactive, and your overall mood will more cheerful.

Your higher Self is the silent witness within

The higher Self is always present, and every now and then, we do unknowingly identify with being the inner witness in what we think and say. For instance, we could say, “I felt the anger rising in me,” instead of owning the emotion and saying, “I became angry.”

Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle had a sudden and dramatic realization of being the inner witness. In his book, The Power of Now, he writes that he had a life-changing experience at the age of twenty-nine. At that time, he was living with severe anxiety and suicidal depression.

One night, while in a deeply depressed mood, he concluded that he would be better off dead than alive. “I cannot live with myself any longer”, “I cannot live with myself any longer,” he repeated to himself.

Suddenly, he became aware of how peculiar this thought was. He writes: “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”

Indeed, only the higher Self “I” is real.

Living in awareness of your true Self comes when you understand your two identities and choose to abide by the higher one—the ever-present blissful and silent witness within.

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Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "Your Spiritual Journey" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counseling sessions on-line.

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