Find your Self: A beginner’s first meditation

Grammar matters. What happens if you take a fairly over-used phrase and muck about with the grammar?

Find yourself.
Find your self.
Find your Self.

Let’s give your Self a name, Self. It’s all going to get a bit existential at this point, but not long ago I became aware of the possible difference between me and my Self.

In a nutshell, I read a book on Vipassana meditation, had a conversation with my Yoga teachers about enlightenment and answering the question “who am ‘I’?” (or who IS ‘I’ if I’m going to be consistent with this detached grammar), and then I went and sat on nice flat rock and thought about it all for about half an hour.

I concluded thus.
‘I’ is probably one of two things

A) ‘I’ could be an illusion of consciousness, created by the neurological impulses that take place in my brain ,that will cease to exist when my brain ceases to function correctly.


B) ‘I’ is a separate consciousness from the body that it inhabits, in which case it could conceivably have a past and a future that extend beyond this body, both physically and metaphysically.

It’s all a bit head-fuck, but also Quite Interesting.

I recently heard evidence that supports A – i.e. when you’re dead you’re dead, or in this case, when you’re brain-dead then the consciousness is dead. I is dead, Self is dead.  I think it was on a BBC Radio 4 programme – probably was, that’s where I get most of my information.

But in order to be able to become detached and find the path to enlightenment, the meditation people reckon it has to be B.  I think.

So I tried imagining my Self as not part of my body. So instead of observing “I am breathing in, I am breathing out”, I tried “This body is breathing in, this body is breathing out”.

Felt weird.  I feel like my Self IS part of my body, at least insofar as it is the sum of the experiences that my body has been through.

While I was on the rock I did also try and work out where my body stops and the air around it begins.  If you think about it on a molecular level, they merge at some point (I’m picturing the solid, liquid and gas atoms vibrating from a school science textbook).  So if there is no physical barrier, theoretically I am part of everything around me – and if only I could tap into the electrical impulses of the stuff around me I could be aware of their sensations like I am aware of the sensations in my own body, only maybe a bit weaker.

I think this train of thought was based on to the Gaia theory that Isaac Asimov explores in Foundations Edge. Something about all the beings and inanimate objects being aware of each other’s consciousness on some level.

Anyway, I didn’t conclude one way or the other, it’s all just ideas stir-frying in my thought-wok.


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