Any long time meditator will tell you that a majority of the practice is about getting to know yourself. This includes uncovering all those nice things you prefer to show the world, as well as all of those thoughts, beliefs, and feelings you would rather keep secretly hidden from the light of day.
One way to get started on this path is through a self inquiry meditation. Here’s how:
1. Grab your meditation pillow and a candle. Light the candle and sit down as you normally would and allow your mind to settle. Rather than trying to get your mind to focus on any one thing, practice simply becoming aware of any thoughts or feelings that naturally arise.
2. After you have been sitting for 15 minutes, quietly ask yourself the question, “Who am I?” Without resistance or expectation, allow the question to drop down into your awareness (you can imagine it descending as you would if climbing down a ladder).
3. Notice how the mind will try to answer the question. While the monkey mind is good at this sort of thing, unfortunately for this exercise, figuring the question out isn’t going to help you. When you find that your mind is still again, ask the question a second time and notice anything that arises.
4. Again, from a place of stillness, go deeper into the questioning. Ask, “Who is it that thinks these thoughts?” or “Where do these thoughts come from?” Again noticing, but not attaching to, what might come up.
5. Notice what is commonly referred to as the magic of meditation, the concept of I. Are you just your body and your mind? Or are you something much deeper, something much more undefinable?
6. Repeat the exercise everyday for a week. While you might end up at the same answer, that is an answerless answer, this type of self inquiry practice will most definitely translate into your daily life. By recognizing that you are not just made up of your physical and mental attributes, the deeper awareness that you will experience will allow you to begin to be more mindful and less attached to things as you go about your day.