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Dropping Your Self

Dear Integral Meditators,

What happens when you simply stop thinking about yourself for a while? What benefits might there be? The article below explores these questions in a mindfulness context, enjoy!

In the spirit of the no-self,


Dropping Your Self

When I was a Buddhist monk doing my studies there was a lot of emphasis placed upon the  study of the self, and the study of the no-self. What it all basically boils down to on a practical level is this; we are deeply attached to our idea of what we think of as ‘I’. This attachment to our idea of who we think we are acts as the foundational basis of almost every thought, emotion and action that we have/do, and it gives rise to a huge amount of stress, anxiety, pain and confusion.

Dropping your I
So, one of the quickest ways of finding a freedom, or liberation from this confusion is simply to spend periods of time where we simply stop thinking about ourself, or ‘drop the I’. You can do this as a mindfulness meditation by choosing a fixed period of time, say 5-15mins to sit quietly. During this time there are basically two rules:

  • You can think about anything you like except your I or self
  • You drop all the labels that you usually associate with your idea of who you are; job title, gender, pretty/ugly, strong/weak (etc), position in society, married or single, successful or looser. Any concept, idea or habitual way you have of thinking or describing yourself or I; drop that

Your job for the time you have set aside is simply to drop the self and be aware; put it down and not pick it up.

The discovery of a new self in the no-self
When we drop the self in this way, one of the things that we discover is an open spacious experience of self that we were previously unaware of. It is a self that is free from labels and preconceptions; a self that is open to the moment, to learning and to being genuinely creative and spontaneous. Because it resists all labels we might describe it as a ‘no-self’, but it might also be described as a deeper self or truer self. In Buddhism one of the terms used to describe it was our ‘Buddha Nature’; it is our deeper nature and everyone without exception has it.

Picking your everyday I back up
Once you become familiar with dropping your everyday I, you can then pick it back up again and use it in your daily life, but you always know that you are free to pick it up or put it down; you have a choice, and you are free to choose. You are not a slave to your I.

Relaxing and Awakening together
Dropping your I is a simple but profound practice that we can use to both deal with our everyday stress and challenges more effectively, building our concentration, and awakening to a new, deeper awareness of who we are and what we might be. It can be done on the train or even whilst walking. If you have a few moments after reading this article, you might like to try it straight away!

© Toby Ouvry 2016, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia:

Ongoing on Wednesday’s, 7.30-8.30pm – Wednesday Meditation Classes at Basic Essence with Toby

Saturday  March 19th, 2.30-5.30pm – Psychic & Psychological Self-Defence – Practical mindfulness meditation techniques for taking care of your energy, mind & heart in the face of the push & shove of daily life – A three hour workshop

Saturday  March 26th, 9.30am-12.30pm – Living Life From Your Inner Center – Meditations for Going With the Flow of the Present Moment – A three hour workshop

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