Oh boy, the dreaded ego. It gets a bad rap, but your ego may actually be the key to happiness—if you know
how to work with it. Use this practice to help you look beyond your ego’s definition of you and discover
what lies beneath.
1. Settle into your body.
Come into a comfortable, seated posture, with your eyes closed, and your hands folded in your lap.
Lengthen your back, and let your chin move back so you feel as if your head is being suspended by a cord
from the ceiling. Scan your body, noticing and softening any tightness in the shoulders, face, thighs,
belly, arms, and hands. Take 5 deep inhalations and exhalations.
2. Focus on your breath.
Become aware of the rise and fall of the breath. Let your breathing be natural and relaxed as it brings
you into the present moment. Feel the coolness of the breath as it flows in the nostrils and the warmth
as it flows out. Notice where you feel the breath in your body. Do you feel it in the chest and
shoulders? In the diaphragm or belly?
3. Quiet the mind.
Sensing the flow of the breath, inhale with the thought “I am.” Feel the energy of the words mingling
with your breath, flowing into your inner body. Then, with the exhalation, feel the space that these
words leave in your consciousness. Continue to repeat the pure mantra “I am” without attaching any other
thoughts to it. Stay here for several minutes if you can, allowing yourself to become more and more
4. Practice inquiry.
As your mind quiets, begin to drop in the question, “Who am I, without words? Without thoughts? Without
memories or emotions?” Pay attention to the awareness that opens up. If words or emotions arise, allow
them to be there. Identify them—“thoughts,” “sadness,” or “confusion”—and return to the question. You’re
not looking for an answer. Look past the answers that arise to experience the bare awareness that is your
sense of being, of pure existence.
5. Rest in awareness.
This sense of pure existence is there, and as you practice this meditation, it will eventually reveal
itself. Continue your inquiry, and see if you can gently rest for a second or two in the wordless
awareness that immediately follows the question. The opening into awareness may only last for a few
seconds. If you get hung up on your thoughts, start over: Return to the breath, and the mantra “I am.”
Then, ask the question again, and notice what arises. Stay with the practice for as few as 5 minutes or
as many as 20 minutes. Then open your eyes, and return to your day.