Taking Off Your Self-Identity

Breathing practices by themselves can bring many benefits, but they need to be supported by fundamental changes in our inner attitudes. To learn how to let go, to exhale ourselves, we need to practice in many ways. Here is a practice that you can try when you go to bed at night and arise in the morning, and that you can learn to integrate into your daily life.

As you take off your clothes to get into bed, have the sense that you are taking off your self-identity, your past, and your anticipated future, and that you are entering gladly and voluntarily into the unknown. Take off your thoughts, emotions, worries, and so on. Get into bed naked both psychologically and physically (if you wish to wear something, put on something that you have not worn during the day). As you lie in bed ready for sleep, there is no past or future; there is only the full sensation of yourself now as a breathing being.

When you wake up in the morning, don’t just jump out of bed mechanically driven by everything that you believe you have to do. Before opening your eyes and getting out of bed, let yourself return for a minute or two to this unknown sensation of yourself as a breathing being alive right now. Listen, sense, and feel. Perhaps you can hear the question: “Who am I?” arising from deep within.

Copyright 2004-15 by Dennis Lewis. This passage, from my book Free Your Breath, Free Your Life: How Conscious Breathing Can Relieve Stress, Increase Vitality, and Help You Live More Fully, is a free adaptation, based on my own experimentation, of a practice I learned from Advaita Vedanta master Jean Klein in various meetings and retreats.

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