I was watching my daughter last week when we were in Yosemite. She was climbing every rock, gathering armfuls of snow and pretending to be an ice harvester. I stopped to take her picture so when she’s a teenager, she can remember herself as this: confident, adventurous, living in her imagination, wearing a baby blanket as a cape and not a concern in the world as to what anyone thinks about her. It got me thinking about how enlightenment is not a quest for something out there, it is a remembering. Specifically, a remembering of the Self.
Who you are and who you are not
When we think about who we are, we usually name things like our profession, gender, relationship status etc. These things are not you however. They are perhaps current, personal descriptions but they are not your source. We often identify with these relative states which causes a great deal of stress when they change. And they always change. Since anything relative can change, yet you can remain, then none of these things can be you. You can only be what doesn’t change and the only thing that doesn’t change is what is not relative, the one, indivisible, whole consciousness field. It is perceived as your inner witness.
Smriti vs. Samskara
If you remember yourself as a child, depending on circumstances, likely you can remember a sense of freedom and carefreeness that has eroded over the years. This comes from the accumulation of stress in the system over time. You may have heard the terms smriti or samskara. Smriti is the Sanskrit word for “that which is remembered.” It is an undistorted memory. Samskara however, is the Sanskrit word for a memory wrapped in stress like a bagel dog. Every time we have maladaptive response to a demand and go into a stress reaction, we create new samskaras in our system. And these samskara can be stored in the cells of the body themselves. When we meditate, we are releasing the stress from these memories and normalizing our bodies and minds. It is the returning to an innocent, natural state.
Aham Brahmasmi — I am Totality
There is a simple but profound technique whenever you are feeling scared or small or in a cycle of self-depreciation. Think to yourself, “Aham Brahmasmi,” which means, “I am Totality.” By giving yourself a reminder of your true Self, it can help pull you out of the wave of self and into the ocean. And nothing bothers the ocean.
Kristen Vandivier is an instructor of Vedic Meditation and the founder of The Vedic Method and Meditation Without Borders. She is regarded for her ability to make profound teachings relevant to everyday life and her mission of promoting meditation for social change. After completing an intensive curriculum of training under renowned Master Maharishi Vyasananda Thom Knoles, including a three-month immersion program in the Himalayas, Kristen returned to found her practice. She lives in Mill Valley with her husband and three small children.
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Originally published at https://www.thevedicmethod.com on March 4, 2021.