As I mentioned above, this practice is inspired by a mini dharma talk given by Bill Murray at the Toronto Film Festival last year
. It's a way to find a sense of groundedness and home when you feel lost. It's also a way to drop in to who you truly are, below the congestion of thoughts. It's a way to do some internal spring cleaning, right now.
Often, the "dust" that collects in your mind is related to stories you develop about who you are and who you're supposed to be. For that reason, a practice that helps you reconnect with your present-moment experience can help you tap into a more grounded understanding of yourself.
Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Or, see if you can go inward wherever you are right now, just for a few minutes. You might be at home, or riding a train or a bus, or in a cafe. See if there's a space inside that you can tap into.
Start by holding this question in your mind:
What does it feel like to be me?
In Bill's talk, he suggests that you tune in to your sense of your physical body and its weight. See if this is helpful for you, just to notice what it is to have this human body, pulled by gravity, anchored to this spot on the earth. Pause for a moment and breathe as you notice your physical self.
You can also notice, on an emotional level, what it feels like to be you. Bill noted that, when you ask yourself how it feels to be you, that "It feels good to be you." This might be your experience. Or, it might not feel particularly "good" to be you in this moment. You might be feeling overwhelmed, or sad, or anxious, or angry ~ none of which are inherently good or bad. And, more likely, you might feel some combination of feelings that don't seem like they belong together.
Your mind might try to pick and choose and tell you that you can't feel both relieved and anxious, or both angry and sad. But whatever feelings you have in a given moment, they all belong. They show you what it feels like to be you. No need to curate your feelings and settle on the ones that you think belong. Just let yourself recognize what it feels like to be you, in this moment right now.
Try naming the feelings to yourself. You can also write them down or type them into your phone or tablet. It can be a kind of inventory-taking; a way of letting yourself know, more deeply, who you are in this moment.
When you allow whatever feelings you have to register, you also allow yourself to feel more at home right where you are. And you allow yourself to be curious about and surprised by the truth of who you are. There isn't some other place to be, some other person to strive to be. You can just be here, as you are. Right here is good enough. Home is right here. However you feel, whoever you are. Home can't be anywhere else but right here. Because you find home by being you; the fullest expression of you.
It may seem like a contradiction to say that you can do some internal spring cleaning by allowing even more of your feelings to register. But I find it to be true. With this practice, you are relating to yourself with curiosity and warmth. And in doing that, you are returning to an essential aspect of what it is to be human: to experience the flow of compassion.
It's not your feelings that leave you feeling alienated from yourself and emotionally congested. It's usually the stories and beliefs you have about what you're supposed to be feeling or experiencing. The feelings themselves come and go if you give them space and pay attention to the full range of your emotional experience, rather than becoming preoccupied by certain feelings and ignoring others.
So, what does it feel like to be you?