Imagine living each moment deeply connected with your True Self—that core part of you beyond your doubts and fears, beyond your small self and false ego, beyond the scattered thoughts and emotions that often bombard and confuse us.
Imagine feeling connected to and part of God—the Eternal Source of all living beings—and receiving guidance and divine love from the Creator.
It’s possible to live from your True Self, knowing without the need to understand that you are part of the One who created and is continually creating the mystery of you.
But what is our True Self, and how do we find it?
What’s Our True Self?
In the Christian tradition, the True Self is defined as this:
“The True Self is who you are because of the divine indwelling, the Holy Spirit living within you (Romans 8:9). This is the only solid basis for human sacredness and for universal belonging. We are all mobile temples of God, says Paul (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:16).”
The Hindu tradition calls the True Self, our eternal Self—our Atman.
Atman is the unchanging, eternal, innermost radiant Self unaffected by personality, unaffected by ego. Atman is our soul.
Seek and You Will Find
Our wisdom teachers say the first step on the journey to our core is to seek our True Self. Set your inner compass toward the adventure of discovering who you are. Scripture echoes this invitation: “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7b).
Perhaps the most direct way to find our True Self is to unplug from the world, sit face-to-face with God in the quiet each day, and let our minds sink into our hearts as we listen at a deeper level—as we wait with open hearts to hear the whisper of the Divine remind us of who we are.
Deepak Chopra writes this in his article, “Find your True Self Through Meditation”:
“Through meditation, we gradually bring harmony, laughter, and love back into our soul and, in the process, rediscover our unconditioned self, which can never really be lost.”
Our culture sometimes calls meditation useless, unproductive, a waste of time. The secular world doesn’t understand its purpose. Some people start a quiet time or meditation practice, but soon abandon it when the mind wanders too much.
Once considered the domain of hippies and Buddhists, the age-old practice of meditation is enjoying a surge in popularity as millions of people look for ways to find relief from the constant distractions of a fast-paced, social-media frenzied world. (See the Linked-In Article: “Meditation Makes a Comeback).
Dutch Catholic priest Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) admitted he sometimes struggled in his personal time of prayer. Yet, he claimed it was the most important part of his day. It was life-giving. He wrote:
“Why should I spend an hour in prayer when I do nothing during that time but think about people I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read, and books I should write, and thousands of other silly things that happen to grab my mind for a moment?
“The answer is: because God is greater than my mind and my heart and what is really happening in the house of prayer is not measurable in terms of human success and failure.
“I might think that each hour is useless, but after thirty or sixty or ninety such useless hours, I gradually realize that I was not as alone as I thought; a very small, gentle voice has been speaking to me far beyond my noisy place.”
In the daily quiet, Nouwen said he was transformed bit-by-bit as he came to know himself, embraced, and taught that we all are: “God’s Beloved.”
When we spend daily solitude with the Creator, our connection with the Divine deepens. Our relationship with God is no longer an abstract idea or something someone has told us about—but a real, felt-experience. We come fully in contact with our True Self because we’re no longer experiencing it through the distorting lens of our personality.
Three Tools for Your Quiet Time Toolbox
There are many ways we can spend our quiet time with God. Some are listed on the handout I’ve prepared titled, “Lord, Teach Us to Pray As You Do.” You can download it for free by clicking here.
The important thing is to become like Goldilocks—taste and experience several ways of meditation—and choose the ones just right for you, the ones that give you inner peace, calm, and insight into the truth of who you are.
Here are three tools for your spiritual toolbox that can let you drift into that deeper, inner heart-space and discover the mystery of your True Self in God.
Breathing in and out
Thich Nhat Hahn in his book, The Art of Power, says that our breath is the Spirit of God breathing in and through us. When we draw our awareness to our breath, we tap into the inner power of God.
As we focus on our breath, the mind quiets, it connects with the body, and sinks into our hearts where we can meet God.
By gently following the breath and speaking the word “in” as we inhale, and “out” as we exhale, we create an inner space for God’s insights and guidance to seep in. We create room for the Holy Spirit to offer us a calming presence, a deeper knowing beyond understanding of who we are and who God is. We let go and let the Creator have his way within us through the Divine’s all-embracing love.
Here’s a guided meditation you can use to enter into the quiet through your breath: Circle of Breath Meditation.
Letting a word or phrase find you
As Nouwen acknowledged, our time of prayer is often riddled with a stream of thoughts. Like a boat drifting on a lake without an anchor, those thoughts can carry us away unless we have an object to focus on and ground our minds.
We can center ourselves by asking God for a word or phrase to carry into our quiet time.
It might be a simple word like “love.” It could be a phrase such as “be still.” Or perhaps it could be an image, such as the vision of God holding us with Divine arms.
The word, phrase, or image draws us into the heart, the place where God dwells—the place of the Divine—within each of us. It is our inmost being. In our hearts, we connect with our soul.
Whenever our minds wander, we simply return to the word, phrase, or image, letting it anchor us so we can sink back into our heart.
Eventually, the sacred word might become an anchor during the ups and downs of daily life. During the day, when we return to our word or phrase, we can take a moment to rest in God, letting the Holy Spirit flow within us as the energy of Divine Grace.
Here’s a link to a guided meditation to enter the quiet with a sacred word or phrase: Centering Prayer Guided Meditation
Asking the questions so you can live into the answers
The poet Rainier Maria Rilke once wrote:
“Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rilke’s words remind us that bringing our questions to God, especially during our quiet time, is a way we can seek the Creator’s wisdom and guidance.
We can take deep questions to the Creator such as, “Who are you, God?” or “Who am I? Why am I here?” or “Why do we suffer?”
We can also take our day-to-day worries and concerns to God as we seek guidance and direction for resolving a conflict or solving a problem at home or work.
By asking the Source of Truth for the answers to our questions, we plug into the profound wisdom of the Supreme Being who knows and see all things much better than we can with our limited minds. We tap into a source of universal truth far beyond us.
In my quiet time, I often check-in with God with simple questions. “Am I on the right track?” “What are you teaching me through this life experience?” “Will you help me live into and from my True Self?”
Over time, as I ask these questions, I listen more deeply to the voice of love and trust the whisper the Holy Spirit sometimes brushes upon my heart. I find this Source of Infinite Wisdom invites me to lie down in green pastures; leads me beside the still waters; restores my soul; and guides me into the right paths. Sometimes I even hear God tell me who I am.
In those sacred moments, tears of joy, even bliss, fill my eyes. I look up to the heavens and know without understanding God is real and with us.
An Advent Invitation
As we enter the Advent Season, consider taking up the time-tested tools of meditation in whatever fashion is just right for you. Spend daily time sitting in the quiet, opening your heart, listening for the Voice of Love.
If you need a jump-start, I find it helpful to listen to the ten-minute daily reflection from Pray as You Go at the beginning of my meditation and then sitting in the quiet for twenty minutes or so listening for a word or phrase to rise in me. I receive the word or phrase as a gift from the Creator and carry it into the day.
How do we discover our True Self? Perhaps our meditation practice leads us to that place we call our soul—the place where we come Home to our True Self.
—brian j plachta
Join Us for this November Webinar:
Imagine living each day with a Spirit of joy and gratefulness.
Whatever happens throughout your day—good or bad—you receive as a gift and lift up with gratitude.
You have the tools to turn off the noise of the grouch monster and change the channel to gratitude.
You experience inner peace, happiness, and deeper wholeness.
That’s what the power of grateful living feels like!
But our noisy, chaotic world throws scud missiles of negativity at us. People’s bad behavior annoys us. Fear and anxiety plug the flow of natural joy and inner peace.
There must be a way to find and sustain the power of gratitude in our daily lives.
And there is!
Join me for a free webinar and discover 3 “gratitude-ing” practices you can use in your daily life to find and sustain the flow of grateful living and live your best life.
Here’s the three keys to Gratitude-Ing you’ll discover:
Key # 1: How scientific research confirms that the regular practice of gratitude re-wires our brains, improves our health, and lets us achieve our goals and dreams.
Key #2: Three simple practices you can use at the beginning of each day, mid-day, and before you go to bed to chase the grouch monster away and live in the divine flow of grateful living.
Key # 3: How keeping a gratitude journal gets your neurons and heart flowing in the right direction.
PS—If you can’t join us live for the Webinar, feel free to sign up anyway. I will email you a link to the recorded webinar after it’s done.