“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Last week I introduced the first part of the problem with labels, that by giving something a label it automatically becomes separate. Noticing that something is separate is not a problem, but when we lose sight of the interconnectedness of everything on this planet it becomes a problem. When we forget the fact that we are interdependent on others and our environment, we make choices that don’t sustain us. We get so caught up in the labels of separation that we forget we are more than labels.
So, this brings us to the second problem, who are we without the labels? During sessions with clients I will sometimes ask them to imagine a basket with their name on. We then visualize taking all of the labels off themselves and placing them into the basket. We list the labels one by one as they are removed. When they have taken off the labels I ask them what is left? Almost every client tells me that there is nothing left. They don’t know who they are without the labels.
This is the void that I feel many people have in life. They have forgotten who they are at the core. Our authentic self is the pure essence of our being, but it is covered over with so many labels that we forget. To help some of my clients get to know who is under the labels, I ask them to visualize themselves as a newborn baby. They don’t yet have language to describe the world, so all they can do is feel who they are. I discuss the senses that they begin to feel. It may be comfort or love, it could also be hunger. Without language to label these things it is just an experience. I then ask them to keep those senses aware as they begin to visualize growing up. Without putting labels on themselves I ask them to remember when they felt the most alive. We discuss what that aliveness is for them, when they felt connected to something or someone. Under all of the labels we have for ourselves, there is an awareness that remains. It may feel like love, peace, or light.
Getting reconnected with our essence, our authentic self, is what I believe we are all meant to experience during our brief time on this planet. Some people find that connection in meditation, prayer, nature or in loving a pet. We can only find it when we remove the labels and judgements for a moment and become fully present with who we truly are. That sense of aliveness, love or light is who we are without the labels. We see the world and our connection to it when we take off the labels and become fully present. What would your world look like if you took some time every day to remove the labels?