After college and working to save up some money, I went backpacking for what ended up being three years. Looking back, it was a time for adventure, but also for seeking: I was seeking relief from the anxiety, overbearing mind chatter, confusion, and bloating, that were overrunning my life and my body.
After the usual Southeast Asian routes, I found myself in India, where I learned about yoga and meditation for the first time. I also learned about the ego and the True Self, the basis of the teachings that would go on to have the most profound effects on my life.
Fast forward to now, years later. I just published a book on this subject (called You Are More Than You Think You Are), which explores the power of the True Self. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the biggest keys to creating real peace, fulfillment, and joy across your entire life. And unless you went deep into Eastern philosophy or yogic teachings… we certainly didn't learn about this stuff growing up!
On my trip, yoga masters and rishis (the Sanskrit word for “seer”) taught us that through our peripheral nervous system, we can sense the physical world: a world of duality and delusion. It was a bold claim for sure! In teaching us that what we perceive with our eyes is just some – but not all – of what is around us, these masters explored the ways in which our egos limit us. Our egos, after all, live in this world only, and if we over-identify with this surface of life – what we look like, what we do in the world – we will always feel small and limited. We will always get caught up in our fears; we will give way to anxiety-inducing tendencies like comparison, not feeling good enough, feeling overwhelmed, and intense struggle in daily life.
Beyond this ego-driven mindset is what yogis call the True Self: the formless, eternal, stable, calm, intelligent, wise part of us. It’s the part of us that watches our thoughts, existing beneath all the drama in life. Call it your unique gravitational field, or, in spiritual terms, Spirit individualized inside of you.
However you like to think of it, the True Self is the unique essence that is the real you beyond the surface: You are so much more than your job, the labels you wear, the way you look. Connecting to the True Self is perhaps the best way to get past the egoic anxiety, as it shows that there is so much more than the daily hustle. You start to experience the limitless joy, creativity, peace and love that is available from within you, so you don’t have to try to rely on the unreliable outer world to try to feel okay.
How to Connect to Your True Self in 5 Easy Steps
Connecting to the True Self happens through meditation and stillness, through turning our attention inward, instead of constantly outward. This, in turn, builds real self-connection, which will lead to more and more peace spilling into everyday life. Here's how.
1. Start your day with meditation.
Let’s face it: as the day moves forward, we often have less and less control over it. This is why it's so essential to meditate as close as possible upon waking. Making space for meditation in the morning will help you feel more calm and resilient as you enter your day. It’s balancing attention with your ego: looking out and turning inward simultaneously.
From the Organic Authority Files
While it may be tempting to skip your morning meditation practice from time to time, I encourage you to not give in! Prioritize giving this gift to yourself, and you will be rewarded.
2. Create routines.
While we can control neither external circumstances nor other people, we can control our own routines and practices, which will give us a sense of stability and security. With routines in place, the morning flows without overthinking, an attribute of the mind-heavy ego; instead, we just know what to do.
I highly recommend creating and following a solid morning practice, which includes meditation and drinking a time-tested elixir1 of hot water with lemon.
3. Support your gut health.
When your gut is in balance, it can promote more feelings of overall well-being and balance – a potent antidote to anxiety and connecting to your True Self that's gaining ever-more attention from researchers2, with clinical studies proving the importance of a healthy gut for the promotion of a healthy mind and mood.
I recommend taking SBO Probiotics daily (soil-based organisms), which is an effective way to get the healthy bacteria through your stomach acid and into your gut, where they can work to rebalance your microbiome. (We offer clinically researched, potent ones at my brand, Solluna.)
4. Connect with your body.
When left to spin unhindered, our anxious thoughts can work on an endless loop, breeding more and more anxiety. You can work to break this cycle ignoring your thoughts (at least for a few moments), and dropping down into the sensations in your body. Feel the weight of your feet on the ground, or sense your hips on your seat. Do a body scan to see where there is any tension in your body that you can consciously breathe into and release.
5. Be more, do less.
We live in a society that encourages us to forever do more, push more. Tick off those to-do list items! Achieve as much as you can!
But in constantly keeping up a frenetic pace, we end up fraying ourselves. Making time for relaxing, stillness and mindfulness practices like journaling will help you connect inward. Ironically, these practices will help you feel more of a flow with your “doing,” as you stop forcing and follow your natural flow!