Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Truest Thing

It’s Wednesday. On Wednesdays I post a blog, a note, a longer status update. I’ve been doing this weekly for over two years. This week I wrote a few things, but now- in this moment- they don’t feel true enough to warrant time and attention. They’re not untrue. . . . they’re just not close enough to the bone. . . .which is where I like to live and write.

Frustrated, I flip open The Dance to a meditation I put at the conclusion of the chapter titled "The Dance of Shared Solitudes." I want to share it here, because it's about finding, knowing and expressing what is most true for us in the moment. When I am beginning work with a new client I sometimes ask them to tell me in one sentence the most important or truest thing they feel I need to know about them right now.

Of course, what comes when we consider a question like this will change from day to day, moment to moment- which is part of its purpose- to remind us that there is no static solid self that remains unchanging.
While some days the truest or most important thing about you may be about how you are feeling emotionally, another day a physcial condition may take precedence over all else, or a part of your history may offer some essential insight. It would be a revealing daily practise to write such a sentence first thing in each morning or last thing each night- to see the ever-changing flow of our experience and identity unfold before us.

So here is the exercise. I would love to hear what comes for you if you decide to try it and are drawn to share in comments.

Meditation on the Truth of Who You Are

On the last day of a writing retreat I led a meditation asking each person to sit in silence and then write the truest statement possible about themselves. I sat for a moment, expecting to write and rewrite statements that would take me deeper and deeper into the essence of the truth about myself. But instead, after only a minute or two, I picked up my pen and wrote,” I am blessed.” I knew immediately that it was the truest statement I could write about myself in that moment.

Sit comfortably with a pen and paper nearby. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths in through your nose, exhaling out through your mouth. Let the muscles of your back relax with each exhale, feeling your shoulders drop and your weight settle into your hips and legs. With each exhale let go of any tiredness and tension in your body. Spend a few minutes just focusing your attention on your breath, following the exhale and the inhale, the rising and falling of your body. If thoughts come simply acknowledge them and let them go, bringing your attention back to your breath.

Now ask yourself, “What is the truest statement I could write about myself right now?” When you are ready, without judgement, pick up your paper and pen and write the statement that comes. Then, just sit with it. What feelings does it elicit? What thoughts? Be with any thoughts or feelings that come without getting caught in them- just watching them come and go. Ask yourself if there is a statement you could write that would be truer than the one you have written. If so, what is it? Write it. If not, simply stay with the statement you have written. Repeat this process with any new statements that come, simply sitting with the truth you know about yourself in this moment, without judgement. Bring your attention back to your breath and sit with the statements that come and any feelings they raise.

("Meditation" from The Dance by Oriah (c) 2001)


  1. Reading your blog is the first thing I do on Wednesday mornings when I sit down to eat breakfast :).

    This is a great exercise! I've actually been wanting to do something like this since I have a small notebook I carry with me and wanted to find a way to reflect on the day in it by writing something briefly everyday. I didn't want to merely do a gratitude journal since it wouldn't feel "true" enough for me. This seems more real, and it would allow me to write even negative things I felt in the moment. Thanks for the idea!

  2. What a good practise, maybe I`ll try it every day. The first thing that came to me was: I´m so tired. I understand it, but it surprised me, because my life now is better than ever (maybe not compared to others, but in my own eyes). In many ways I feel more relaxed and don´t feel this constant "survival-instinct" moving. I feel stronger physically and emotionally etc (I´m 51 years and last year has been amazing in a physical aspect). Still this sense of a deep tiredness. It´s something with it that makes me cry. After that I felt gratitude, just for sensing the tiredness, as if something opens up. Ok, this is a good practice (I might write about it in my own blog, but if so I will refer to you, I´m from Sweden and write in swedish, so you can´t check me though;)

  3. The Truest Thing I can say about myself right now is.....I am letting go.

    Great great exercise! I am going to use in my life and with my clients :)

  4. The statement that bubbled up while reading your post: "I've been on a long journey."