In 1896, when Sri Ramana Maharshi was a mere 16-years-old, he had a great spiritual awakening — one that answered the ultimate question of self-inquiry — “who am I?” This “who am I” question refers to the true nature of a soul: after its body dies, after the ego-clinging stops, and after all the breaths cease from moving throughout.
He dropped into the state of enlightened awareness. He discovered his Atman (the true self). Sri Ramana Maharshi went on to become a great spiritual teacher, helping students the world over discover their own Higher Self, their own Atman. And the way he did it, was through the following meditation:
A Meditation for Self-Inquiry
Get quiet and find your meditation seat. Close your eyes and let your eyelids soften. Elongate the spine by dropping your shoulders down your back and sitting tall. Feel your head resting in alignment on your neck and shoulders. Begin to take several long inhalations and exhalations. Allow your seat to drop gently into the Earth. Feel the support of the Earth as you begin to let tension melt away from your body.
Ramana Maharshi’s teachings were very heart centered. As such, you’ll want to bring your attention to your heart chakra — the heart center just to the right of your physical heart. Now imagine that each inhalation and exhalation is coming into and out of your heart. Visualize a horizontal line of light caressing your heart center with each inhale and exhale. You can place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your knee, in gyan mudra.
Now begin to ask the question, “Who Am I?”
It’s as if this question is arising from your heart center, your spiritual heart. As you take long, deep breaths in and out of this heart space, simply wait for answers to arise. At first, these answers might be verbal ones. When this happens, ask the question, “Who am I beyond these thoughts, concepts, and ideas?”
Continue to relax, letting the breath flow freely into and out of the heart. Continue to rest in this heart-centered awareness as you ask the question once again, “Who am I?” As you sink deeper and deeper into meditation, the mind becomes still, and the answers that arise might become more abstract — more of a feeling.
Who Are You?
Ask the question again and again until those verbal answers lessen, and the felt sense of awareness takes over. If this doesn’t happen the first time, return to this mediation again and again and see how the answers might change. While resting in this heart space, ask yourself, “Who am I, really?” Who am I beyond this body, beyond these roles I play, and beyond this personality?”
Take your time with this meditation and practice it often. Wait for your Atman to reveal itself to you.
Have you practiced this meditation? How did it work for you? Share with us in the comments below!