Who Are You? Meditations to Help You Access Your Inner Self

“Fortune and disaster do not come through gates, but man himself invites their arrival.” ~Chinese proverb

There is no doubt the Universe is vast and mysterious. But if you wrap your mind around the concept that everything in the universe is a manifestation of “Qi,” or life force energy, you begin to discover Who You Really Are.

Most people are focused on achieving. We’re recognized and rewarded for what we do rather than how we behave. In The Road to Character David Brooks calls Western culture “the Big Me,” a social fabric and mindset obsessed with external success and labels. For example, I am a teacher, entrepreneur, business person, martial arts fighter and all-round awesome, good-looking, fit guy. My wife is also extremely hot. <wink> We want to be the best, be on top, be number one, own it all. Mine!

But have you noticed that “résumé virtues” – wealth, fame, status, job – rarely show up at funerals? (Stay with me.) Author David Brooks calls “eulogy virtues” – kindness, bravery, honesty, faithfulness – traits that shape the core of our being. How we treat ourselves and others shows people Who We Are, no matter the kind of car we drive or how big (or small) our home.

[Alzheimer’s Took a Lot, But It Couldn’t Take Love]

Want to judge how well you’re really doing in life? Look at the state of your relationships. How connected are you to yourself, your spirit, your family, your friends, your community, your country, your world? How much joy and kindness are in your life? Just like in kindergarten: how good are you at sharing your toys, playing nice, saying sorry, making friends, laughing until your belly hurts?

If you are not what you do, then who are you? This is a deep philosophical question that has been asked by men and women for centuries. Here’s my attempt to answer that BIG question with a true short-and-sweet story. (Please note the names I use are are pseudonyms and some parts of this story have been changed to protect people’s privacy.)

Claire’s elderly father, George, is a WWII veteran. George is in a long-term care facility because he suffers from Alzheimer’s and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He’s unable to speak clearly and his memory of Claire is fading fast. When Claire comes to visit her father, George is often agitated, aggressive and speaks to Claire, if he speaks at all, as if she is a nasty nurse or sneaky orderly.

[How to Deal With the 3 Most Painful Situations Alzheimer’s Caregivers May Face]

The visits are hard and sad. Claire asked me for help because she wanted to ease her father’s suffering and her own. (Notice how none of our résumé virtues help in difficult situations demanding love, compassion and patience!) Claire wanted her dad to know that she was there and that she loved him. She was afraid her father believed he was alone with no one to protect him and keep him safe. Claire’s heart was clearly breaking and her capacity for love was wide open. I suggested two exercises:

White Pearl

[Why Caregiving Relies on Balance + A Meditation for Caregivers]

Center and Balance Meditation

Claire quietly sat at the foot of her father’s bed and began the meditations. Soon she felt grounded to the earth below and connected to loving energy above. As she moved deeper into the meditation, Claire felt a surge of positive energy travel up and down her spine. After about 20 minutes, Claire completed the breath work and visualizations. She stood up and bent down to hug her father. As she wrapped her arms around George’s frail shoulders, Claire’s dad pulled back, looked her square in the eye, smiled and said, “I see the Light in you, Claire.”

[Like a River: Alzheimer’s Teaches Us to Embrace, Then Release, Find the Beauty in All Things]

George truly saw his daughter.

He saw Who She Really Was.

George would have been able to see who you are too.

For 15 minutes Claire and George talked. They remembered some of her favorite childhood games, family vacations, and giggled as they recalled “characters” like Uncle Kevin and Auntie Gina.

And then, George was gone. Claire’s father faded back into the fog of disease and disorder. Just before falling back to sleep, George asked his daughter, “Who are you?”


There is a time for mastery and a time for mystery. For Claire those 15 minutes with her father are a mystery; a beautiful gift. Whatever it was she accessed by practicing two simple meditations is both mystery and mastery.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

When you want to master life, ignore what most people do. Don’t bother looking to your résumé virtues. Embrace the mystery of life and love and access your true value – virtues like joy, peace, kindness, compassion, belonging. Remember to honor the benevolent Qi within you and around you. When you show Who You Really Are, guess what happens? You inspire the rest of us to embrace a universe as vast, loving and mysterious as you.

Chris Shelton

{Image credit: Jared Erondu, Unsplash}


About the Author

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Chris Shelton is a certified practitioner and teacher with 15 years of clinical experience in Qigong, an ancient holistic health modality that combines traditional Chinese medicine with movement, breath and visualization. He’s helped thousands of people across the United States and around the world reclaim their health and enjoy lives free from chronic pain. Chris has worked with Special Olympics teams, professional martial artists, weight lifters and celebrities looking for deeper meaning in their lives. Chris’ belief in the healing powers of Qigong is rooted in first-hand experience. As a teenager he suffered from a devastating back injury that left him in constant pain and partially paralyzed. He attributes his full recovery to Qigong, a holistic approach perfect for people who want non-invasive, affordable and empowering healthcare.Chris’ work has appeared in newspapers and magazines and been featured on radio and television. He is founder of Morning Crane Healing Arts Center in San Jose, California, and the author of Qigong for Self-Refinement. Chris is often found chasing after his favorite herd of turtles: his wife, four kids and one grandkid. His second book, Ancient Medicine, Modern Miracles: Tools for Healing, Eliminating and Preventing Disease, is currently being read by publishers.

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