“Label me, define me, nail me down with cold words and
that box will be your coffin, for I do not know who I am” — Rumi
Using labels to define existence provides us with a tangible experience. Boxing something or someone’s identity allows the observer to have a personal idea of not only what that item or person is, but more importantly to know their self! Rumi has it right in that we are all that is, but in order to fully experience this earthly life one has to be in a box or all is nothing!
Try this wonderful exercise and see how it feels to you. Choose a random moment, pause, look around and say to yourself – “I am That”… “I am”. You could be looking at a beggar on the street, a flower in your yard, or the computer you sit in front of right now. Experience what it feels like to “Be” that item or person. Take your time and let it sink in.
How does it feel? Did you have a transcendent experience? I know I often experience a feeling of connection to everything in the Universe during that exercise, but sometimes I don’t feel a thing. It depends on what I put into it! Taking my time and relaxing into the process is key. A fun place to do this exercise is somewhere you don’t normally go or particularly like being. It stretches the mind and broadens the senses to a point of acceptance, depending on how much you resist the feelings of course.
Where do you find yourself feeling awkward or uneasy? Prisons, Churches, Gay Bars, Tall Buildings, at sea on a small boat, a room full of animals, sitting in your cubicle, _______ fill in the blank? The feedback you receive is insight to your make up and conditioning, but does it really tell you who you are? Now try the exercise in reverse, where do you find yourself feeling safe, welcome, and at home? Your own living space, sitting at your desk, in the arms of your lover, with family, with friends, in a forest, all by yourself, _________ fill in the blank?
Now think back to a tranquil picture you remember seeing, does the feeling you get seeing the picture compare to actually being there? For instance, seeing a picture of Yosemite National Park compare to actually being there? Do you expect it to? The idea is for the picture to remind you of past experiences. If you have never had the experience then the photo can inspire you to visit the place or have the experience. Fantasy pictures are more about invoking an emotional response sense going there is not an option. What does “Be a Unicorn” mean to you? If you see a pretty picture of a Unicorn can you image being the Unicorn? Are you in the Unicorn box? Do you see the purpose boxes provide?
Without a box or identity how can you experience anything in particular? I find being in a box (labeled identity) helps me more fully experience life, whatever that life is at the time. When I was living as a man the box allowed me to more fully embrace the experience of being a man. Now that I live as a woman whether I label it as transwoman or not I have a clearer idea of who I am. I live based on my own ideas of what a woman is, while also feeling my way through the experience. The clothing, behavior, and thought process is very natural and takes little effort on my part.
I have sat in a field and put myself in Tree box, imagining myself to be a tree, feeling the sun, sinking my roots deep into the earth, and feeling the connection to all the animals, insects, and other plants! It is a cleansing experience, one that humbles me, and reminds me how important each living thing is in this world. Without the box though, this would not be possible.
On a side note labels are simply a tool, and can be used to separate you from other things and people. If you go around saying I am not that, or that is a tree and I am not a tree, then the feeling of separation takes over – the feeling of fear sets in. Connection is a feeling of Love and perhaps this is the purpose of the whole exercise! To feel Love! Have fun on your Journey of Love.