An Ancient Practice To Peel Off The Mask We All Wear

Oh, the masks we wear: of an “obedient” daughter, an “understanding” wife, a “patient” mother, a “good” friend, a “confident” woman…or however else you describe yourself. Pay attention to the adjectives you use. Therein lie the layers of the masks we wear! Would you dare to simply be a woman? A friend? A mother? A daughter?

Why do we have the need to create these masks?

Do we even realize they’re masks? Or do we so identify with them that they feel like our own skins? Is that why it’s so painful to peel them off? Whether we realize it or not, the biggest reason why we create these masks is to create a self that satisfies the collective expectations of the society around us. We are pack animals and need to use social skills to survive in the pack – the only real skill that’s necessary to survive in society is to fit in. To adapt. To mold ourselves.

Peeling off your mask can be scary to the second ego you created – it might seem like you’re losing your identity if you need to drop your “quirky” self, or the “perfectionist” self, or the “generous” self. Peeling your mask off is also threatening to the society around you – the family that wants you to stay obedient, the organizations that need you to be generous, the corporations that depend on you to remain workaholic.
It’s a whole system of survive and thrive – but of the society – not of the self. This separate self we created is simply a bundle of beliefs, identities. It’s a tangled mess of fears, desires, emotions and thoughts. It’s so tangled up that when we pull a thread it unravels a whole layer of the veil we created.
How to peel off the mask we created?
The only way we can meet our authentic self is by peeling off every layer of this grotesque mask we created. Atma Vichara is an ancient practice of Self Inquiry – it is considered the noblest path to self-realization:
  • Create a list of qualities you’ve always thought you identified with. For example, kindness, or generosity
  • When you journal, or sit for meditation, ask these questions: “who am I when I’m not kind?”, “what do I get for building this persona of kindness?”, “what would happen if I said no to someone who banks on my ‘kindness’ to give them my time and energy?”
  • “Don’t judge. Don’t resist. Don’t evaluate. Just observe.” -Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • Observe what comes up from within when you ask your questions of Self Inquiry.
  • Being able to meet the responses with honesty, clarity and integrity will lead you to your most authentic self.
Dare to become yourself. Dare to be You. Dare to be.
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