08/16/2012 11:29 am ET Updated Oct 16, 2012

Inhabiting the Place Called 'I'

Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining the HuffPost Live community by participating in a discussion. The title for this discussion was, "What Is the Key to Your Happiness?" hosted by Josh Zepps. Guests included Dr. Russell Bishop, HuffPost GPS for the Soul Executive Director, Anne Hill, Host of Dream Talk Radio podcast, J. Ivy, Grammy-award-winning poet, and myself. In the segment we explored whether or not money was a large influential factor for attaining happiness. The overall consensus was that money, although helpful, does not play a significant role in the degree of happiness experienced.

We explored the various factors contributing to happiness; among them were gratitude and an appreciation for the simpler things in life. My personal favorite factor in arriving at happiness is the attribute of equanimity, the space of calm that arises from the deepest place at the core of our being. As the segment was wrapping up, Josh offered me the last word, extending the opportunity to give some advice. Feeling the pressure to deliver a grandiose response, I admittedly lost my own sense of balance, causing me to lose my train of thought and hence come across as being unclear.

My own reactive mind got carried away into Neverland saying, "What kind of meaningful advice could I possibly offer?" In that very instant, the place called "I" inside of me looked more like a little "i." In other words, I forgot to inhabit my own skin, and instead moved into fear, giving it permission to take control. The shift from happy to fear took place in one instant and I lost connection with what I know deep down inside as my truth. I am not the only one who is impacted by a sudden moment of panic or fear: We all are. The subconscious mind is faster than a Chevrolet and rapidly takes off on its own track. Had I taken a moment to breathe and recognize this persnickety function as I do with all my other life experiences, I would have inhabited my authentic "I." As a result of overriding my instinct, soon after the segment aired, I felt tension on my head, neck, and shoulder. In essence, that is where the danger lies; we unconsciously store away the damming effects our mind triggers on us, never realizing where the real culprit hides.

In hindsight it was not all lost; what I got out of this experience was the ability to once more establish a point of reference where my mind was able to discern that I can, in fact, offer valuable advice. I can talk the talk because I have done the grueling work of walking the walk that comes from diligently examining my behaviors in order to create self-transformation and mindfulness. By noticing my own reactions and mental dialogue, I am able to dispel the lies made up by the mechanism that creates havoc inside my head. This cathartic process brings back that sense of bliss and unequivocal understanding of oneness.

The word "I" in and of itself is a very powerful mantra. In looking back, the one piece of advice I wish to offer is essentially a very simple exercise that works like a charm, and here it is:

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Take a deep breath.
  3. Say the word "I," letting it begin at the pit of your stomach.
  4. As the sound comes up your chest into your vocal cords, feel the word vibrate around your heart.
  5. Repeat steps one through four a few times until the word resonates deeper and deeper into your core.
  6. When you hear this genuine "I" reverberate, add the words "am happy" to complete one sentence "I am happy."
  7. Continue saying, "I am happy" until you feel a shift in your level of energy.

Throughout the course of the day, when someone asks the question "How are you?" consider responding "I am happy" in place of your habitual response, and watch what happens. What is true in life is that we are all capable of creating that which we want most, it starts by shifting our mindset. Try it... You may be pleasantly surprised.

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