“Finding My Higher Self” is a series of autobiographical pieces written by long-time practitioners of Higher Self Yoga. The stories chronicle their personal journeys, spiritual awakenings, and the discovery of their Higher Selves.
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As far as I can remember, I’ve always been driven to seek greater knowledge and to better understand my purpose and myself. I would ponder the classic existential questions: who am I? Is there more to life than what I know and see? And the most important question, what is my purpose — or better yet, is there even a purpose to be had? Over time, these thoughts took on a more serious tone and urgency. I felt there was so much more to be known and understood, and I was hungry for answers.
I started poring over everything from the classics to existential and spiritual books looking for answers. It was unclear to me what spirituality was or what it meant, but I still found it intriguing. There were many accounts of achieving higher consciousness, and although captivating, these readings did not touch me on a visceral level, and I felt discouraged.
Something was missing. Many authors talked about having experiences that changed their lives. I wanted to have some sort of experience that I could relate to, but I had no idea what that might feel or look like or even where or how to start.
At this time in my life, I wasn’t satisfied and found very little joy in my career. I could have continued walking down the path of unhappiness, but I knew that although passivity may be the easier route, it was not for me. Deep down, I knew I had yet to realize my potential and felt that there was a lot more for me to discover.
My path to self-discovery was both circuitous and satisfying, but like many others, what helped the most was meditation. Although I had read about it in books, it never actually occurred to me to try it. Fortunately, a good friend of mine suggested I try it together with him as he was practicing meditation on a regular basis. With his simple guidance, it became relatively easy after a few tries. I figured I had nothing to lose, and at least it was relaxing and somehow, it felt right.
As I continued with a regular meditation practice, I began to feel more at peace with myself on a very basic yet profound level. It was not a specific feeling I could put my finger on, just a sense of inner peace and quiet that was immensely satisfying and welcoming. My anxiety over needing to find answers started to slowly decrease over time. I felt that something was changing inside me, not just mentally but even physically, and I wanted to know if there was more to this than met the eye?
My First Meditation Class
The friendship with my meditation friend grew and we started to hang together frequenting some jazz clubs in the neighborhood. In our discussions about meditation, he told me about Agni Yoga (AY) teaching, and that there was a meditation and discussion class being held twice a week in the evening in Manhattan. I didn’t know anything about AY teachings but I was eager to learn.
With some apprehension, I accepted his invitation to an AY meeting in a private apartment on the Upper East side of Manhattan. There were quite a few people spread over two rooms, some sitting in chairs, others on the couch, and a few on the floor. The meeting started with a dedication to their teacher and what felt like a very long meditation. After the meditation, there were lively discussions and readings from AY books. After an hour or so, the class ended in a similar way it started, with a closing meditation.
I hadn’t been sure what to expect, but to my surprise, there was nothing that felt strange or off. Instead, things felt strangely familiar and as the class went on, the feeling of being at ‘home’ came over me. I continued to attend more meetings, as it seemed to me that maybe this was at least something to be explored further.
Over time, meditation became second nature to me and I started looking forward to these group meetings. Perhaps it was the group energy of like-minded individuals meditating together that made it easier for me to start enjoying my practice, or maybe it was that I was finally able to discuss the meditation experiences and ideas I had been reading about with a group of people that shared my passion.
In one class meditation, I experienced what I later came to understand was the higher consciousness of my Higher Self. Describing my experience to people in the class, they confirmed it and many more similar experiences of their own Higher Self. Best I can describe, it was the experience of feeling and sensing of shapeless translucent energy itself that started rising within me, centered in the middle of my chest and then lifting away from me. It didn’t last long but it certainly felt good and I perceived it with my inner mind as it was happening. It was an interesting experience to observe.
For the first time, I was starting to really see and understand myself. I started to feel a sense of purpose, and new possibilities began to crystalize. I attended a few more Agni Yoga meetings, but soon the group dismantled and several of us started new Higher Self classes based on lessons written by the founder of Higher Self Yoga, Nanette Hucknall. This small group would go on to become the core of the HSY community as it exists today.
It felt as if I was embarking on a new adventure, one that I was in control of. It was unchartered territory for me, and there seem to be no limits to what I could discover. I found that the process of meditation and working with my Higher Self awakened my desire to combine my creativity and intellectual curiosity into a new venture, ultimately leading me to pursue a doctorate degree in biomedical sciences and HIV research that I still practice today. Finally, I had found and understood my purpose and meaning, which was and continues to be immensely satisfying.
What is the Higher Self?
Through it all, I learned that the Higher Self is exactly what its name implies; it is the Wise Being within that illuminates all of the possible pathways that can lead to higher consciousness. The Higher Self contains the accumulation of the positive knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of each of us. It is also a bridge to the Higher Selves of those that surround us and to the Universe. Science has demonstrated that we are made up of the same physical matters of the stars. This does not take away from our individuality, but rather empowers each of us with a greater understanding of who we are in the context of our collective environment.
The glue that holds it all together is meditation, which is the practice of spirituality and the gateway to our Higher Selves. The act of meditation simply involves sitting quietly, turning your attention inwards, and beginning to unlock, acknowledge, and welcome the hidden positive qualities that make up your Higher Self.
The process of meditation can enlighten you to who you are and what it is that you are meant to do. With practice, the purpose and context of your individual existence will start to become crystal clear, and a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds will begin to manifest itself.
The Value of Experience
Over time, meditation continued to open up many new levels of metaphysical understanding, including many different forms and experiences with my Higher Self. My advice for those seeking to embark on the same journey? Reading is a wonderful source of education, and can give you a framework to interpret your future experiences while kickstarting your spiritual journey. But at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for personal experience. Once you walk down this road yourself, nobody can take that away from you. Find a community of people with the same passion for truth and self-discovery. Humble yourself by embracing challenging situations. Learn firsthand from those who have traveled the same path, but above all, always listen to your Higher Self. It alone knows the path you are destined to travel.
Mario Canki PhD
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