WHO AM I? What the process of surrender revealed…

By Malise Banks

11-minute read

Who are you when you are not doing anything, when you are not thinking about anything, and when you are not identifying as anything? For me this has been a fundamental life question in order to find out the essence of who I really am.

As I went down the rabbit hole of seeking the truth of who I really am, the first big roadblock was that I had to face my fear of death. I knew that deep down there’s something in me that just knows I am more than that end date.  I had to find a way to reconcile this inner conflict. Obviously, I can’t tell you what death is like as the human that I am today, but I know that when I face what I’m afraid of it is never as scary as I think. Through this process I learned that I wasn’t afraid of death or the unknown; I was afraid of what I was projecting into the unknown.  

I used to wake up in the dead of night and be in a panic, afraid of dying and confused as to who I was. It was only when I started to let go of the me that I had been clutching to for dear life, that I began to find my true self hidden underneath. So, I began a journey of surrendering my self-identity, the personality and the programming that had created my filters of perception. The first inkling that I wasn’t my programming was in an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) course when I asked my trainer an important question; “If our personality can be changed through reprogramming then who am I?”

The answer of course was profound. He said that underneath all the hardware and software, I was love. I had to contemplate this idea for a long time because we’re brought up with this very conditional sense of what love means. For most, love is some sort of reward and we get it through deserving. We deserve by doing, producing and achieving. Love is given as we prove our worth through performing in ways that are pleasing to those that we want to be respected by. We do this to fit into society and feel connected. Deep down we all have this yearning to feel connected because the truth is we are connected, but we fall into the illusion of separation.

I believe that our concept of love needs to change. In order to be able to really perceive who we are love needs to become something beyond this three-dimensional understanding. For me, love is the unchanging essence of awareness, keeping in mind that I really feel limited by the human language to describe this. So today, love is the truth of who I am. When I am embracing and feeling who I am from a state of pure awareness, I feel blissful. I feel immeasurable peace. I feel powerful and eternal. It’s funny because I grew up as a Christian and God was often described as this kind of presence.

It’s fine for me to talk about my experience of perceiving myself as pure awareness, but most people need a direct experience to be able to really believe that the core of their essence is love.  I’ve always been a bit sceptical too because, like many of us, I’ve been hurt so many times. I had to get to a point where I surrendered the small me that was fighting to be someone through the perception that I had to earn love.

It wasn’t until, after a couple of decades of earnest seeking, I gave up and concluded that I really had no idea. I finally admitted that “Malise” didn’t have the answers. It was only after this point that I started to have direct experiences of who I really was. I was no longer trying to control the narrative and I got out of my own way. One thing that I have learned firsthand is that when you stop resisting something it stops persisting in your life.

All these old stories and belief structures around who I was that were so prolific in my experience just sort of became quiet for me. I felt like I moved to a new level of discernment, meaning that I could begin to attune to what was real and what was not real. I found that what was not real for me was most of it; to a degree most of what I knew about me was dictated by someone else.

I had heard the word surrender all my life, but this idea of completely giving up everything that I had built up to feel safe in this world, starting with my identity and the way I perceive myself; my name, race, gender, interests, talents, knowledge, skills, idiosyncrasies that I’d collected, the family unit that I’d grown up with, the social systems that I’d accustomed myself to, the achievements, the partner, the pets, the world travel etc. I realised that this self-image that had been created of who I am, made me feel that I had a very limited destiny with limited possibilities.

When we label, we misconstrue the truth. Our language is ultimately limiting. Trying to describe who we really are, we can only use words in our vernacular that we have previously understood through our limited programmed filters of perception. When we self-label we limit ourselves.  When I started to let go of some of these labels, I started to feel more me; the real me that is pure awareness having a human experience. As I moved to function more from surrender and the lens of conscious awareness I stopped needing to be stuck in busyness, the perfect distraction from becoming aware.

Recently I took a drive out to a beautiful hinterland area outside of the urban sprawl that I live and work in. As soon as I started to leave suburbia and move further into this nature reserve with big trees and rolling hills I began to feel better. I felt more like myself, like I was more comfortable in my own skin. I felt I could breathe with more ease and I become very present. I felt a heightened awareness and personal sovereignty over my thoughts and emotions. I felt a level of freedom that I wouldn’t normally feel in my familiar domestic suburban existence.

What if this experience of becoming conscious and present was actually the benchmark for a healthy normal? It’s easy for us to normalize all the noise and frequencies in our lives. We’re very adaptable as humans. We normalise to a point where we end up losing ourselves. I see this all the time in the lives of the people I encounter in my life. My clients tell me that they feel stuck, lost and that they don’t know who they are.  

If this is you, I would encourage you while you can to start making it absolutely important that you go back to regular periods in your life where you slow down and become conscious rather than busy or distracted.  You will find it is during these times that you receive inspiration because you are able to attune to the still small voice that is your internal guidance system.

For me, finding myself required that I step out of the noise of life as a regular thing, building the muscle of what would become a new healthy base state and learning to be okay with that level of quiet and stillness. Rather than becoming a casualty of being unconscious, I’m making it a point to step out of busyness to go to a place of daily quiet. This has been a master key for me to know who I really am.

Becoming more aware and conscious has been a journey of practice in my life. I have had to spend intentional time each day coming back to me. I started at meal times, just before I would eat, closing my eyes, taking a deep breath and surrendering the built-up identity and all the perceived problems and limitations that Malise held. I would imagine completely letting go of my concerns and issues. I’d cut through the noise of my monkey mind and I would come back to “base reality” and remember that I am pure loving awareness having a human experience. Then I would eat mindfully.

When I come back into the room after a moment of surrender, I always feel far more peaceful and integrated, receiving direct guidance rather than trying to control everything. If you’re struggling with feeling lost in this world and finding yourself constantly stuck in a state of frustration, overwhelm, or fear then know that you are simply perceiving things through the image of you and not the real you.

Surrender brings us closer to living in presence. Another way of saying this is, surrender brings us back to our heart. With practice I can now return to a surrendered state more consistently, moving from my head to my heart. I’m not perfect, but it’s much smoother now for me to transition to a state of peace and presence. I believe that this is possible for all of us if we can just break out of our programming and awaken to the fact that we’ve forgotten who we are in the noise of narratives.

Probably just like you, I was never taught by my culture or parents about how to know thyself. I had to make it a life quest and go on a journey to find myself. Through the pain of anxiety and depression I found my motivation to push forward. My deepest passion is to help awaken this truth within my sphere of influence, to unlock the direct experience of finding oneself. In that moment that you surrender and let go of everything and feel that unshakeable inner peace befalls you, you remember that this is who you are. You know it feels right and natural and makes sense. It feels like home. And then you want more because there’s nothing like it. It’s better than anything you can get from this external world.

When I am struggling with this, I journal to provide clarity as to what I need to surrender. To show me exactly what to put down. Journaling has been illuminating, providing me with awareness and shedding light into the shadows and blind spots of my life. It allows me to bring stuff up that’s been hidden and covertly operating. I know that if I can just see the unconscious patterns, I can release them. This is often half the battle; we’re running away from ourselves. If we just stopped to observe some of these shadows, they no longer hold the same power over us.

Surrender is not about knowing the plan, and for me, that was the scariest part of letting go. Surrender really does mean that we may not know what tomorrow brings.  When we try and control things with our limited mind, we’re only able to operate within the paradigms of what we’ve already understood, the input we’ve already received. The National Science Foundation found that 95% of our thoughts are the same thoughts from the day before. So, surrender is about letting go of all of these pre-programmed thoughts and preconceived notions of who we are. We open ourselves up to far greater possibility.

Surrender is recognizing that we are much more than the human personality. I believe that I am a multi-dimensional being having a human experience and that when I am in a state of surrendered presence, I have direct access to the source code, to all that is. Here is where I can access intelligence, wisdom, guidance and intuition. This philosophy has served me well and led me into a life of flow. In this state I clearly know that I am not my programming. During these moments of total surrender, I do not operate with any kind of busyness, control, distraction, judgment, and limited self-identified wounding and trauma.

My gradual journey with surrender has led me into setting up my own practice as a life coach and counsellor but with an intentionally surrendered approach. My motto is, “master the mind, and live in the heart”. I dream of eventually getting to the point where every waking moment is a surrender and not just intermittently as I remember. It’s been wonderful because there’s always more opportunities to surrender. Life is becoming more of a pleasure in this process.

A while back I was in a social situation and realised that when I got home, I felt exhausted and that I’d been kind of unconscious during conversations, lost in the triggers and limited mindset of Malise. I surrendered the question, “How can I bring in surrender in the middle of conversations so that I am in presence and not lost in unconsciousness?” I was shown the answer was to just take more deep breaths between listening and speaking and remember in those moments of pause who I really am. What amazed me as I started this practice was that the words that would come out of my mouth after these pauses were always received so well. This is now how I approach my coaching and counselling practice with my clients. I fully surrender before the client arrives so that the Malise personality gets out of the way and I can be a channel for love, higher intelligence and wisdom.

The biggest lesson I have learned about surrender is that there is nothing to be achieved here, there’s nothing you need to do to get to this state. Quite the contrary, it’s really about letting go of everything that’s blocking your perception of knowing who you are. It’s about letting go of the self-image, the programming, the belief systems, the striving, and the fear. Fear is the big one. Fear is the wounding that we’ve grown up with that’s created a limited lens of perception and a state of repression. I find that for clients who struggle with surrender sometimes we need to face these wounds first before we feel okay to let go and open the heart. I found that when I faced my deepest fears, only to find them not nearly as scary as I had thought, the ability to return to my heart became easier. During my darkest nights of the soul, journaling would illuminate these elephants and help bring them up into the light so that I could let them go. My heart was finally released from the locked down state that my mind had perceived was keeping it safe.

The phrase “Know thyself” is a ‘Delphic Maxim’ from an ancient time, perhaps when we still remembered who we really were. The phrase was etched into the entrance to the Temple of Apollo. I believe that surrender is the key to walking through that door and finding ourselves on the other side. I hope this helps to awaken the truth within you too so that you can shed the illusion of the programmed self-image and step into a powerful life of presence, peace and flow.

If you need some help becoming conscious as to what may be keeping you unconscious, please reach out to me today. I am currently offering 1-hour virtual sessions via Zoom. Book here: https://boostofjoy.com.au.

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