By Laura Mills
“Mommy, where’s a person’s name?”
I looked at my daughter, confused. “What do you mean?”
“I mean…is it in my head? Is it in my body somewhere? Where can I find my name?”
Finally understanding the question—and amazed at this rather profound thought of my four-year-old—I answered: “Well, your name isn’t a thing that’s inside you. Like if I looked in your mouth, I wouldn’t see anything with your name on it.” I considered. “I suppose your name is a thought in your mind, because when you see it on paper or hear someone say it, you know it’s you.”
She seemed satisfied with this answer…but I wasn’t. Where’s a person’s name? Where’s a person’s identity? Where is the part of me, for example, that differentiates me from the next person…the next woman, the next mom, the next yoga teacher? Where inside my being is that which makes me unique? Sure, I could list the ways I’m physically unique, or the ways my parenting or teaching style or anything else differs from the next person’s. But compiling a list of attributes isn’t the same as determining where those attributes exist in my being. I’ve seen maps of the human brain with various areas of control highlighted, but even that doesn’t get at the question’s real core. The smallest brain cell—the smallest particle of a brain cell—the smallest particle of a particle of a brain cell; somewhere between all that physical matter and space and electricity is me.
No, I’m not satisfied with the answer I gave my daughter that day. But I think I’m getting closer to an answer that’s more the truth. My being is in the breath that I focus on when I close my eyes and inhale/exhale. And it’s in the synching of my breath and body when I practice on my mat. And it’s in the vibration within me at the end of my practice as I settle into Savasana. I don’t at present have better words to describe it…but I know I’ve caught glimpses of my being in these places, at these moments. I’m on the right track, and I’m hopeful that someday I’ll know just how to explain it….