Entries in Identity (1)


Conduct Calm in Chaos


This is the 5th article in the series "What are you really acting out(in your daily life)?", summaries and contemplations on Chapter 2 of the Advaita Life Practice, by Jayant Kalawar.


The 5 elemental energies are always shifting around us. Earth, water, fire, air, ether. Disruption, chaos, lift, destruction -- snow-- slip -- surprise.

Can we recall a steady state of balance in a chaotic world?

Adi Shankara’s “Nirvana Shatakam” (Six Verses to Nirvana (formlessness))  is a meditation through manas (mind, a lake of thoughts, processing station), buddhi ( most subtle aspect of the human manifestation), chitta (detailed memory-based programmed instructions - e.g. if hot, don’t touch), and ahamkāra.

One of my favorite offerings before entering studio practice….

The challenge we have is to function in a balanced manner so we can flourish as our highest selves in this lifetime. This requires navigating a constantly shifting external environment. Though at first that seems to be a vague mouthful, it becomes clear with intention and practice -- as we already have all of the information we need within ourselves.

It is a matter of beginning a journey towards becoming masterful of the internal realm -- towards a language of the subtle plane -- by developing or practicing techniques to soften and transform a modern world that is defined, trapped, and informed by external impressions as Identity.

What informs Identity?

The ahamkara function produces the “I - am” vibration we often use to name our world with. When the ahamkāra is a traffic cop -- a sieve of daily experience -- doing its best to digest the input and output signals, the system is said to be in balance: what is called  “steady- state” or “inner Peace” or Observer.

A state of peace demands constant navigation and practice throughout the day. When we are making: cooking, creating, dancing, gardening, chopping--anything requiring close attention--we understand steady states for passing moments. Awareness rises and falls. When we practice subtle techniques, tools for internal exploration, we can harness this awareness to strengthen and expand our life experience.

The pure “I am” aham vibration together with an attached thought (I am a boy; I am a girl; I am hungry; I am happy) triggers actions and expressions by the physical body, in the physical space. We begin to grow identities in this manifestation by associating solely with memories of physical experiences and divorcing them from the subtle plane of existence -- from getting to know our true nature as creation. 

Ahamkāra attaches itself to certain specific inputs, outputs and impressions in the memory (chitta), and overrules the detached awareness capability of the buddhi -- and what is called Ego (loosely) begins to rise. Our “I am” vibration is performed in the play of opposites.

We act the drama of likes and dislikes based on our attachments and formations to past experiences, and favor certain experiences as pleasure and others as pain.

The dynamic of attachment initiates imbalance. Imbalances take root and an autonomous ego identity forms. Identity deepens through persistence in time and identification with material objects.

“I was or did such and such five years ago so I am this now.”

“Someone did such and such to me and I liked it.”

“Someone did this to me and I did not like that.”

“I am the owner of this Thing so now that Means Something.”

“I do not have That so I Lack.” 

This is not to say that layers and multiplicity of performed identities (and histories of identities) as we understand them in our daily life, in our hyphenated categorical English interpretation, lack in importance and value. Pains and sorrows arise from histories repeated through linear space-time understandings large and small -- histories of trauma; colonization; violence; histories of invalidated identities; histories of superiority as well as inequality; unemployment or isolation; family legacies or what is named Failure.

Repeated repetitions of the sorrows held from the experiences of external identities express as illness, disease --Imbalance --  on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual plane.

As we begin to flesh out our subtle worlds as expansive places of interconnected energies, we begin to unlearn, re-understand, heal, observe the various roles we are playing in our waking life -- and transcend many barriers we might be holding against ourselves. 


As we balance within, and enter into an expansive healing process, we can welcome freedom and possibility in our life. We name ourselves Sacred. We name our land Sacred. We name each other Sacred.


Detail of "Floating Faces on Plywood" 4ftx10ft on display at the Athena Center@Barnard College, copyright Anuva Kalawar.

What Can We Do When We Stumble(in a chaotic world)?

The response to this question – how we should act when we stumble in the theaters of our life – is also quite specific in the Bhagavad Gita, and serves as one basis for Yoga and Advaita:

1. Practice humility.

2. Practice actions that do not cause injury to our self, others, Earth.

3. Let go of grudges and resentments.

4.  Value the fruits of each experience while not attempting to ensure the persistence of experience of transient physical pleasures.

The Bhagvad Gita states it is necessary to take a relatively introspective approach to life and focus on becoming aware of and discovering one’s subtle nature. We are asked to do so by being even-minded about pleasure and pain and what is desirable and disliked. This applies to all the roles we play in the myriad fields of activities we engage in: from being a child, a parent, partner, employee or leader, colleague, sibling, or friend.

Building the language and vocabulary for our inner worlds through expansive subtle practices such as breathing, yoga, and meditative technqiue, in addition to understanding and deconstructing the histories of identities we play in the outside world, allow us to reach and co-create a more open, flexible, blissful understanding and experience of our world.

Treat and transform trauma into raw fruits, sweet healings: Creation for a moment we haven’t met yet.


Advaita Life Coaching offers extensive guided meditations and visualizations in addition to mantra yoga (chanting), pranayama (breath yoga) and chakra balancing in the framework of a nourishing coaching process developed by Jayant Kalawar.

Ancestral yogic practice, pranayama, philosophy, and physical asana combined with precise understands of the modern physical, emotional, and spiritual climate in the 21st Century.

These powerful and transformative workshops can be in person, over Skype, email, or over the phone. We also host workshops and meetings in NYC and NJ. 

Support self-published, intergenerational, ancestral creation and healing in the 21st Century. Get your own copy of the Advaita Life Practice, by Jayant Kalawar, and be calm within. 

Peace and thanks for reading!