Lose Yourself, Gain the World by Mark Walstrom

Since the beginning of religious life there have been prophets, sages, masters, and teachers who have extolled the virtues, if not the necessity, of losing oneself as the way to happiness and true freedom of living. How, then, can you lose yourself and gain happiness and freedom now? Surprisingly, it is both simple and accessible to all who want it.

There are many names for losing yourself in such a way that you are truly free: The Heroes Journey, transformation, conversion, metamorphosis, The Road Less Traveled, shadow work, death and resurrection, contemplation, salvation, The Narrow Way, enlightenment, drala, Wu Wei, and many more. But naming it is only the first step. The challenge is to consciously live the experience of losing yourself in day to day life.

If losing your self to gain happiness and freedom is your preferred manner of living, then it is necessary to first understand what happiness, freedom, the self, and your truest nature are in this context. The self is who you think you are...your persona. It is not your truest nature. Your entire reality is built upon a premise of a self. Like many others, you probably have invested a lot of time, energy, resources, as well as enlisted the help of others, in constructing an identity (self) that you believe will bring attention, approval, success, and worth. While living through the mask of the persona can generate pleasurable experiences, positive social benefits, and is an inevitable part of human development, it is only a shell of what is possible and cannot bring you true happiness and freedom. Further, when you unconsciously accept the limited confines of the artificial personality as reality, it is impossible for you to live from your truest nature. In order to access and live your truest nature, you will have to “lose” your self.

Nature, if allowed to be in its organic state, is pure life. A tree is a tree, a flower is a flower, an eagle is an eagle, an atom is an atom. Each plant, animal, cloud, river is distinct and an expression of its truest nature. There is no confusion of identity...no conflict. Everything is connected, therefore, everything matters. You also are part of the web of life...you belong to the natural order of life. Your truest nature is the core of your being...your essence. It is the creative spark of life that enlivens your words, actions and gestures...an intimate and empowering interface between the source of life and all humanity.

You'll know you are living from your truest nature when, in spite of continued external demands and pressure, your thoughts, emotions, physical being, and breath are in congruence with each other. You experience a flow state. You make conscious choices rather than habitual, conditioned, and unconscious ones. There is a quiet and natural presence that emanates from you. Nothing is lacking. Your truest nature is the unique and generative expression of life force energy flowing through you in every moment. Losing the self makes it possible to access and live your truest nature.

Happiness, from the perspective of the self, is usually associated with the accumulation of things, expectations that are met, personal achievements, or pleasurable moments; graduation, marriage, birth of a child, job promotion. But true happiness is more of a natural state of being than a possession, result, or isolated experience. Happiness is the joy you feel as you live and express your truest nature. Greater levels of happiness are continually possible as you evolve into deeper levels of your truest nature. There is no limit to your happiness because there is no limit to your truest nature.

Freedom is the birthright of every living being. It is not something you have to earn and does not require authorization from anybody else. You can literally be imprisoned and still be free. For the most part, though, your freedom is diminished or lost not from external influences but when you live from the unconscious limitations and survival strategies of the self. You will experience the vast qualities of freedom when you are awake and live from your truest nature.

Losing, in this context, appears to be a verb that implies action...something you have to do. However, in reality, losing your self involves doing nothing. You simply live in direct experience of the present moment and what is. There is no effort required, no struggle or urgency to make something happen, no destination to reach...no instruction, theory, cosmology, doctrine, or dogma to follow...no degree or credential necessary...no religious or non-religious affiliation to claim ... no need for beliefs, nothing to improve, fix, analyze, or resolve. You simply wake up and live the truth of your being in each moment rather than live from the unconscious, limited confines of your persona identity. Without a self, your truest nature unfolds moment by moment and you gain expanding access to all that life has to offer. Doing nothing is a surprisingly active and full place. You are real, vulnerable, transparent, and in conscious, intimate relationship with others, the present moment, and the web of life. In other words, you are awake, acutely alive, and in love.

Waking up, like losing, suggests there is something you have to do in order to wake up. However, when waking up from a state of physical sleep you don't do anything to wake up...conscious connection of the present moment simply comes into awareness and eventually your eyes open. Waking up is simply coming back to the moment...having direct contact with the actuality of life....including uncomfortable feelings. You are here now...and now...and now. Living in the persona is akin to a sleep state and creates frequent disconnection from the present moment by way of limiting and often unconscious beliefs about who you think you are and what life is all about. Many moments of your life pass by without actually living them...you are not engaged but in auto-pilot mode. There are beliefs about life and there is direct experience of life.

Losing your self can be emotionally unsettling and temporarily disorienting because you've been attached to your personal identity and all of its survival strategies for the greater part of your life. Without a fixed identity, there is a collapse. You may experience a sense of being confused or lost which creates imagined fears. The shadow side of your life will surface...all that has been repressed, ignored, denied, and judged. Pain is the messenger. The message is to wake up. We cannot hurry it or end it. It happens in each moment and for a lifetime.

If you choose to lose your self, it can be helpful to find and befriend a living companion guide or healer who has first-hand experience of living from their truest nature and can help you remember who you truly are as you go through change. Even somebody who is living just a little bit more from their truest nature than where you are living can help you see what is possible. A true healer is a mid-wife of consciousness...offering a wake-up call and a mirror to see reality...pushing at the edge of your understanding. The healer cooperates with the natural movement of life... helping you lose your self with ease and grace and discover a life of heart and soul.

In the end, whatever you name it, losing your self is an inner practice of becoming...the gradual evolution from infancy to mature union with life itself (God). It is an initiation toward a new way of living that is profoundly simple, original, and alive. Life is dynamic and free, spontaneously arising and then falling away, impermanent. To that end I offer my wholehearted support to help you awaken to your truest nature. My ultimate purpose is to serve as a guide for movement in the direction of that which is within you, and every one of us, and which we must discover for ourselves.