One practice that can help free the heart from compulsions is to meditate upon your own name. Begin by taking a moment to listen to the inner sound. Focus on that until the mind is clear and open, empty, and then simply voice your own name internally, whatever it might be. You listen to the sound of silence before, then the sound of silence within and then behind the sound of your name, and finally the sound of silence after you repeat it. ‘A-ma-ro’, ‘Su-san’, ‘John’.
See, feel what qualities that sound brings. It’s only the sound of your own name, so familiar, so ordinary to us; see what happens when it’s dropped into the silence of the mind and really felt and known for a change. See what quality it brings, how it opens up the habit of seeing ourselves in a particular way. It loosens the boundaries.
To our surprise, that name, those familiar syllables, can suddenly feel like the most peculiar, weird formulation in the world. Something in the heart stirs and intuits, “What’s that got to do with anything real?” In that moment we realize that what the word forming our name is usually taken to refer to is actually a quality that is utterly non-personal. Voicing our name in the clear open space of wisdom like this can feel like trying to write it with a light beam on a waterfall. There is nothing to make a mark with and no surface that will provide traction.
This kind of practice can be both slightly disturbing and yet gloriously freeing, and if we do allow it to free us, all that remains is that taste of freedom and the sound of the rushing waterfall.
This reflection by Ajahn Amaro is from the book, Inner Listening, pp. 34-35.