Awareness and Identity

February 25th, 2014

who am IGetting an iPod changed my life. It’s a pocket sized miracle. It carries a lot of music, and a whole lot of me in it. The playlists are like a biography of various parts of my personality. There’s the workout play list; Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Sick Puppies, Bush…it’s all hard hitting and intense. The first time I worked out with my iPod, I was lifting heavier weights, doing more reps and feeling stronger than ever. The difference was amazing. I call this play list “Testosterian.”

Then there’s the meditation play list. It has Sheila Chandra, Gregorian Chants, and various aquatic animal sounds on it. It takes me into a deep peace and I especially like to listen to this one while hanging upside down like a bat. Pure bliss! I call this play list “Euphorian.”

I’ve also got a compassion play list. It has James Blunt and Adele and other tear jerking music on it. I listen to it when I feel  overwhelmed with sadness. I call this play list “Melancholian.”

Me, myself and MiPod. It was kind of Apple to include the “I” in iPod for Ian. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I discovered the shuffle command. Merging all these different play lists creates a smorgasbord of musical surprises.


So one day my various play lists had a battle for supremacy. I was on an airplane and hit the shuffle key. First, one of my testosterian songs played. I didn’t know what to do with all the energy. I started edging my arm across the armrest. No one messes with testosterian. Then just as suddenly, that song ended and James Blunt began. My arms melted to my sides and I began quietly weeping in my seat. “Goodbye my lover!” Melancholian took over. Before I could wipe the tears from my face, Sheila Chandra started crooning in my ear and I could have sworn I had died and gone to bliss heaven. Euphorian took center stage.

This musical ego shuffle went on for some time before I even realized how insane I had become.

I had so identified with each persona that I had forgotten how fickle and changing they are.  I felt like Sybil or actually more like Tara battling with Buck and T in The United States of Tara television series about multiple personalities. Luckily no one was hurt on my little flight with Air Ian. But it was a little musical wake up call. Next time I plan to fly United.

There is nothing wrong with play lists, personas are important and it’s even healthy to shuffle them up from time to time and keep things interesting. But the truth is that people do get hurt when we fixate mindlessly on personas and fixed identities. The need to defend these separate selves becomes a life and death struggle, and is behind so much internal restlessness, relationship conflict, world wars and religious rivalry.

Enough! Life is too short for petty rivalries, whether internal or external. Sit back, enjoy the music of being united, and relish the peace of knowing at your essence that you are intimately related to all others.

All it takes is a little self awareness. Become aware of your multiplicities and idiosyncrasies, enjoy them for what they are, but don’t imagine that any of them define you. You are the sum of all of them, and so much more, dancing between who you’ve been and who you’re becoming in each moment.

Kemmy Nola said,

Between who you once were, and who you are becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place; dance to the tunes of life with great new knowledge.

I’m offering a free one hour video  class on Awareness on February 26. You can join in live for free or else subscribe to a monthly en*theos Academy subscription and have access to ALL the classes, at any time that suits you. I recommend this option. Click here for more info.

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  1. Christina says:

    Ian, thank you for this article, which really made me smile.    Dancing to our own tunes is so wonderfully compelling and very soul nurturing, it’s hard to stop at times.  It’s funny how there always seems to be ‘the‘ song or piece of music which relates to our ‘mood’ so perfectly and how our in-built radar guides us immediately to that place of self indulgence!I have been there so many times, that I am smiling with a very deep sense of recognition.  I actually missed a flight home once, because of my ‘over-identification’ with a romantic ballad on the island of Menorca.  Imploring the DJ to play it one more time, my friend and I arrived at the airport when the aircraft doors were already closed!    Those 3 minutes certainly impacted our lives and in particular our finances, as the next flight off the island was not for almost another week!   The ‘over identification’ with the beauty of the song, the spirit of romance and the connection to past love – was a lethal powerful combination.  I still have a very soft spot neverthess both for the song and my 21 year old self – so ‘stuck’ in feeling.   Memories are made of this.  I so agree that music awakens so much passion in us  – frequently misplaced passion, until we really catch ourselves.  So easy to over -identify or to shuffle through life without awareness, until we consciously choose to make the decision of jump off the magic roundabout of emotions – to stand still, observe life, live life and love ourselves and each other from that pivotal point.  

  2. Bernadette says:

    Beneath the clever “-ians” is a powerful message. Thank you. (Love Sheila Chandra!) I find that I have to watch out for changing my personality to fit whomever I am with at the moment. It’s like being a chameleon instead of standing in my truth. Being united (in my Truth) is so much more powerful.

  3. Andrea says:


  4. Jack says:

    Interesting Experience, Ian.  I can almost literally relate.  I used to be someone who had to control the music wherever there was music to be heard: at work, home, at friends’ houses, etc.  And I always had to have it on, even to use the bathroom!  I had read about a research study in which plants were exposed to the music of a classical composer, Led Zeppelin (one of my favorite bands at the time) & Ravi Shankar.  Long story short, the plant exposed to Zeppelin looked like it was dying, if not already dead.  Shocked by this, I wondered what effects music had on myself.  So, I started leaving my car stereo’s detachable face at home whenever I had to drive somewhere, even long trips.  I noticed that my emotions were more even-keel and not so up and down with every song, just how you describe happening to you on the plane.  That really gave me pause to carefully consider what we’re taking in from our environment as well as how we can hide in things like music.  Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  5. ian says:

    Wow Jack, thats scary. My workout playlist may not be as healthy as I thought. Be well

  6. ian says:

    well said Bernadette

  7. ian says:

    thanks Christina, i enjoyed reading your comment. Keep dancing!

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