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Don't Label Me

I've been thinking a lot about labels lately, because I support the labeling of GM (genetically modified) food. When it comes to what is in our food and where it came from, I fully support labels. However, I do not like anyone to label me, or to put labels on other people. I eat a plant-based diet and am proud of it, but that means people label me as vegan. Sometimes the word vegan evokes a negative response from others. Other than the stigma that can come with certain labels, the more important reason to avoid labels is that we are each so much more than any label can describe.

Some people define themselves by their job (I am a teacher), some by their family role (I am a mom), some by their belief system (I am Christian). But all of these are just labels, they are not who we actually are as individuals. We are not just a series of personality traits, hobbies or skills. We are each unique individuals who are perfect just as we are.

Most people spend their lives trying to build themselves or 'find' themselves, but no matter where you go or what you do or learn, it all comes back to your inner being...that self that if all else was taken away – all of the labels and material possessions - is still there. Your core. Your true self that doesn't require definition or adjectives.

I know a few people in the yoga community who have taken silent retreats where not only can you not talk, you also can't read, write or even make eye contact with other people. You spend your days in silent meditation with breaks to sleep and eat. One friend who has taken at least two separate 10-day silent retreats explained that the mind is complex and mysterious and you never know where it is going to take you when you are alone with your thoughts for a period of time.

For anyone who has ever tried meditation, you may have had a glimpse of this. When you sit quietly your mind begins to wander and may be difficult to reign in or to understand the train of thought. When this happens, let the thoughts come and go - acknowledge the thought but don't assign any meaning to it or dwell on it, but rather let it pass. Eventually you will find peace and quiet and be at one with your true self.

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