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Awakening from the Dream of Me

An article by Richard Miller, PhD

When I am asked, "What does yoga mean?" I respond that it is the realization of the utter absence of separation. Everything we feel, see, and touch is the Self intimately being and experiencing Itself. The practices of yoga are designed to erode and dispel this illusion of being a separate "me" that currently entrances the mind.

Awakening from the dream of me reveals the paradox that there is no other even as the other appears to be. Everything is made of the same substance. Call it Presence, Awareness, God, Consciousness, or Love; these are one and the same. I, you, we are exquisite expressions of Presence, which manifests as sensation, emotion, thought—the each and everything. Upon awakening from the dream of separation, we are able to exclaim as have all the yogis and yoginis down through the ages, "I am the Absolute Impersonal Presence which is constantly expressing Itself through all that exists."

Presence, Intimacy, and Community

The focus of my work in yoga has emerged from the realization that we all are longing for intimate oneness with Presence. Our longing comes from the Self, which is looking for Itself, God calling Itself back home. Oneness with Presence is the freedom that we are all longing for.

You may believe, as I once did, that you are unworthy, nobody. Every action I engaged in to be somebody was a defense against feeling self-judgment. All my actions to prove myself to be somebody failed before they began, because they were born in conflict. Over the years I learned the art of yogic meditative self-inquiry, to invite self-judgment in for tea and dialogue, where I made a momentous discovery. My fear of being unworthy turned out to be a messenger who was all along trying to inform me that I am nobody because there is no other.

Culture and conditioning had taught me to turn a deaf ear on this momentous understanding. I had fallen into the trance of being a separate me. But now I understood that there is no other. I am alone. I am nobody. Self-judgment denies the fact that there is no separation, except as a projection of the mind. Tea and conversation opened me to unbounded Love and living the Presence that I am, that we all are.

These days, during retreats and private interviews, I help people explore and deconstruct their stories of separation that prevent the realization of oneness with Presence. We engage in self-inquiry during meditation and face-to-face co-meditation and when we gather together as a community. We inquire into the reality of our projected beliefs about Self and other. As these beliefs deconstruct, illusory boundaries of separation dissolve.

As the process of deconstruction and dissolution unfolds, the bodymind begins to awaken as a witness to both the movements of consciousness as well as to its unborn, innate true nature. Awakening as a witness marks the prelude to the ego’s spontaneous collapse into Being witnessing Presence.

In awakening as witnessing Presence, we realize the sweet paradox that our true nature is unbounded Being undisturbed by the movements of life and, simultaneously, that all of the experiences of life—joy and sadness, pain and pleasure—arise within and are not separate from unbounded Presence.

This is enlightenment of the whole body, in which everything is realized to be the Self and the entire universe Its body. In awakening to Presence we behold with wonder, delight, and astonishment the living truth that everything is a perfect expression of the Oneness that we are.

Yoga is a way of living life, a series of continuous micro-practices that lead us back to everyday existence, radically transforming our ordinary life so that each moment is meditation in action, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Daily life is the domain of our practice, where we neither renounce nor separate from anything whatsoever. Presence then emerges in each act of life: walking, talking, breathing, gesturing, sensing, emoting, and thinking. Yoga restores our senses to their natural functioning, awakens us from the dream of me and leads to liberation within life, in which each activity flows from and is realized to be not separate from Presence.


Taste everything;
every delicious ounce
that is of this world
and the next—
suffering and joy,
grief and elation,
despair and the finding
of the One we never left.

—Richard Miller

Find out more about Richard Miller and his upcoming programs at Kripalu.