Once upon a time, the sound of your first name enchanted you. It was music to your ears. You heard the lilt, the cadence, and the phonetic richness of each syllable of your name.
This occurred because your name was spoken with love by your parents. So it carried the vibration of love, awareness, and gratitude. Your name flowered deep inside, stirred up your life-force (chi), and told you that you were recognized, appreciated, and celebrated.
It’s also likely that your parents may have spent weeks or months trying to find the perfect name for you. So when they spoke it, you could almost feel the thrill of discovery they experienced, their joy in having a child.
What’s more, your name was spoken to your pre-egoic consciousness. When you first learned to speak, you spoke in the third person because the world was an undifferentiated space. Your ego had not yet been created to lord over your life with its incessant cravings.
Before you learned how to think, before you were trapped by words in your head that named the world and limited your understanding through the syntax of language, the sharp lines of the ego had not been drawn. You did not feel yourself separated from everything. You were what you saw, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched.
Your smallest needs were met with immediate attention. Large faces were thrilled at your gurgle and smiles and bright stare, and they were alarmed when you experienced any physical distress.
Then as you learned to speak, the world of experience faded away to be replaced by a conceptual world. Words replaced things. Ideas replaced experience. Logic, when it developed, replaced intuition and instant knowing. You experienced the Fall from the Garden of Eden.
Desensitization to Your Name
If you now consider your first name unremarkable, it’s because you have been desensitized to thinking of yourself as a magical being in a wonderful world. You might even argue that your name is a rather common one.
The first emotional shock you experienced as a growing child was the denigration of your pristine name. It was sacrificed on the alter of social conditioning. If it was spoken in a sharp way by your parents, then it implied a threat. You were about to be verbally, emotionally, or physically abused for violating some rule of conduct that you had not fully grasped.
Later, too, your name may have been truncated, reduced to a nickname. The dance of consonants and vowels, the multiple syllables, the music of your name was collapsed into a single sound, as sharp as a dog whistle that called you to instantly obey the gods who ruled your well-being and destiny.
Additionally, your name was often linked up to your middle and last name, hooking you up to the morphic field of your lineage and your family’s social significance or insignificance. Often, too, your full name was spoken by strangers as a way to identify you and pigeonhole you into a social registry. Welded to your family name, your first name no longer sounded particularly interesting or beautiful to you.
Worse still, your first name may have been entirely usurped by a nickname, one that playfully or affectionately mocked you.
The Blessing of Your First Name
At this point, you are probably wondering about why all this fuss about the emergence and desensitization of your first name.
Here is why it matters: your name is the portal for higher awareness. It is the perfect mantra for you to reflect on in a meditative state.
When you think of mantras, you may think of the name of a God, a guru, or a Sanskrit name full of significance.
But I am here to tell you that your first name is the most potent mantra available to you.
Let me explain by way of an illustration:
Does the name “Alfred,” sound like a deep sound to fix your attention, awaken your awareness, and access the stillness within?
Probably not. It sounds rather unlikely to take you into the depths of your deeper consciousness.
Yet to Lord Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Victorian poet, it was a portal to a higher state of consciousness that is known by many names — “satori,” or “savikalpa samadhi” or “awakening” or “enlightenment.”
Here is how he describes the dissolution of his ego and the emergence of an exhilarating consciousness within himself after he used his name as his mantra.
Individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this was not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words — where death was an almost laughable impossibility — the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction but the only true life. (The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James.)
My speculation here is that using your first name in a sacred space awakens your pre-egoic state of consciousness, the one you bathed in when you were a freshly minted human being, when you were an awareness that had not yet fully blended into the mold of flesh-and-blood, when you were an experiential consciousness that had not yet been restrained by the limits of language and logic.
Try it out for yourself. You may be surprised at the peace available if you treat your first name as the focus of your attention as you meditate, if you treat your first name with the reverence with which you would contemplate a god.
Your ego, of course, may give you a hard time, accusing you of slipping into solipsism or narcissism. Don’t be surprised if resistance to this spiritual exercise occurs — after all, when a prisoner breaks free, you would expect the guard on duty to sound the alarm.
Before you can experience cosmic consciousness, you, as you know yourself, must vanish. The key that Tennyson used to escape was his first name, letting its syllables roll in his mind until he fell into the astonishing silence that revealed he was life itself experiencing itself without the anchor of a form-based identity.