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The Usman Institute 

Breathe Right Live Free


Mind, Body & Self

On Concepts and Vocabulary

I am that I am

Who are you?

None should answer this for you. And whatever answer you find, you are so much more.

Here, at the Usman Institute, we share vital tools for you to experience and answer that question.

By yourself, for yourself.

In order to be able to communicate and share knowledge and experiences, it is necessary to have a common understanding of key concepts

"Yourself" vs. "Your Self"

We refer to the "self" without a capital to discuss you as an individual. You exist as a person, as a whole, body, mind, and Self (also called "soul" or "spirit").

The "Self" with a capital is that part of you that's beyond body and mind. That part that connects us to the stars we are made of.

How can we affirm the existence, within us, of an essence that exists beyond our physical and mental existence, beyond the various ordinary states of consciousness we live in, and that we could, somehow, connect to?

The goal is not to convince you. Rather, it is to give you the tools to experience it 


Mind, Body and Self

To simplify your very complex life, you are made of three interconnected parts: a body, a mind, and a Self. 

In other words, you exist in three realms: mental, physical, spiritual.

You think and your mind organizes and makes sense of the world around and your actions in it. Sometimes you even dream and are only a mind, though not a rational one, and you are free from bodily needs and restrictions.

Yet you are not just a mind.

Your existence takes place in a body that grows, lives and dies. You exist in this physical body made of unceasingly moving atoms, a body made of flesh and bones and––mostly––air that lives from your first breath to your last. The mind is tied to the body.

Yet you are not just a physical body.  

Your Self is the soul, the divine essence of a human, different from the ordinary self, the human person. It is what sages have refer to as the "individualized Spirit," as in an individualized part of the One, the whole of the Universe, or Great Spirit, or God, or Allah, or YHWH, or countless of other names that all point to the fact that It is beyond language, beyond the intellect. Naming is essential to live in this world, but it can become a lethal enclosure. We like to call It "the One" but it really doesn't matter as long as you know what we mean.

The Self is that part in each one of us that is connected to the One, and it is individualized beyond mind and physical body.The Self is ever-existing, ever-conscious.


A common image used by Sufis and Yogis is that the Self is like a drop from the ocean, which symbolizes the One, the Source, the All. 

The Self is like an individualized energy signature that's part of the whole of the energy in the universe.

The Self is also called Higher Self. It is also referred to as fractal: it's a part that contains the same character as the whole of the Universe.

The Self is the Divine in us, a part of the "consciousness" of the Universe, its genetic memory.

Mystics of all time have found a much deeper meaning and a more powerful experience by connecting to the Divine. Ordinary folks too. 

Mystics, those who have travelled deep into the Self, all mention that the Divine is unconditional Love, Peace, Compassion, Gratitude, Truth. Anyone can experience these effects from connecting, even if as the lightest fleeting brush––it is enough to change a life. 


One of the most efficient and time-tested method to connect is through meditation.

When you meditate, you consciously put the body to rest, the mind to rest, and connect beyond thoughts, beyond duality. You simply are. All the prophets, saints and mystics who have mastered meditation say pretty much the same thing about this experience.

First, that it is impossible to render into words.

Second, that connecting to the One is beyond space, time, and human understanding, and that everything is One, all connected together.

Third, that a feeling of peace, of bliss, of pure unaltered love, of absolute compassion and uncompromising Truth springs from the one who mastered meditation. In that state, there is no longer duality and differences between things, people, time and places. The individual becomes the universe. 

Twentieth century physics confirmed what sages have said for millennia: everything beyond matter is energy. The energy, the vibrations, the light you carry and emit within the whole of the universe are connected to something beyond your body, beyond your mind, beyond the world of senses and thoughts. You get glimpses of it in your daily lives, and engage in clearer connections when you meditate, when you pray, when you love.   

Mind, body and Self: a neat way to understand what constitutes you.


Three States of Consciousness


Your states of consciousness are like the last three fingers of the hand, so reads an ancient sacred scripture from India.

The pinky, or small finger, is the waking state. Mind and body present.

The "ring" finger is the dreaming state. Body's absent but mind's present.

The middle finger is the sleeping state. Body's absent and mind's absent.

These three states––the waking state, the dreaming state, the sleeping state––are what you experience everyday.

You are awake and live your life through your modes of perception, your senses, your body, your thoughts.

At times you dream awake, at times you dream asleep.

And at times you sleep so deeply you are simply "not there."


That third state, the deep slumber, is an intriguing one. Who is the "you" that sleeps at night?

Everyday when you fall asleep deeply, you experience being neither a body nor a mind.  Your body is asleep, your mind is asleep. In a deep slumber you are––yet you are neither a body nor a mind. The body is resting, the mind is silenced. This also happens to be how you re-energize yourselves. You connect, as if you plugged yourselves to the energy source. You experience something beyond actions and thoughts, beyond time and space. We all do this everyday, or every night.


Three states for three fingers. That leaves the index and the thumb on our hand.

The index is the Self. It is that part that connects to the thumb, when it touches it.

The thumb is the One. The thumb is God.

Yoga––the whole of it, not just the physical exercises called "asanas"––means connecting the Self to the Divine. This union is a message present across mystical traditions.  


The Heart of Yourself

It is the essence of your life, of your rhythm, of your love: the heart.

The heartbeat is life given by breath.

The heart is the symbol of love and the seat of the love one holds. 

The essence of mysticism is love.

The divine flame of prophets, saints and mystics is made of love.

According to them, love is the defining feature of creation and of the One.


As the great Sufi, poet, Muslim scholar and religious leader Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, a.k.a. Rumi, wrote:

"I belong to no religion. My religion is love. Every heart is my temple."

Each category of the Self holds a central question:

The Mind: how do we think critically and act ethically?

The Body: how do we live a healthy, well-balanced life?

The Self: how do we connect to the Divine?

The Heart: how do we love ourself and others?

Each of these categories are interconnected.

The Usman Institute's objective, through its emphasis on self-empowerment, is to help you reconnect parts of you that have been perceived and experienced as isolated and experience your whole person.

The first step to self-empowerment is the will to self-awareness.

Focusing on each of these categories that constitute who you are, what you are made of, allows you to recreate lost connections and, quite literally, to center yourself.


In one-on-one sessions, group classes and corporate events, I always seek to empower and heal one or more of these aspects yourself, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly

As I hope you (will) see, the path to the Self leads back to everyone and everything else. 

When one looks within, one blossoms on the outside too: peace, joy and lightness of being are contagious. One gets rid of the toxicity around and within (and lower emotions such as anger, jealousy, sadness, etc.), one is more detached from past and current influences, more present in the moment. True mystics give and plant goodness to empower others. It is for them a law of the universe.

It is the opposite of self-ish, where the sole focus of every act is a little self concerned with its own personal profit and pleasure. True mystics are peaceful, balanced, joyful, wise and overall in harmony––not selfish nor fanatics, not controlling nor attention-seeking. That is actually an easy way to recognize a fraud. 

This "Oneness of Everything" is the essence of spirituality and of existential solidarity with all living creatures, particularly with those animals, people, and plants that are marginalized, silenced, oppressed, endangered or on the brick of extinction.

When you connect within, you recenter yourself and your world.

In this, there is a freedom and a peace none can rob.

Every heart, every body, every mind, every Self, everyone is a temple.

May our temples be filled with peace, joy, and love.

Peace be upon you,

Dr. Usman

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