The pre-Lenten season means people are celebrating in various parts of the world. I live in Brazil, and Carnival is in full swing.  It’s time for partying, sex, drugs, alcohol and living life to the fullest. 

carnival full swing
carnival full swing

People have been preparing for months, planning their parade routes, the costumes they’ll buy or make, the masks they’ll wear.

Who are you?

Last night, at the Metamorfose Center in Rio where I work, we decided to take advantage of the Carnival theme by leading a meditation about who people are underneath their masks.  We had people walk around asking and answering the question, “Who are you?” Each time they had to give a different answer, allowing the layers to break down, the masks to disappear.

It was interesting to see people begin talking about where they work, what degrees they hold and who they believe they are; then, by the end, being at a loss for words.  The process of eventually running out of things to say, since they couldn’t repeat answers, forced them to stop and think.  They began to really feel at a deeper level who they were. 

Underneath the Mask
Underneath the Mask

We wear so many masks.  At home with our families, we are one person; at work, another person; with friends, a completely different person.  So when do we take the time to see or know who we really are?

Who are you underneath that mask?

You’re more than a son/daughter, a mother/father, a sister/brother, and more than your occupation.  But who are you?

I remember the first time I was asked, “Who are you?”  That was at a Buddhist temple I attended in Maryland.  I started out responding immediately: a psychotherapist, a daughter, a sister, a friend, etc.  The Buddhist leader prodded me.  Take away your titles, your degrees or anything that defines you, she said, and who are you? This threw me for a loop.  For many years afterward, I was searching for who I was.

self reflection
self reflection

I did my own eat, pray, love in India, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia  – always working on self-growth, self-knowledge and healing – then ended up living in Brazil. 

Today I can say I don’t identify with the labels. The fact that I’m a therapist or work with energy doesn’t define me.  I learned to not limit myself.  We are more than our labels. As Beyoncé put it during her Grammy performance this year, “We are magicians.”  So why limit yourself?

I recommend writing down all your thoughts about who you think you are, until you can’t think of anything else.  Then sit and meditate on that.  See what happens.

I would love to hear from you and about your journey of self-discovery.  What has helped you find out who you are? What do you recommend that others can do to discover who they are? Thanks for reading and sharing.

Renee Adolphe / Prandhara Prem

ReneeAdolphe (at)

PS. Please be sure to leave any questions or comments at the bottom.  I would love to hear and learn from you! I feel we are all teachers and students in this life.