When I redid part of our house last year, we added a small meditation room just off the dining room in the first floor. It's a great space, but it is on the first floor, which means that I hear a lot of the activity in the house.
This morning my kids were playing with the computer. As I listened to the various sounds around me (a passing car, a neighbor's dog, a plane overhead, the vents, the heating system kicking on, my stomach), now and then I heard things like "Look at this!", "I got him!," and "Oh man, you did?"
I was able to hear the other sounds in the house as sounds, and notice that they are not part of me but sensations that come to me and that I respond to. But with my kids' voices, they were almost indistinguishably part of myself. I became a self - ready to relate, help, respond - the moment the voices reached me. Unlike the other sounds, the voices seemed to call a self into being, and there was an instantaneous response (at least to me).
Why? I suppose it's evolutionary. In an essay I really like, Jack Engler asks why we have such a strong sense of the self, and attachment to it, if it is not as real and solid as we think it is. Why is it adaptive to delude ourselves?He says something to the effect of, Knowing how the self is constructed moment to moment can be the source of deep anxiety, and grief; and we create the image of a stable, coherent source of agency in order to manage that anxiety.
Maybe our ancestors needed to it to hunt all those saber-tooth tigers.