Identity Work Part 4.
Release the Identity Altogether
“Knock, And He'll open the door
And He'll make you shine like the sun
And He'll raise you to the heavens
And He'll turn you into everything.”
― Jalal Ad-Din Rumi
What lies beyond the Identity?
Identity Work, as the name suggests, reveals and loosens blockages within the domain of the Identity, ego, or personhood. It works out the kinks that get stuck in our bodies from our reactions to the dramas of life.
This Identity is largely acquired by virtue of the fact that we are in bodies, each with a unique makeup and point of view. Over time, both our conscious and unconscious points of view adapt and change in response to our social and physical environments, forging our unique Personal Identity.
It is possible, however, to let the whole Personal identity drop away and experience what remains outside of that body-based sense of self.
There is a state of awareness that is larger and more vast than the body-based Personal Identity. It is a place of natural quiet, and peace, and harmony.
It's not some esoteric space. We all have this within, and, in my opinion, it is our birthright to experience it. When one becomes adept at entering this space, doing so becomes as simple as turning towards it and noticing that it's there, because it is always there.
The easiest way to enter this place beyond the personal identity, is to drop all the identity stories at the same time, essentially, "becoming no-one". When we can become no-one, when we can allow our identity to fall away, we become aware of a new dimension of our being.
Of course, this would mean being prepared to release who you believe and feel that you are on a very deep level. It can be profoundly liberating for those who are ready to take this step as the natural progression of their practice.
However, it can be existentially challenging for some people. it would be like trying to jump into the deep end of the pool without having learned to doggie paddle.
(If you have mental health challenges, please do not attempt these techniques without consulting your mental health professional.)
The technique for dropping the personal identity, is known as Dis-identification.
During disidentification, you basically drop, one by one, your identification with qualities that keep you tethered to the body-based reality. You continue to do this until you feel that you have no identifying qualities. You are released from the psycho-emotional fabric of your identity. Your "personhood" is set aside for a moment. You become "no-one", as referenced in Rumi's poem, above.
The process is really very simple on the face of it. You basically tell yourself that you are not a series of qualities or attributes that you normally identify with. For example, you could tell yourself that you are not your name, you have no past, you have no yearnings, no responsibilities, no gender, no race, no age, no illness, etc. By dropping the identification with these things, which you previously believed to be essential parts of you, or disidentifying, you free yourself momentarily from your story-bound burdens and get to experience your human existence in a different way. We become unbound humans.
The most difficult part of this technique is, even momentarily, believing what you are telling yourself. A grounding in Identity Work techniques helps you recognise the psycho-physical sensations of identification with any given quality. You develop a kinaesthetic understanding of where any given attribute grips you. Thus, when you tell yourself that you are not that quality, you know more concretely what you are letting go of and you can feel the moment when you have indeed let it go.
How do I use this with clients?
I use small elements of this technique even with new clients if I see that they are particularly bound up in the grip of their story. It can help loosen that grip and open the field a little bit for a more fertile session.
Personal identity stories can be so overwhelming sometimes that living feels like being caught and bound up in a trap with no possibility for escape.
The more folks believe in the absolute reality of their uncomfortable stories, the more they get tangled up in them, until they can't tell up from down. The more they try to get untangled, the more bound up they get. When the net is too tangled, I have found, that it is best to help them drop the story altogether, even for just a moment, and give them room to breathe, before attempting an Inner Journey.
My favourite use of this dis-identification technique is with clients who have already come to know their Core Theme.
They are naturally ready to move forward and release their stories altogether to experience a great sense of pleasurable freedom.
What does Dis-identification feel like?
These are some pretty accurate visual representations of what the basic experience of disidentification feels like to me.
When the personal identity stories are released, one can more intensely feel that space around the body that you see in these images. In essence, you shift into that space. You identify with that surrounding space, rather than with the body.
The experience in that space is calm and silent. It is like nothing you can imagine from the daily life perspective.
All the mental background chatter suddenly, just stops. You don't try to stop it. You don't even intend for it to stop. It just does. It's like suddenly stepping into a silent room. You find yourself in a different place. The body is still there but the identification with the ego is gone, you detach.
In the beginning, people are really excited just to experience it, as they should be. However, after we have an experience like this, then what?
Welcome Back to Your own Personal Daily Telenovela.
When we are out of the altered state, then, what happens? We forget. We simply re-enter the daily drama of our ego-based lives.
We wholeheartedly believe what our bodily senses tell us. We think this is, in fact, is the most real and important part of living. We have very convincing highs and lows.
We play our role in the soap opera of life and we believe it is 100% real and true. In short, we return to live our lives from the perspective of the ego.
"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players
- William Shakespeare. As You Like It.
Daily Life from the Dis-identified Point of View.
It is possible to experience daily life while in the dis-identified state. However, the experience of life is very different.
The relationship with the body suddenly feels a bit like getting into a car. You would never get into your car and believe that you are the car. It is so clear that the car is a tool, a vehicle, for you to get to where you want to go.
Similarly, when you are in the altered state, you are the driver, and the body feels almost vehicular in nature. You can feel the sensory experiences of the body in a very neutral way. You don't assign them any particular meaning. You can't be offended because you take nothing personally. Instead, you enjoy them as a novelty to your soul. It can be quite fun. It's like entering a virtual reality game. Your body and your life feel almost like that of an avatar.
Yet when we are not in the altered state, and we are living daily life, it's as though we truly believe we are the car and we take every hairpin turn or event has personal meaning.
Closing the gap
In the beginning we swing from one of these states to the other. We are in Ego daily life, and then we meditate and relax into the silent state of the greater self. We drop out of the silent state of the greater self, and go back into ego daily life.
Every time we are in wholehearted ego living however, we return to the suffering, insecurities and fears that are a natural part of this body-based state.
Eventually, if we are to enjoy life, and be truly happy in our bodies, and even feel tickled by the daily novelty of doing the dishes, chopping wood, carrying water... we must bring the peace of the silent state or greater self into the body of the ego based daily life. Some people are naturally united with that greater self. The kind old lady who is truly content to tend to her garden, for example, is most likely naturally merged with her higher self without being aware of it.
Spirit / Source / Higher Self / Silent state experience. There are so many names for this.
Daily life. Daily drama. Ego
perspective. Looking through the eyes of the smaller self.
Merging your greater self, with your daily life can be incredibly rewarding. However, remaining in these altered states, at will, for extended periods of time, requires either grace or a bit of consistent practice.
It's like working out. At first, you might be able to jog for 5 minutes without losing your breath. However, if you do it consistently, you might be able to run a marathon.
Similarly, you need to relax into your altered state frequently in order to make it part of your everyday experience.
When you get good at this, you get the permasmile of the guru, even when doing your laundry. It can just feel as simple as being happy for no apparent reason.