Beyond My Personal Identity…

by meditative - July 4th, 2015

The person that ‘I think I am’ has taken so much time and effort to create and to construct. Layers and layers of self-narrative (i.e. constructs, conceptions, memories, ideas, and beliefs, etc.) reinforced and reified over and over again. Behaviorally, we act out this ‘identity’ of ‘I’- and it resonates out for others to respond- embedding and engraining our patterns to be and to expect- and solidifying our personal identity even further. Narrowly defined, we become confined and enslaved to the habits of our own habitual minds. The ‘narratives’ we hold so true filter our perceptions as they are obscured by memory, conditioning, and expectation. We live by an image and projection of ourselves that eventually falls short of expectation- and that keeps us circling ourselves to reinvent and reify a “self-image” that will stand the test of time.

Minus the filtering of our own ‘selfhood’, there lies beneath all this ‘narrative’ a capacity to experience the ‘raw’ essence of our being… the mystery of our being. In our solitude, we gather ourselves as we transcend the frame and form of our conception and trust the sentience of our ‘bare awareness’ to directly experience ourselves, and our minds just as we are… the ‘is-ness’ of “I”.

With ‘mindsight’, a refined and heightened state of awareness, we move beyond our conceptions of ‘self’ and the highly personalized ‘identity’ we hold so firmly to our sense of being to a state of discernment. It is in this state of meta-awareness– or higher-order awareness where we begin to clearly sense the mind’s activities as they relate to protecting and preserving our sense of ‘identity’. With this meta-awareness of mind, we are deeply attuned to a process of perceiving inward (‘interoception’) in a clear, objective, and accepting way. Without the filter, our lens (‘mindsight’) of looking and examining inward can focus clearly and directly on the mind’s events as they happen. With discernment, our awareness is primed to differentiate the events of mind- and to see and perceive internal representations of ‘self’ as they are. In our mindfulness practice, to discern is to decouple the ‘automaticity’ of the mental patterns (e.g. cognitive and emotional) behind the ‘self-constructed’ identity of ‘who’ and ‘what’ we think and believe we are.

In this Way of being (‘seeing’, ‘sensing’ & ‘perceiving’), we embrace a regular and purposeful discipline of reflection that provides us with insight into the transient, semi-transparent, and relative nature of our ‘personal identity’. These insights also illuminate the essence of our nature beyond historical adaptations and habits of mind to think, feel, and act in certain and defined ways. From our Way of discernment, we shift the very nature of our conscious experience to ‘see’ what is truly of mind and of reality- closely & directly. With the open awareness and free attention of our ‘mindsight’, we disrupt the usual forms of our ‘personal identity’- and in this process of clear seeing, we sense more by thinking and reacting less.

With an observing/witnessing consciousness, we are continually flowing, evolving, emerging, and adapting in fresh and creative ways without the rigidity and confining nature of old, memory-based patterns. A fixed sense of ‘identity’ that often breeds states of chaos and obscurity seems rather incoherent given the impermanent nature of the ‘experiencing’ and ‘living self’.

Take a moment and reflect what happens when there seems to be no point of reference for ‘personal identification’- when your sense of ‘personal identity’ seems to fall away. Does this ‘empty space’ give you a sense of liberation or a sense of falling apart?