Levels of Identity

It was in a first year philosophy class that I first heard the famous Socrates quote “Know Thyself”.  I kinda thought I did.  I was a rural Albertan girl with all the hard work  values of a redneck, the social morals of an activist and the naive dreams of a hippie.  That sums it up right?  Almost twenty years now I’ve sought to embody Socrates words – words that have become an incantation of sorts living just beneath the surface of perceivable thought.  Like any good incantation the pursuit of self-knowledge bubbles up from the cauldron of my unconscious inciting questioning, feeling and understanding.  I am truly spellbound by it and it both torments and blesses my daily life.

I used to spend days in confused contemplation when I would come across philosophers and spiritual traditions that would talk of the “soul” or the “true self”.  I’d lay awake in bed wondering what was meant by spirit, ego or personality.   From where does any of this spring?  And why does it matter?  It was through various spiritual practices, most notably yoga, that the layers of myself began to unfold.  If we are going to KNOW anything we need to have the faculties of perception and experience firing on all cylinders.   Yoga’s emphasis on present moment awareness (at least as taught by my teachers) offered a way into the Self I was inspired to explore from all angles.

The internal expedition has taken me through many landscapes.  I’ve traversed the nooks and crannies of my physical self, getting to know my natural temperament and the simple needs of my organism.  I’ve stumbled over and through my personality to spaces and places of the unconscious – into the subtle body of emotion, image and archetype.  In the last ten years I’ve slowly cultivated a force of awareness in my body that I can only describe as PRESENCE and that yoga may talk about as the Seer.

My identity is an ever unfolding Gestalt – a wholeness of elements that emerge and submerge over and over again.  Some days are flavoured by that inner awareness that soothes and comforts me, other days I’m thrown about by some subtle element of my psyche – the inner critic, an archetype or my own personality.  Amidst this constant sea of change one thing is certain,  allowing “Know Thyself” to be a guiding principle keeps me in relationship to waves and riptides within.  I’ve come to understand that my identity is not limited to my biographical information but to elements that surpass the small self ego.  I believe we have layers of identity and the more we realize these layers the more connected we feel to ourselves and others.  The flower at the gate of our gardens is beautiful, to be sure, but open that gate and an entire and you may find an ecosystem of meaning waiting to be known and experienced.

On August 20, 2016 from 9-4pm at the Willows Rustic Retreat near New Norway, AB we will spend a day in workshop questioning, experiencing and knowing the complexity of our identity.  Through inquiry, movement, breath work and meditation we will explore notions of ego, soul and self.  The intent of this work is to recognize that our small self “troubles” can be couched in a much larger matrix of meaning.  We can learn to gain and be informed by many perspectives on the nature of who we are and the meaning our lives have for us.   When we exist in our small selves only, there is a feeling of something missing.  We intuitively may sense there is something more – bigger, deeper. As we spread out into the many directions and layers of our Self it’s like finally fitting into the clothes that once were too big for us.  Stretching out into our complexity and multi-dimensionality means we own our birthright as intricate beings in an intricate universe.

Please join us for this workshop!  Details and sign up can be found here.