The Psychosynthesis Identification/Disidentification Exercise
A persistent obstacle underlying so many of the obstacles that my clients seek to overcome is mis-identification of the self with the personality; that is, my clients identify who they are with the contents of their experience (thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc).
You are not your thoughts, feelings, sensations, roles in life, identity, etc. These are the content of your experience. You, the self, are the experiencing awareness imbued with innate presence and knowing. Thoughts, feelings, etc. are the experiential content of your knowing. Tibetan Buddhism offer this metaphor: you, the self, are the sky-like awareness through which the clouds (content) pass.
Perhaps the first person to present this distinction to Western psychology was Roberto Assagioli, founder of the Psychosynthesis school of psychology. To promote the stable realization of the distinction between self and content, Assagioli offered the powerful Identification Exercise which can be practiced as a meditation.
The meditation consists of four stages: disidentification from the body, disidentification from the emtotions, disidentification from the mind, and identification as the self.
The Identification Exercise
Disidentification from the Body:
I have a body but I am not my body. My body may find itself in different conditions of health or sickness, it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my self, my real ‘I.’ I value my body as my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well, i seek to keep it in good health, but it is not myself I have a body, but I am not my body.
Disidentification from the Emotions:
I have emotions but I am not my emotions. My emotions are diversified, changing, and sometimes contradictory. They may swing from love to hatred, from calm to anger, from joy to sorrow, and yet my essence – my true nature – does not change. ‘I’ remain. Though a wave of anger may temporarily submerge me, I know that it will pass in time; therefore I am not this anger. Since I can observe and understand my emotions, and then gradually learn to direct, utilize, and integrate them harmoniously, it is clear that they are not my self. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
Disidentification from the Mind:
I have a mind but I am not my mind. My mind is a valuable tool of discovery and expression, but it is not the essence of my being. its contents are constantly changing as it embraces new ideas, knowledge, and experience. Often it refuses to obey me! Therefore, it cannot be my self. It is an organ of knowledge in regard to both the outer and the inner worlds, but it is not my self. I have a mind but I am not my mind.
Identification with the Self:
After the disidentification of myself, the ‘I,’ from the contents of consciousness, such as sensations, emotions, thoughts, I recognize and affirm that I am a center of pure self-consciousness. I am a center of will, capable of observing, directing, an using all my psychological processes and my physical body.
Source: The Act of Will by Roberto Assagioli. Synthesis Center Press, 2010. Synthesis Center
The intent of the above is to disidentify from the vestures of the self, and to identify with the state of consciousness that is the self. After sufficent practice, the above can be simplified to:
I have a body, but I am not my body.
I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
I have a mind, but I am not my mind.
I am a center of pure self-consciousness and of will.
Other Transpersonal Topics on My Website
Also you may want to use these following links to explore these other transpersonal topics on my website: spiritual counseling, meditation training in Portland, spiritual direction in Portland, nondual coaching, and presence.