The Self-Identification Exercise – paying ‘closer attention’ to ourselves in a busy world

Every morning we can choose to have the sort of day we want. That may sound abusive to those who suffer from deep emotional, physical pain or those who are living in unacceptable conditions. Of course, it is true that some states of health and ways we are forced to live cause human beings to suffer and become unable to move beyond their pain and situation.
I think about those of us in ordinary everyday life when perhaps we wake and face a day of difficulties, repetition, chores or stuck-ness. Once aware of how we are, by identifying our physical state, feelings and thoughts, by accepting them as real and the starting point of where we are now, there can often be more choice to then care for ourselves in better ways, or to move in new directions.

Most of us drown out ourselves with devices, the radio, distractions, and a myriad of preoccupations. We don’t always acknowledge the reality of our true state of being. If these physical states, feelings, and thoughts are repressed by our ‘busyness’ we are in a kind of trance removed from ourselves, and as such become ‘de-personalised’. Here is an exercise to develop greater self-awareness and therefore self-care.

A Psychosynthesis exercise to ‘take your morning temperature’ on many levels is:

The Self-Identification Exercise’ – A way of exploring our body, feelings, mind, self and Transpersonal Self

Sitting still, closing your eyes, connecting to the in-breath and the out-breath without trying to change or alter anything, allowing your breathing to ‘breath you’. Breathing like this then turn your attention to your physical body, the body that carries you through life, the body that brought you to this chair this moment. Become aware of any physical sensations you may have right now, aches or itches, places both inside and out of your physical body that you are experiencing right now, relaxed, tense or otherwise – just note them and become aware of these experiences in your body. Having done this for a few moments affirm to yourself…

’I have a body, this is my body, and on one level I am my body and yet ‘I’, am not my body.’ (Since I can have physical pain, lose a function or feel relaxed in my body and still be me).

Connecting again to your breathing, the in breath and the out breath, turn your attention gently to your feelings, whatever they may be, become aware any emotions flowing through you right now, accepting them for whatever they may be. Perhaps there is excitement about the day, disappointment or anxieties, just acknowledge them, and having done so for a few moments affirm …..

‘I have these feelings, these are my feelings and emotions and on one level I am my feelings and yet ‘I,’ am not my feelings’. (Since I can experience many differing feeling states throughout my day and yet still be me).

Again, connecting to the breathing the in breath and the out breath, then your attention gently to your thinking. Again, just allow your thoughts to be, almost as if you were watching an aeroplane with the banner of your thoughts trailing through a clear sky – watch them come and go. Maybe you are listing the shopping you need to buy later or preoccupied with something someone else said, without judging just become aware of your thinking mind. Having done this for a few moments affirm….

I have these thoughts, these are my thoughts and on one level I am my thinking mind, my thoughts, and yet ‘I’, am not my thoughts’. (Since in each moment my thinking can flit around from topic to topic and have different ideas and yet I am still me).

Having checked in, as it were, and then dis-identified from these aspects connect again to your breathing, the in breath and the out breath, allowing your breathing to take you to a deeper still place that perhaps you know well, a place of awareness, an observing part if you like, that notices the sensations in the body, any feelings and thoughts. Having done this for a few moments affirm…..

‘I am a centre of pure consciousness and will’. (Since I have a sense of the part of me that is just aware and can consciously move this awareness, around, focusing on the differing changing aspects of myself).

Be with this connection to your deeper, stiller part, ‘the self’ for a few moments and perhaps a feeling, thought or an image will come, a phrase or a word. You can stop the exercise at this point or continue with this last part.

From this place of pure consciousness and will, you may then connect to the question, ‘Who is aware that I am aware?’. (This helps us as individuals to connect to the Transpersonal Self or the Higher Self directing and guiding us in our lives to live out our transpersonal values such as being loving, truthful, driven by purpose, meaning and values). Again, note any feelings, thoughts, images or phrases or words that may arise from this awareness.

Gently bring your attention back into the room and ground the experience perhaps by writing or drawing. It is suggested to do this exercise once a day for a month.

Afterword

This is the ‘self-identification’ – we are identifying with our pure awareness and from this place we can make truer choices unfettered by the restraints of our physical limitations, our constantly changing emotions, and habitual thought patterns.
Once I know how my true self is, I can then make a choice from my ‘centre’, my ‘self’ to self-care.
If for instance I notice that my body is aching and tired, I can then try to stretch, rest or care for my body in some way – like a bath or a healthy meal.

If I feel sad and low, I can be kind to my feelings, accept them, write about them, or talk to someone who understands. I can even choose to engage in an activity if that helps, or just sit still and cry because I am grieving something or someone precious that is now lost to me.

If I experience repetitive thoughts or notice that my mind is blank or it’s opposite, racing and diving in and out of many different thoughts, I can choose to apply my mind to writing or talking again to someone else. I could decide to begin to focus on one thing only, then take an action to begin to let go of certain thoughts and maybe try to focus upon another mental occupation that I find pleasing, such as, crosswords, sudoku or read a novel.

This ‘self-identification exercise’, can be a useful way of slowing down and learning about ourselves and in the process find our way.