This is a guided meditation that comes from the therapeutic practice of psychosynthesis which was started by psychoanalyst Roberto Assagioli. It involves a process of gradually stripping away the layers of false identification to reveal the true nature of the Self underneath. Normally you identify with everything except your true Self – your body, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, job, possessions, the various roles you play in life, and so on. But this makes you vulnerable to insecurity, as Assagioli points out:
“We are dominated by everything with which our self is identified. We can dominate and control everything from which we dis-identify ourselves.”
Following this guided meditation will encourage you to dis-identify from all the things that aren’t really you. Then you can recognise your true Self instead, which is Awareness. The practice highlights each of the areas where you’re falsely identified and then strips them back so you can see what’s underneath. It starts with the body and sensations, and then works through feelings and emotions, before tackling the mind and thoughts.
In reality, these various parts of your being don’t occupy little boxes on their own. They intersect and interact and influence each other, and you can become totally caught up in the constant flux and lose touch with your true Self in the process. This practice will help you to discriminate clearly between the contents of your consciousness, and the consciousness or awareness itself.
- Helps to calm the emotions
- Promotes greater flexibility of mind and identity
- Encourages direct experience of the true self
- Enhances the synthesis of the personality prior to transcendence
This meditation requires a lot of text which you can either memorise or record so you can listen to it as you meditate. Or you can improvise around the basic points. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll no longer need the prompt of the text and you’ll be able to get to the heart of the practice much quicker.
The technique detailed below includes an abridged version of the full text as well as an even more basic version. You can do the meditation just using the basic text if you like, but it’s a good idea to practice the full version for a while so you can really feel the benefit of it. Then you can simplify the steps once you’ve got the hang of it.
With each section, don’t just read the words – really try to be aware of what they mean and feel the truth of them. Take a moment at the end of each section to let the experience of that truth sink in before you move on to the next. This is detailed in the full text, which you can download here: Full text for the Self Identification Meditation (pdf)
Note: Don’t practice this meditation if you tend to over-analyse yourself or if you suffer from borderline, psychosis or depersonalisation disorders.
Self Identification Meditation
- Sit in meditation on a cushion or a hard-backed chair. Spend a few minutes watching your breath and relaxing the mind.
- Either read or listen to a recording of the meditation text. Be sure to visualise as clearly as you can and really feel what the text is pointing you towards realising. Once you’ve performed the meditation a few times you’ll be able to do it without needing to read the text.
The abridged text: Assert and be aware of the following:
- I have a body and sensations but I am not my body and sensations. 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’. My body is 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.
- I have feelings and emotions but I am not my feelings and emotions. These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my self, in times of hope or despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe and understand my emotions, and then gradually learn to direct, utilise, and integrate them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
- I have a mind and thoughts, but I am not my mind and thoughts. My mind is a valuable tool of discovery and expression. Its contents are constantly changing; it is undisciplined but teachable. It is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not my self. I have a mind and thoughts, but I am not my mind and thoughts.
- What am I then? What remains? It is the essence of myself – a centre of pure self-consciousness and self-realisation. I recognise and affirm myself as a centre of pure self-consciousness and of will, capable of observing, mastering, directing and using all the psychological processes and the physical body. I am a centre of Awareness and of Power.
The basic text:
Use this when you’re ready to get to the heart of the practice without the preamble. Remember to take your time with each assertion and close your eyes if you wish. You may want to repeat each line several times, as you see fit. Assert the following:
- I have a body and sensations, but I am not my body and sensations.
- I have feelings and emotions, but I am not my feelings and emotions.
- I have a mind and thoughts, but I am not my mind and thoughts.
- I am I, a centre of Pure Awareness and Power.
As you come to the end of the text, take a few moments to allow the realisation of the true self to spread through your being. Breathe and stand.
You can also practice this meditation with other things you identify with, such as roles, desires, beliefs, and so on. The text here and in the pdf are taken from Psychosynthesis and The Act of Will by Roberto Assagioli. For more information visit: The Institute for Psychosynthesis