The Three Aspects of Self
Through this model of the self, we identify how we have become shaped, blocked and/or cut off from our innate wisdom and integrity. As we come to see ourselves more clearly, we explore the patterns that cause us to contract, react, or otherwise draw away from the experience of being fully present. We become mindful of habitual reactions and learn to engage with the difficult, avoided parts of ourselves that can, once they are understood, liberate deep insight and transformation.
The Constructed Self
This is the self that most of us have come to identify with. The constructed self grows out of our personal history and is what we have come to believe about ourselves through our relationship with others and our environment. Constructed self is, in a way, the story that we have created about ourselves and that we tell ourselves to define our sense of identity.
Unquestioned, the constructed self becomes our automatic default in response to what is happening in our life. When we explore the question Who Am I? and come to see the limitations of our protective patterning, we create an opening in the constructed self and invite the possibility of a more expansive self-knowing.
The Free (Authentic) Self
The free self inherently underlies the constructed self. When we are aware of the free self we literally experience freedom and a sense of liberation. Our awareness is filled with a sense of presence and a completeness of being—we are here, now. While we are aware of our relative individuality, we are also conscious of our interdependence and interconnectedness with all that is.
For most of us, the process of development leads us to lose awareness of our free nature: we forget who we really are. Yet often life presents us with circumstances that activate a memory of the free self, and we experience a longing or a disorientation that precipitates a quest to regain this sense of liberation and wholeness.
The nature of free self is that of continually developing potential, calling us to see through the constructed self and to remember the fullness of our being. The impulse towards depth, expansion and evolution within this free self activates and supports our true love of learning.
No Self, or Spirit
Spiritual traditions use various names for the transpersonal or transcendent (that which is beyond self, awareness without identity or individuality) including: primordial presence; ground of being; Atman; Buddha Mind; the Still Point; etc. Eastern philosophy has developed extensive maps to delineate the meditation practitioner’s experience of movement from individual consciousness to the full realization of non-duality. While we do not focus on differentiating these refined states in our courses, we do acknowledge and draw upon the imminent unity of consciousness, an ultimate and inclusive Presence. In all aspects of our work we point towards the transpersonal, the numinous, and the mysterious intelligence of the field.
Co-Authored by Marianne Murray