Friday, June 18, 2010

owning all of mySelf

I've been thinking a lot about the many "selves" that exists within each of us. This started a couple weeks ago when life coach Grace came into town and presented to our teacher training group. It continued on as I began my readings for my Ayurveda course. My first chapter is on Philosophy, and it's really juicy.

I enjoyed a section in which it speaks about health and disease. The American Heritage Dictionary defines health as, "the state of an organism functioning normally without disease or abnormality. Any state of optimal functioning, well being or progress."

In Sanskrit (the language of yoga and ayurveda) the word for health is svastha. "Sva" means self and "stha" means established. So svastha means established in the self. This really appeals to me much more than our western definition.

In most Vedic literature there are two "selves". There is "Self" spelled with a capital S, the one which signifies our highest self, the part that is connected to a higher power, the one that expresses our highest virtues.

Then there is "self" spelled with a lower case "s", signifying our lower self, the part that is ego based. This sense of self would be called "self esteem" in the West.

Ayurveda says that to enjoy perfect health we need to bring each of our “selves” to the table. We need our higher Self to be awake, aware and connected to a higher purpose thus guiding us towards self realization. We also need our lower self to have a healthy outlook, a positive self esteem, to interact with the world in supportive ways, to teach and guide us on journey towards bliss. juicy!!

This led me to think about one of the sessions with Grace on personas. We explored them in a playful, identified different personas, understanding that who we are can be quite complex and that at different times in our lives we need to call on different personas.

We identified personas that have brought recognition.
Personas that have gotten us into trouble.
Ones that have brought success and so on.

I am seeing these as my "subselves".

Some of my personas I identified were:
**Tender Foot (the one that is reeeallly sensitive)
**Rebel Girl (the one that is resistant to authority)
**The Dreamer (the one that believes anything is possible)
**The Wise One (the teacher, thinker, philosopher)
**Cute & Restless (Lisa shared a reading one day in yoga class and all I recall was something about "acutely restless", which I immediately resonated with. Upon telling my Yoga BF Shelli whom is equally restless, she thought I said "cute and restless" which is much more fun)
**Mrs. Fix It (the one that wants to take save everyone and immediately wants to take their pain away)

Upon first working with this I had to think about how it resonated for me in terms of being authentic. That's a word I use a lot. And an idea that is important to me. More so now that I continue to bring forth who I am without wanting to change me.

I looked up the definition of authentic. Merriam Webster says:
Authentic mean being actually and exactly what is claimed. authentic implies being fully trustworthy as according with fact.

Wikipedia says that in the study of communication persona is a term given to describe the versions of self that all individuals possess. Behaviours are selected according to the desired impression an individual wishes to create when interacting with other people. Therefore, personae presented to other people vary according to the social environment the person is engaged in, in particular the persona presented before others will differ from the persona an individual will present when he/she happens to be alone.

I came to the conclusion that owning all of my "selves" is an authentic expression of who I am. And that acting in accordance to who I am (which may mean accessing one of my personas) is being authentic.

Not expressing my authenticity would be acting from the role of "The Wise One" when inside I was wanting to express "Rebel Girl"....not owning my truth, and not fully expressing what I was feeling.

I'm just in the beginning stages of thinking/playing with this. I'm sure there is much to be said!

So, what do you think? About how health is defined, what it means to you, all of your "selves", etc. Would really love your thoughts on this one. :)

PS - Photo above is during one of my rebel girl moments...hence the look on my mama's face.


GraceC said...

Hi Sharon,
Grace here, with some thoughts on your topic.
I love your consideration of our many selves and how they relate to our health and wholeness. I cannot separate those two words out - health and wholeness, especially in terms of our personas. As you said the personas are the many multi-faceted aspects of our personalities. I think of them like characters that we play in the movie of our life. And each of those characters has a costume or outfit that it wears and those costumes are hanging in our closets. When we know that these characters are just that, and not who we really are then we can be fluid with them. We can put on the costume and play the part for a period of time or for an event, like when you use 'The Wise One' to teach a yoga class and then hang it back up so you can be something else like not-knowing or foolish or wild.

When we forget that these are just characters and think that they are all of who we are, then we can get stuck and limited by that perspective. That persona gets in charge and we loose our sense of choice. We can get righteous and rigid. An example of this might be a politician who puts on the costume that presents him as the upright family man with squeaky clean ideals, which doesn't acknowledge all the other aspects of him and you later hear he is having an affair.

Our health and wholeness is inclusive and flexible. It acknowledges all our parts that make up our whole, both the dark and the light. And the more we can play with these different parts and bring them to our own awareness, the more freedom and wholeness we begin to experience and the less of a hold they have on us. Instead we can learn to use them to be of service in our lives. For instance Sharon, your 'Dreamer' who believes anything is possible, would be a great one to have in a strategy session to solve a problem.

Are we always one of these different selves/personas or are we sometimes our big Self? I call the big Self, essence and that is bigger than and contains the sum of all these parts. Yes sometimes we are acting from pure essence, where we are breathing deeply, feel fluid in our bodies, are present, like at the end of a yoga class. That is a delicious experience. And we are often in a persona and all of this is what makes us such rich, diverse, complex, beautiful, crazy, wise, magnificent, multi-faceted beings.

If we try to cut off or stifle or hide or hate these aspects of ourselves we will indeed affect our health and wholeness, sometimes to the point where we will manifest the physical symptoms of disease.
One of my favorite and I think the most potent remedy of all for wholeness is to love it to death. Our personas and shadows do not go away when we hate them, but when we love them fully, great transformation takes place both with ourselves and all around us.

Thank you Sharon for initiating this conversation and for being the big Wonderer that you are.

Jen said...

Thank, Sharon and Grace, for giving me so much to ponder about my many selves!