The journey of Self-realization, or as Jung calls it, individuation, is the process by which humankind tackles the universal question, "Who am I?" At one point or another most of us go through this questioning, though we often feel like the only one who is uncertain. Across the ages, cultures and societies have had stories, myths, or rituals that give guidance to this ubiquitous archetype. Examples range from the Vision Quests of the Native American to the life of Siddhartha to the quest of Frodo, and to even our beloved Zoolander. This wish for wholeness is not of just a few, but all of humanity.
Well, then, who are you? Often people begin to answer the question with labels such as name, occupation, relationships: "I am Marisa. I am a mother. I am a yoga teacher. I am an American. I am 30 years old. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am a friend." And those things I correctly am, but then, who is this "I" that I am referring to? Where does this "I" originate?
Further inquiry reveals that my sense of "I" comes not from my my mind, because the mind is the producer of thought, and though I can think about "I", this "I" is beyond ideas. When I let go of names and forms there is a subtle energy, a sense of presence, of being, of I-Amness. Trying to capture this sense with words is like trying to raise water from a lake with a giant net; nothing sticks.
I have come to know my "I" as an energy of the heart because this limitless sense of being, this witness, feels loving and kind and open. When I reside in my heart I feel connected to something vaster than my opinionated personality. Oh yeah! I remember now, that's the union of yoga! The union of self with God, the Absolute, the Universal, the Self, or whatever you want to call it. This is not to say that Self-realization is a religious experience, though it is certainly one that the conscious ego finds itself grounded in something deeper to, prior than, and more foundational than the self.
It isn't simply within the writing of this blog that I have come to understand the task of individuation... My journey began years ago, and continues everyday. Through the adoption of cross-cultural tools such as yoga, meditation, Toltec journey work, art, travel, Vision Quests, sweat lodges, dance, and more, I have learned to love, to forgive, to question, to accept, to challenge, and to release into the core of being. Greatest of all, I have learned from my own leaps of faith into my path of heart, sometimes getting my face splattered in mud.
"There has got to be more to life than being really, really ridiculously goodlooking."