“Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.”-Jay Z
Who am I? What am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?, All of us constantly ask ourselves questions like these all the time. In this discussion, we will look at ‘identity’ from different perspectives to discover why it can be labeled a crisis.
In the last blog, ‘Stay in the Moment’, we spoke about the ego and how it thrives to control every aspect of our lives. Exactly what is the ego and what purpose does it serve in our lives? According to Vocabulary.com;
“Your ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider your “self.”
Now, isn’t “self” the identity we are trying to find with the practice of mindfulness? Yes, that is basically correct, however, look at the definition again. The ego is the conscious mind, and it is the part of us that we consider to be who we are, the self. We identify with our ego (conscious mind) and believe that good, bad or indifferent, that is who we are. This does not necessarily apply to everyone, but a vast majority view their identity from this perspective. Where is the ego or conscious mind?
There have been many scientific and psychological studies on the brain, specifically the difference between the left and right hemispheres. A very interesting study is the Split-Brain Experiments and tests performed by Roger Sperry. Essentially, the left hemisphere of our brain, also considered to be the interpreter, is where our conscious minds reside. The right hemisphere is the unconscious mind or our awareness. The study of the brain can be extremely in-depth, but we will only stick with our basic subject here. Let’s break it down into simple descriptions:
“The left brain is our conscious self-image and interprets all that is perceived throughout our lives on a conscious level. This includes all memories and experiences from our past. The left brain takes all this data and creates an image that we identify with and call it ‘self’. We normally believe that this conscious self is all that we can be and if we want to be or do more, we must do something new, extra or just work harder. This attitude is nothing more than a condition controlled by the left brain (ego). Below is a nice diagram from BrainMind.com, indicating some differences between the left and right brain.
The right hemisphere or right brain is a totally different character altogether. While the left brain is always active, taking in everything and trying to stay in control, the right brain remains laid back, just taking it easy. The right brain is our unconscious self-image, and though it is aware of all that happens on a conscious level, it sees the whole picture. It does not try to interpret everything as the left brain does, because it knows that all things on a conscious level are temporary and primarily affects all that surrounds our physical existence. Our physical bodies, including the left-brain conscious self-image, will grow old and eventually cease to exist on this planet. Our spiritual being, the unconscious self-image has always been and always will be.
“The Identity Crisis here involves attachment to the false self-image created by the left brain (ego) when our right brain is already aware of our true self-image”
This is exactly where the practice of mindfulness can be most beneficial. However, the crisis that may arise when we begin mindfulness and meditation exercises is the awareness of the differences between the conscious and unconscious mind. Because the ego (left brain conscious self-image) is very powerful and it will fight to stay in control. With mindfulness focus, we, in essence, bypass the left brain consciousness allowing our unconscious true self to become an influence on our conscious existence.
Knowledge is power and the more we pursue discovering new truths surrounding the mind, the more freedom we will find. Simple and basic techniques on mindfulness are covered in ‘Mindfulness Volume 1’.
“A Seed grows with no sound but a tree falls with huge noise. Destruction has noise, but creation is quite. This is power of silence…Grow Silently” -Confucius