Who Am I? A Life for Transformation


As part of my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, I'm participating in a 21-day visibility challenge. So for the next 21 days, I'll be posting something every day about a series of questions or topics.

Today is about:

This is me.

I don't think it could have been much smaller. Hehe...

It takes a lifetime to answer that question.

What is the deepest answer I have found so far that runs through all levels of my Self? Ego, True Self, Unique Self, Evolutionary Unique Self? Or as they would say in Kundalini Yoga, Karma and Dharma?

So let me just get started....

My life is all about transformation. Transformation is the common thread that runs through everything:

Transformation

  • Of my self

  • Of the people around me

  • Of the structures and systems around me (and in the world)

  • Of the worldviews, stories, and structures of consciousness in which we live

Transformation is the very micro-level of evolution - and especially of emergence.

Transformation means growth of consciousness - but not in the linear or even exponential sense (where there is more and more of the same in more and more complicated contexts) - but in the sense of emergence of completely new possibilities (new integrated complex wholes - through self-organization and intimacy of the individual parts).

Thereby new identities emerge, which are not a continuation of the old identities.

We move through the stations of the self (of waking up to these stations) as articulated by Dr. Marc Gafni. By the way, these stations are not linear stages arranged one on top of the other - even though it takes some realization of the previous stations to move on to the next, we find ourselves in all these stations again and again throughout our lives, sometimes in context-appropriate ways, sometimes in less appropriate or even pathological ways.

Here are the nine stations of the self:

  • Pre-personal

  • Ego (separate self)

  • Social self

  • False self (an inauthentic way of being that has formed around a false core sentence, a core belief from our childhood that something is wrong with us, and with which we identify - e.g., if my core sentence is, I'm not good enough, then I may have built a false self around it that works really hard (or accumulates doctorates or other successes), and yet it's never enough. The conviction of not being good enough lingers and drives on and on. Or perhaps I have resigned and always fail, thus proving my core belief).

  • True Self (or Non-Self) - ONE with the whole field of BEING (consciousness) and BECOMING (longing, striving, desiring).

  • Unique Self (our unique embodiment of the ONE True Self - with unique perspectives, qualities, and gifts)

  • Unique Shadow (our unlived Unique Self, which has fallen into the shadow and appears there in a distorted way - this has to be liberated and integrated into our Unique Self)

  • Evolutionary Unique Self (our Unique Self in an evolutionary context, as a unique embodiment of the ONE evolutionary impulse)

  • Unique Self Symphony (the harmony of Evolutionary Unique Selves playing together for the sake of the whole)

Or we move through the stages of growing up - from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to kosmocentric love, intimacy, and consciousness.

And all of this manifests in a very concrete way in everyday life through

  • New behaviors

  • New habits (routines, rhythms, and rituals)

  • New prepared environments***

  • New forms of interaction

  • New structures and systems

  • New language, new stories, and new worldviews

A new world is emerging.

This interest in the various levels, methods, and practices of transformation has been evident in my life from an early age. In the process, my journey of learning and growing went through the following stations, among others:

A university study of physics that I had begun.

My training as a teacher for ballet, jazz, modern dance, and tap dance in Holland (Arnhem Dance Academy) and New York (Alvin Ailey American Dance Center)

More than two decades of advanced training in energetic consciousness work, among others with my teachers Lisa Swidler, Robert Jaffe, and Christine Wenzel

  • Systemic constellation work

  • Systemic Coaching

  • Integral theory as developed by Ken Wilber

  • Human resources and organizational development

  • Project management

  • Trauma work (Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Polyvagal Theory)

  • Kundalini Yoga Training

And of course, since 2011, my intensive collaboration with my teacher Dr. Marc Gafni - for about 7 years as Executive Director of the Center for World Philosophy and Religion (aka Center for Integral Wisdom aka Center for World Spirituality) founded by him and now as Editorial Director of the Great Library of CosmoErotic Humanism.


***Prepared Environments

The idea of prepared environments has also been a thread running through since I came into contact with the work of Rebeca and Mauricio Wild, around 1995. [In 1999, I then attended and completed a full Montessori course - and then started and led an initiative for the founding of an alternative school in the Sauerland region.]

We all live in prepared environments. Roads and parking lots are prepared environments for cars. A construction site is a prepared environment for construction.

Maria Montessori spoke of prepared environments for children, where children normalize and grow and develop from within.

[The Wilds, drawing on the systemic view of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, put it this way: All living beings have a semi-permeable membrane around them that protects the relative inner order from the outer (relative) chaos. This is true physically as well as emotionally and mentally.

It is the inner order that decides what is taken in through this membrane, what is repelled and what is expelled. If I force something on someone from the outside, it is tantamount to penetrating (and partially destroying) that membrane.

If a child's emotional and mental membranes are perforated again and again, at some stage, they no longer know what belongs to them and what does not. Having to participate in zero-sum games and be measured by win/lose metrics at an age when they are still completely dependent on the love of primary caregivers is also tantamount to violating those membranes.

If, on the other hand, the child grows up in a prepared environment that contains everything s/he needs for her/his development (i.e., where her/his authentic basic and developmental needs are (can be) met), s/he can relax and will learn in her/his time all that is important for her/his life.

Basic needs include physiological and safety needs (according to Maslow), as well as basic Unique Self needs, as formulated by Dr. Marc Gafni: the need to be recognized, loved, wanted, chosen, [and later also] needed and desired.

Developmental needs are, of course, different at different stages of development: e.g., different sensory materials for the sensorimotor stage, concrete materials for the concrete-operational stage, spaces for experience and reflection on experience for the formal-operational stage, etc.

These needs also include meaningful boundaries that protect the children from active dangers (dangers they cannot yet assess for themselves), other children, and adults who are fully present with them.

The Wilds' experience shows that, with adolescence (the beginning of the formal-operational phase), young people begin to take an interest in the lives of others. They also start at this point to ask the adults around them about their lives. How do you live? What is important to you? What do you believe in? etc.

Their developmental question is: Who am I in this world? (Rebeca Wild's formulation).

In CosmoErotic Humanism we would call this the three questions:

Where? Who? What?

  • Where am I? Is there a welcome sign in the Kosmos? How does this world work?

  • Who am I?

  • What is there for me to do?

Because the children have repeatedly experienced in the prepared environment that their membranes and authentic needs have been respected, they can safely embrace the views and ideas of others and not lose themselves in the process once they become adolescents.

They can now form genuine intimate relationships with other people and their ideas and views.]

But what does a prepared environment for adults look like?

An environment for development at even later stages of development?

An environment where our membranes can even heal.

An environment for transformation of ourselves and the world we live in?

Real transformation always takes place in harmony with our environment. When I change, my environment changes too - and vice versa.

Development can only take place when my survival patterns calm down and I relax. Only in this way can I also use upcoming crises to transform and continue to develop myself and my environment.

Otherwise, we tend to fall back to earlier levels of development when crises arise. Our brain stem takes over. Higher functions are largely switched off.

For this relaxation, there needs to be prepared spaces where I can fulfill my basic and developmental needs (for adults, this includes the need to be a contributor to ever broader contexts, both in the spatial and temporal sense) and islands in time where we live the different aspects of our dream.

It needs spaces and times for

  • Study and practice

  • Work and creativity

  • Encounter and togetherness

  • Celebration, music, dance, culture

  • Garden and nature

  • Food and drink

  • Possibilities for retreat

  • Etc.

And always people who have already gone certain paths a little further, have already developed certain gifts further than we have, and who, with their experience, knowledge, and awareness, can hold the space, set boundaries when needed, and provide inspiration.

Through experience we can find out together what more is needed.

Some of the guiding questions when anything is not working should always be:

What authentic need is not being met here?

From which phase of development does it come? (Is this about the healing and transformation of something old? Or the emergence of something new?)

And how can we enrich or reshape the environment to make space for or fulfill this need?

In my FreiRaum GEO, I am just beginning to create such environments (in space and time - and also online). And I welcome you to participate in the creation of these spaces. Should this appeal to you, please feel free to contact me.