By Karen Jaenke, PhD

Wisdom Self, Wounded Self

In the sequence of research classes that I teach in the Consciousness and Transformative Studies MA program, the first exercise that students do is to complete a Wisdom Self Profile and a Wounded Self Profile. The Wisdom Profile asks one to identify the core Being qualities that form the foundation of one’s existence. These Being qualities are the attributes one hopes to be remembered for, when all is said and done, at the conclusion of life. They are the qualities that are present when acting from the higher self. These qualities arise from a person’s essence, existing without an opposite, such as Empathy, Authenticity, Wisdom, Truth. They are the inalienable values of one’s soul that demand expression in order for life to reach fulfillment.

Because we do not always act from our higher selves, however well-intentioned, I developed the Wounded Self Profile to focus a beam of light on the barriers that stand in the way of expressing Wisdom Self qualities. To identify the specifics of the Wounded Self, one engages in a meditative life review, going backwards from the present, to identify key moments of personal wounding, then giving each of these wounded selves a name, which can serve as a ready handle. The next step is to examine how the Wisdom Self and Wounded Self are in dynamic interaction, thereby engendering greater self-awareness and a shift towards more consistent living from the Wisdom Self.

As my students were sharing the fruits of this exercise, I became inspired to revisit my own Wisdom Self and Wounded Self Profiles. The Being qualities that emerged for me today are: Presence, Flow, Transparency and Silence.

Presence is a spiritual value that coalesces as undivided attention. The body and mind are one with each other and at one with the present moment and the immediate environment. Presence is cultivated through awareness of the steady rhythm of the breath, and chases away distraction and dissociation. Hence Presence approaches pure being, and is also fundamentally healing.

Flow refers primarily to an internal state of conscious attunement to the currents of subtle energy that run throughout the body. Flow is realized when the piece of cosmic energy that is deposited as my existence and my conscious awareness merge harmoniously. However, internal flow tends to lead to external flow with the circumstances of the wider world. The equation is: Vital energy plus Awareness equals Flow. And Flow in turn generates Joy.

Transparency arises when the barriers within the self dissolve, allowing for the barriers between self and world to also dissolve. Thus Transparency means permeability between self and world, or the end of alienated consciousness and entrance into participatory consciousness. I observe that Transparency accompanies consciousness development; an increase in conscious development means an increase in Transparency. As the fragments of consciousness become more integrated and fluid, Transparency manifests more regularly in our interactions with the world. This piece of writing, an act of self-disclosure, is an attempt to express the quality of Transparency.

The appearance of Silence as part of my Wisdom Self came as a complete surprise, with a cascading epiphany. In the paradoxical way that Wisdom qualities are connected to primal wounding, Silence is intimately connected to an early Wounded Self. As told to me by my grandmother, when I was two, one day my mother, trying to manage with three young children all under age five, removed me from my antics, placing me in the crib. Unhappy about the interruption of my play, I decided to take matters into my own hands, to escape my cage. I passed my legs and torso through the crib bars, but then, my head could not pass. All at once I was stuck, trapped, and in danger of suffocating, with my life and body hanging in the balance. My mother, hearing a change in my cries, got my father, who pulled apart the bars to rescue me. But not before a near death experience, and the stifling of my voice, were etched into my soul.

For over thirty years, I have actively worked with the residue of this throat constriction chakra, to include choosing a profession rooted in speaking and writing. However, only now do I realize the ultimate resolution of this inner conflict: embracing the necessity of my relationship to sacred Silence.

Meditating on the image of Silence in the center of my being gives me energy; it is liberating. Silence with a big S. The Silence that is connected to emptiness. The image of Silence in my soul appears as an empty space in the darkness, a clarity within stillness, where there is no perturbation. This Silence is the ground of my Being, and from this ground, clarity of speech and right action radiate out into the world. In pure Silence, the egoic agenda dissolves.

From within this Silence, I give a shout out to the world for consciousness, as a higher value, worth pursuing and staking one’s life upon, along with the option of pursuing a path of dedicated conscious development through a Master’s degree. The online program offers a conduit to global culture. The online program becomes the form that my speech takes. And in order to balance the tremendous energies unleashed by generating access to a global audience, along with rapid programmatic growth, I must return, again and again, to the Silence at the center of my soul.

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