Losing Our Identity Can Actually Free Us: The Girl Has No Name
What do you identify with?
Is it what you do for a living?
Is it who you are within your family? Wife? Father?
Is it your awards or accomplishments?
Your favorite athlete?
A character from your favorite show?
Imagine losing all of the above and being completely empty without anything to identify AS you.
Most of the time, we are constantly looking for something to identify with. It gives us a sense of purpose, belonging, and safety.
But what happens if we lose our identity?
For a while now, I’ve heard about this show called Game of Thrones.
I had some time so I decided to watch the first episode just out of curiosity.
Well, I fell in love with Arya Stark and Tyrion Lannister right away.
Tyrion got the best lines in the entire show and I just couldn’t get enough of Arya.
I decided to watch all of the seasons. I’m glad I did. My favorite part was following Arya. I really identified with her.
Arya meets a man that has many faces. He can literally interchange them to become anyone he wants.
I’ve always been fascinated with shapeshifters and this had an even more intriguing twist.
Arya sees the power in this and decides to find out more.
In order for her to find out his secrets and learn from him, she has to let go of everything she has ever known, including herself.
She must become nameless, invisible and without identity.
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This post is not about Game of Thrones but about the loss of identity and spiritual rebirth.
I’m sure most of us have heard stories of rebirth in a spiritual sense.
Most people will experience loss of identity on their path to awakening eventually.
It can unfold in an infinite number of ways but always involves letting go.
Our Past, Present, & Future Selves
I could relate to Arya’s story on several levels.
It reminded me of an exercise I’ve practiced off and on for years; the mirror exercise.
I stare into the mirror and think the mantra, “I love myself” or “God loves me.”
As I look deeply into my left eye, I often see my face changing.
My eyes stay the same but my face changes into different faces.
This doesn’t happen with everyone but started early on for me.
It scared me the first time because some of the faces were scary. They were not all human.
One of them was part cat part human. Another looked like a bright light being with my eyes.
Someone explained that these are memories in my DNA. Some are past lives, some are ancestor memories. Either way, it freaked me out.
Some are past lives, some are ancestor memories. Either way, it freaked me out…at first.
Anyway, when I saw Arya’s teacher in the show, it brought back this memory of having all these different faces and identities.
I could relate to the feeling of being anyone or no one.
When Our Teacher Appears
Then, there was the relatability I had around a powerful teacher.
When I met my first spiritual teacher, this is how I felt. There was an unspoken and undeniable power in this person.
It was tangible and reminded me of a part of me that I longed for.
It promised fulfillment in the most profound way. I knew what I felt was the answer to all of my burning desires.
Like Arya, in order to be part of this new world, I had to be willing to let go of everything I’d ever known, namely the person I’d always been.
I had to become nothing to embrace everything. I said I was ready without fully knowing the gravity of those words.
After speaking them, I was held accountable for the commitment I’d made.
I gave away belongings, my beloved pets, my relationships, my career, and my identities.
I was metaphorically stripped and beaten down every place I was still holding on just like Arya.
The more stubborn I became, the more my Teacher humbled me.
I thought I’d let go of everything dear to me.
Then, I was asked to let go of the very practice that brought me closest to my Teacher and God.
I held on so tight as all that I believed in was ripped away. I was rocked to my core.
If God was asking me to let go of my spiritual practice, what was left to hold onto? What would I trust?
I refused to let go of my beliefs. It was too much. I couldn’t face it.
I ran to alcohol and drugs for comfort and got to the lowest point in my life.
I lost myself in darkness for years.
Like Arya, I have known what it’s like to be the killer and the prey. I have died (or thought I did) several times and been reborn more than once in my life.
It wasn’t actual physical death but on two occasions, I could not distinguish the difference.
I have lost my identity entirely and found the peace on the other side. I have been terrified and humbled.
I say all of this to talk about what I’ve learned from it. The things we hold onto actually imprison us. They become our limitations.
At the beginning of my journey, I had no idea all that I would have to be willing to let go of. Notice I said be willing.
What I found is that when I didn’t resist, often times, I didn’t have to let go of anything.
It was only when I held on tighter, that it was taken away.
I made it harder on myself by resisting and putting up a stubborn fight, just like Arya.
We ask for things we desire but when our lives start changing around us, to bring them to us, we put the brakes on and suffer.
All we have to do is trust the process and trust our intuition. If it gets scary, just feel the fear.
Feel the emotions around the perceived loss and keep trusting. I like to compare it to yoga.
If I move into a post that is really painful, I don’t leave the mat, I breathe into the pain. Then, it releases. If I resist it and hold my breath, it gets worse.
TRUST the process, and BREATHE into it…whatever it is. You will be better than okay when you come out the
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Misha Almira is a shamanic healer. meditation teacher, and full time blogger.