In my mind the Core has been transcending the muscles, the bones, the body and becoming more about the energy of the Third Chakra, Manipura.  I feel it in my own being.  Since I have started to cultivate an awareness of "the core" in my own practice my perspective on who I am has also been changing.  The energy of this Chakra is a powerful one - it is able to cripple an individual and limit their view of themselves, and for years I have been suffering and struggling to find a sense of Self that is healthy and balanced.  But this Chakra is also capable of initiating profound change in world view - no other Chakra, in my mind, but the Third has such huge capacity for tapping into the source of personal power.

Realizing the Self as a balancing act was a revelation for me.  For a very long time it was all about maintaining status quo, proving to the world and the people in it my own value.  That was because I did not believe in my value myself, and waited for others to validate and affirm my right to self-determination.  Somehow personal worth was something that was supposed to come from the outside - from my parents, from my peers, friends, or even strangers.  There are many ways we try to maintain this status quo - we go out of our way to enhance the Self with as many attributes as we can think of, attributes that others consider special.  A home, a career, brand labels, anything and everything as a collection of fancy jewels to decorate ourselves.  Manipura is translated from Sanskrit to mean "The City of Many Jewels", and I think the jewels are the labels that define us, that give us a certain sense of worth, value and importance, something we treasure.  Eventually we begin to identify with those labels so completely that they totally define who we are for us.  If anything threatens to take one of these labels away, the Self rises up in defense, and will fight to the death.  Literally, in some cases.  This kind of attachment to these Self-identifiers limits us, however, and causes intense emotional pain because we are unable to let go, to move on, to be free from our possessions and the roles we play in life.

Another way to maintain status quo is to criticize and put down others, making us feel better by comparison.  In my own mind I sometimes hear the voice of the Self singing praises to me and finding fault with everyone else.  I have learned to smile at this little voice - it is just my ego.  I have to say it has been extremely liberating.  We may need this voice to function in society, but don't give it too much power, or soon you will be a slave to it.

Here is a meditation to help you get in touch with who you really are, underneath the words that describe you:

Sit comfortably with your spine straight, and engage your diaphragm with deep, slow, quietly powerful breaths.  Feel your lower ribs expand evenly in all directions.  Become established in the Witness mode, when you are observing your mind and internal states, but do not allow yourself to make any comments on what arises in your consciousness.  Once that process is underway, add a silent Mantra - inhale and say "So", exhale while chanting inwardly "Hum."  This "So-Hum" Mantra is a statement, an answer to the question "who am I?"  "I am That", the Mantra states.  I am what I am.  An experience beyond words, concepts, labels and ideas is to be had once you shed all of that internal baggage that like a haze prevents us from seeing the truth deep inside - we are all good, we are all one and the same, together, and there is no need to prove anything or to ask anything, because all is known and proven.

When you see the sameness of all beings at their deepest core, you realize that by criticizing others you are criticizing yourself.  When you hear criticism directed at you that attacks your "labels", you know that your inherent goodness cannot be touched.  With this meditation you are able to have a direct experience of your Self, and you realize that it does not depend on what you or anyone else says about you.  No matter how many words describe you, you are still no better or worse than anyone else, free to Self-determine your own paradigms, choosing things for yourself out of free will, not because someone expects it, or demands it, not unconsciously, but with full awareness for the simple joy of it here and now, without being attached to it and free to let it go at any moment (and I don't mean physical things only, of course).  It was not really yours to begin with, you were just borrowing it for a short time, to enhance your experience of Life.