Researcher and Author, Brené Brown says, Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
Two words in this definition stand out for me – “practice” and “embracing”.
First up, authenticity is a “practice” it’s not just an attitude or belief – it has to be something we actually do, and to make it stick, we probably need to do it daily for at least 30 days to begin with. This will create a habit.
Also we need to “embrace” who we are! For many of us that is a giant leap. It’s particularly difficult for many of us intellectually inclined people who like to figure things out. Embracing is an active verb. It implies doing and not so much thinking.
I’m convinced that the whole process becomes a lot easier if our body is engaged as a support in this practice and it can help us in several ways. Our body tells the truth and supports change way more effectively than our mind. Here are some simple steps for establishing a daily practice of authenticity.
- Start with your body every day. When you first wake up resist the urge to lie in bed thinking. Get up and start moving, stretching, breathing, or going for a walk. Your initial body engagement does not have to be a set yoga practice but it’s fine if it is. You are simply looking for a time for movement of your body that will engage it. Practicing authenticity requires your full presence and your body is a major player in being present to yourself so you need to get it moving. Once you have moved, it will be much easier to be present not only to your body, but to your whole being. Shoot for 20 minutes with 10 as the minimum.
- Become “mindfully and bodily present”. Close your eyes and sit or stand in a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths and become fully present, to body, to feelings, to sensations, to everything in and around you. Just notice it all without dwelling on any particular thing. Move your attention from one thing to another without any need for a story or explanation about any one thing in particular. Just move to what you notice next. Take a few more breaths. Just hang out for a few minutes and breathe. Notice your breath. Just notice.
- Set an “authentic living” intention for the day. From this place of self-presence, ask yourself the question: “What is one small thing I could bring in to my life today and act upon that would be a reflection of me living more authentically?” Listen for the answer that comes from deep within. Visualize the practice – what you see yourself doing. Notice how it feels as you visualize it and any accompanying commentary. Just notice if there is but don’t buy in. The practice hasn’t happened yet. This is just a time to clarify what it is and any resistance that might be there to it. Resistance is normal. Of course you can find great reasons for not practicing authenticity. Just notice them but don’t let them win.
- Put your intention into action. Find the time and place during your day and do it. It might be a simple authentic conversation or something you do for yourself that is an expression of the “real” you. Notice what happens.
- Repeat these four simple steps daily for 30 days. During the month you might also want to schedule a few “time outs” for yourself. This is a time just to be with yourself without interruption. You could check the directory of practitioners here on this website and book a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session for yourself. This is possibly one of the best ways I know of becoming present to mysef and gaining awareness into what living authentically means to me. And remember, authentic living is also contagious. You’ll be helping a lot of people in your life by committing to this practice.