Updated: May 1
“Be who you are.
Not who others think you are, not who you think you are.
Not who others want you to be, not even who you want to be. Just Be who you ARE.”
~Arthur Lincoln Pauls
Easier said than done, right? Authenticity, as I understand it, has to do with coming home to our truest, deepest self and living from that place. Authenticity is something that is on one hand very simple, straightforward, direct...but on the other hand, not necessarily easy. Meditation, too, is a simple thing, but you have probably noticed that doing nothing is not as easy as it looks! The true purpose, in fact, of meditation or any other spiritual discipline is to help us access our authentic self, our true nature. Only in the present moment is that possible; only in the present moment can you be in touch with your authentic self. Sometimes in order to recognize what something IS it can be helpful to point out what it is NOT. We are not in our true self any time we are identified with the thoughts in our head, which predominantly orient around “the story of me,” in the past or future. It’s probably not possible to talk about authenticity without addressing ego. Eckhart Tolle says, “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. NONE OF THESE IS YOU.... Give up defining yourself, to yourself or others. You won’t die. You will come to life." Small children, animals, and anything in nature are embodiments of authenticity. There is no pretense, no attempt to impress or be anything other than they are, and they are fully present in the now. We all start out this way, but as we grow up we are conditioned to conform to the expectations of others and to society, and we start to identify more and more with this outer persona while losing touch with our true self. If you are from a Christian background, you are likely familiar with the passage saying we must “become like little children” in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven, and also “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you”- this is what’s being pointed to here. When we are living from our authentic self, there is harmony (Heaven) within us and we create Heaven on Earth by living in harmony with all that is around us, happily making our unique contribution in the grand scheme of things. Self-Care Suggestion: There are many ways to practice accessing your deeper, authentic self, so that you can more frequently live from that place which is in harmony with all. Focusing on the breath is one such practice that helps us to disengage from the narrative in the mind, by which you can access your deeper authentic self. Experience the breath directly, just as it is, without trying to control it or make it be any particular way. Let the breath become a portal that takes you out of the "story of me" to something deeper, your authentic self - in this very moment. Be fully present- feeling, hearing, noticing the breath... let it come and go naturally. Let other sensory input and even the thoughts just come in and move through you in the same way, noticing without reaction, without grasping onto pleasant sensations or shutting down to unpleasant ones. If you are interested in going deeper with this topic, or want more support for your exploration of it, I recommend Eckhart Tolle’s books The Power of Now and A New Earth. Or listen to Oprah’s fantastic 10 part podcast with Eckhart on A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Chapter 1) from Oprah and Eckhart Tolle: A NEW EARTH on Apple Podcasts.
Here is a link to the first of this series: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/oprah-and-eckhart-tolle-a-new-earth/id1458654443?i=1000434071830 May you be strengthened in living as your Authentic Self.