January has begun gently in Bangalore. Spring comes early to this southern city, ushering in the new year with a pleasantly cool breeze, warm sunshine that pours out of a cloudless blue sky and flowering trees that are just beginning to blossom, their gloriously tender hues adding brightness and hope to a fresh new season. Everywhere I look there are touches of colour and grace, perhaps Nature’s timely way of reminding us of courage, resilience, vulnerability and compassion – the ingredients of authenticity. As I reflect on my commitments for the year ahead, I realise that I need to pull up my socks on this one. It’s been a startling awareness.
You’ll find it’s a word that’s littered all over the Internet, questioned passionately and quoted fiercely, showing up in stories, poems and visuals. Being authentic demands us to be real, to live our deeply felt truths, in every domain of our lives. Being authentic is about revealing your vulnerability and opening your heart to say what you think and feel. It’s the moment that connects you completely and wholeheartedly to another and to yourself. It’s the experience of feeling the congruent flow of heart-mind-body, when what you believe matches what you do and say and think and feel; it’s when you know you’re living from your values, from what’s important to you.
It can get a bit exhausting sometimes, to be reminded constantly to stay on the path and not teeter off it (as I’m sometimes tempted to do and yes, as I’ve often done). The thing is, all the inner conflict and unease and heartache I’ve ever experienced in my life has come when I’ve been inauthentic to myself. So even though it’s hard, my mirror tells me that I need to find the way again. So, I yank myself back to make new choices this year, not really knowing where they’ll take me and letting go my fears to trust the voices inside my heart that tell me what’s right for me. It’s hard though.
Living in authenticity isn’t easy. It’s scary to show ourselves completely. From my own experience I know that when we do that, we hold back having compassion for ourselves. If I’m not being authentic, then I can’t tell you that I’m hurting, that I’m tired, that I’m struggling. I hold on to the mask, bravely it seems, and don’t allow for a meaningful connection that can only bring intense joy and gratitude, if I have the grace to let it fall and let you in. Living in authenticity means I embrace who I am, completely and by doing that, I gift my whole self to you.
Mindfully being authentic takes practice. It means every now and then you need to climb onto the balcony of your life and view the dance that’s going on below. What kind of music is playing? And what’s the tune you’re dancing to? Or rather, whose? The first step is acknowledging that truth…it’s what opens up your choices to live in authenticity. It’s a good time of the year to reflect on what they are.