Hello Beautiful Friends,
Today, I want to talk to you all about the name of my blog and why it's called The Authentic Yogini. When I was coming up with a name for it, I thought through several options and kept landing on this word - authentic. Through my writing, teaching yoga, and sharing parts of my life, my hope is that I'm able to be an example of what being your true, authentic self looks like. Even though this is the goal, being authentic has been a grand journey and is an ongoing process. I wasn't able to show myself in this way over night, and the truth is, I'm still learning who my true self even is and what exactly that means. I touched on this in my last post about setting intentions for 2018, and working on finding my true self in order to help with being authentic made the list. So, to keep with this promise I made to myself, I wanted to share my thoughts on what being authentic means for me right now and how I'm working to grow and learn about myself. If this is also a goal of yours, maybe it made your New Year's resolutions list, hopefully it'll be helpful in you finding your true self, as well.
First and foremost, let's get a common false belief out of the way - being authentic is not something that someone either has or does not have. We often use the word authentic in this light, saying "She's such an authentic person." But, the way I view being authentic is that it's a conscious choice, one we make likely multiple times every single day. And, because this is a choice rather than an innate characteristic you're just born with, you can practice and work on it. How cool is that!?
With this in mind, I'll be the first to tell ya that I've had to work on being authentic over years. It's required both gaining a better understanding of who I am and what makes me tick, as well as practicing showing others my true self and being okay with putting myself out in the world. And seriously, that was some pretty scary shit in the beginning. I remember feeling as though I was going to have a panic attack and would feel my hands start to tremble and my heart begin to race when I tried to tell someone what I really thought or show them who I really was. But, as with many things that require practice, I got better at it and more fearless. Those panic attack symptoms started to become less and less and I started opening myself up to others more and more.
As time went on, I started to find that showing my true self to others was so worth the effort. Because here's the thing, when you choose to not be authentic with others, you're not being authentic with yourself. Telling lies or keeping your mouth shut when you really believe you should stand up for something is not living your truth, and in effect lying not just to others but to yourself. And, over time, lying to yourself will only stifle your truth and bring you farther from understanding who you truly are. In effect, you're dissociating yourself from your authentic self.
So, in order to bring you closer to knowing your authentic, amazing self and sharing that with the world, here are a few tips to get you started. I'll be joining you in all this throughout the year, as I try to bring myself closer to my true self.
Spend time just being with yourself. For those of us who struggle with alone time, feeling the need to always have others around, this one can be super challenging. Being alone, or sitting with self as we like to call it in therapy, can bring up a lot of emotions and thoughts we might have being trying to hide from ourselves. Or, it might actually bring up nothing in the beginning, just silence and boredom. Either way, spending time with yourself and exploring your inner workings can be super scary, and it's so necessary in order to figure out who we are and what makes you tick. This can be just a few minutes each day doing something that helps you explore yourself - meditating, journaling, doing a creative project, going to coffee or dinner alone. Once you've done it a few times, the initial scariness will likely wear off and it'll get easier.
Journal your thoughts. I cannot recommend enough spending some time each day journaling about whatever suits you. This could be simply about your day, a gratitude list, random thoughts, goals for the future. The list is endless, but putting your thoughts down on paper so you can see them in black and white, then re-read them is a priceless tool in better understanding yourself.
Find some creative outlets. Finding things that bring joy into your life is so important, for several reasons, and also helps you find your true self. This might take some exploring and projects that turn into failures, but just start to try some things out that sound interesting to you. For instance, I used to really enjoy crocheting and knitting but have seen a decline in interest throughout the years. I eventually let it drop when I was no longer finding enjoyment out of it, which opened up time to find a true joy, photography. Here, it's okay to start things, then not finish them. As long as you give it enough time to test the waters, it's more about the exploration and learning more about what makes you happy. See if you can find a couple of hobbies or interests that allow you to feel more alive and you find yourself getting lost in, when time flies and you have no idea where it went to. These are going to be golden areas of helping you get closer to being your true self.
Take breaks from social media. This is going to be a big one for me in 2018. I found that over the past year, I started to develop a bit of an addiction to social media, specifically Instagram. While I love looking through my feed and getting inspiration from others, I was really spending far too much time on it. Another thing I started to notice was that I was absorbing other people's ideas and would only post things I thought other people would like or things I saw other people doing. I began asking myself why I do this, especially when there were times I really didn't enjoy getting the picture and felt no connection to the content, and I found that the answer came back to, "Well, I saw someone else post it on their account." What!? That's not authentic at all; it's just copying another person's work. Social media can be a lovely, empowering, inspiring place, but too much time on it can begin to stifle your inner voice. Take breaks from flipping through your feed or limit yourself to only a certain amount of time each day. That way you have more time to do the first three tips.
Ask yourself, "Why do I think this?" Checking in with ourselves on a regular basis is the building block to being authentic. If we don't know our why, how are we supposed to be true to ourselves? As mentioned above, this can be asking yourself why I'm choosing to post about this on social media, but it can extend to all aspects of our lives - politics, food choices, clothing, gender roles, relationships - the list goes on. Beliefs you have had your whole life, ones that you're not quite able to remember when or how they were formed, are the perfect ones to use this on. Often, we are just following in the footsteps of our parents or people we look up to. There's nothing inherently wrong with this; however, spend some time asking yourself, "Why?" "Do I actually believe this? If so, what's my basis for having this belief?" This isn't to say you shouldn't have the same beliefs as your loved ones or mentors, but knowing for yourself why you hold a belief will make it far stronger and more meaningful. This is going to be another huge one for me this year.
Talk things out with people you trust. One of the best ways I started to figure out who I am was by talking things through and debating with my best friend. She is open minded, loving, and understanding, making her the perfect person to explore and test things out with. Because she has loved me unconditionally and isn't afraid to call me out, I've been able to talk to her about beliefs that I've either gotten from my parents or new beliefs I'm trying to develop. She'll point out contradictions in my thinking and ask that difficult question above, "Why do you think that?" Find someone who isn't going to judge you for trying to figure out who you are, and even better if they will challenge you along the way.
So, with your journal, creativity, no social media, and questions in tow go spend some alone time, then go see your people to work through those thoughts. I hope this has been helpful in getting you closer to finding your authentic self. I'll certainly be working on this throughout the year with you all. Let me know in the comments if this is something you're also working on and what you've found helpful so far.
Know that there is a light that shines bright within you; you are deserving of letting that out into the world and being loved for it.