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What does it mean to be authentic?
Authencity is defined as “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified. Not false or copied; genuine; real.”
The journey to living your authenticity is reclaiming your inner freedom to be you. It is becoming intimate with your inner world through self-awareness. It is unraveling the stories and conditioning, and not letting the outside world define, confine, or limit your capacity. It is tuning into your autonomy and reconnecting with your inner guidance to discover what is truly aligned with you.
This means loving yourself, trusting yourself, accepting yourself, forgiving yourself, listening to yourself, being yourself.
Ayurveda, the holistic healing system from India, offers guidance through the Vedic teachings to support the inner path of self-discovery and self-awareness, understanding our true nature, and how to align our everyday choices to support our highest good and our dharma.
Why is this important? The outer world influences and creates us—by our family, teachers, social media, peers, entertainment, and more. All these experiences become how we think we are supposed to be, what’s right or wrong, what’s acceptable or unacceptable—often connected to shame, guilt, insecurities, and distrust.
We want guidance and we need it to learn how to live this human life. However, it also takes the focus away from our internal guidance, our intuition, heart wisdom, and unique nature by being plugged into the outer world.
As humans, we seek approval. We want to fit in, to connect, to feel safe and a part of something. These influences shape who we are, create the person we think we are, and guide our decisions in life.
We are stimulus-oriented, meaning we are attracted to impulses that cause a reaction, altered states of awareness, or aggravate our mind-body connection. Chaos seems more attractive than peace. Even if we declare a desire for more balance, the endless stimulus wins our attention, addictions, choices, and resources.
What happens amid this dominating influence that prevails with the support of big business, corporate influences, pharmaceutical agendas, and social media’s intelligent tactics to keep us plugged in? There is an inner disturbance, a loss of self, of autonomy, of empowered choices to live our highest potential.
Many individuals feel they have done everything they were taught to do and yet they are still unhappy. People are stressed, sleep-deprived, eating processed foods while driving or on their computers, taking pharmaceuticals to cover the anxiety, depression, heart issues, and pain.
Our minds are thinking thoughts all day long and most are not true. Our nervous systems are in constant flight or fight. The world is egging us on to keep going, keep spinning our wheels in order to find respect, self-worth, and success.
What happens when we slow down, when we listen to our bodies, to our hearts, or connect to our breath and relax? We can begin the inner journey of self-realization and cultivate inner happiness that is independent of the outer world. We can begin to observe and witness our thoughts and realize they are just a thought and not who we truly are—they come and they go but something deeper within has always and will always be there at the core of our being.
The Vedas, which includes Ayurveda and Yoga, offer teachings and practices to cultivate inner awareness, purifying the mind and body, offering the possibility of true autonomy, authenticity, and inner peace. Vedic Counseling is dharmic guidance on right living, right action, right relationship, and right awareness, life guidance for healing, and optimal well-being for the body, mind, and consciousness. This natural healing system explores self-knowledge and cosmic knowledge, incorporating spiritual teachings and healing disciplines.
Here are five practices to support the journey within:
Meditation offers a time to be quiet where we can drop into deeper stillness, helping to destress, calm the mind and the nervous system. When we take the time to just be, we can begin to cultivate a greater awareness of the mind and its tendencies. Focusing on the breath helps to create space in between the thoughts by having something specific to concentrate on. The breath also helps to bring us into our parasympathetic nervous system, allowing the inhales and exhales to soothe our overactive systems.
Try meditating daily for 10 to 20 minutes by sitting comfortably on the floor or in a chair with your feet on the ground. Focus on your breath—inhale, exhale, and pause in between them. Try counting four counts for each part, allowing the mind to focus on just breathing, helping to be present; if the mind wanders off, return to the breath. Use a timer for meditation so you are not wondering how many minutes have passed.
Traditionally, yoga was designed for purification, awakening consciousness, and supporting a deeper sense of harmony through asana, pranayama, and mantra. These practices help to discover and cultivate an inner power that opens into an expansive consciousness, ultimately leading to purpose (dharma) and contentment (santosha). Daily yoga practice is important to establish greater balance, inner peace, and an intimate experience of the self, cultivating self-awareness and higher knowledge. The ritual is designed to continually flush our systems of the impurities of human life and is considered to offer a path to true freedom and inner happiness.
Try incorporating yogic practices into your daily routine. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an hour, even taking three to five minutes for pranayama (breathwork) will shift your awareness, allowing the prana to purify mind and body. Doing five sun salutations will increase your inner fire, or tapas, helping to move stagnant energy and burn off impurities. Mantra, sacred sound, is always available, whether out loud or eternally. The tone vibrations help to unlock the subconscious impulse, bringing clarity to body, mind, and spirit.
3. Walking in Nature
The natural environment offers many healing qualities. Taking time to connect to nature, breathing in the prana and feeling the connection to Earth is grounding and clearing. The pace of walking, the rhythmic steps, and breathing, allows the nervous system and mind to relax, with time, releasing the stimulating impulses of everyday life. Being immersed in nature connects us to the cycles of nature, the natural intelligence, which is at the core of all life. It reminds us that we are enough as we are, that our “imperfections” are our gifts, that life is impermanent, and that the power of prana flows through everything.
We begin to feel in awe of the greater environment in which we spin our human lives, often in unnatural environments made with toxic products, on pavement, and in fast-moving cars. Finding our way back to nature will always support our overall well-being and highest good.
Try taking time to be in nature, even for a few minutes. During a work break, make sure to take a few minutes to connect to the natural world and breathe it in. Find a trail or walk out your front door and walk with nature.
4. Sleep Routine
Having a daily sleep routine is how we relax, restore, and renew. This influences our overall health and longevity. When and how much we sleep affects our physiology—the brain, body, tissues, and digestion. When we don’t have a healthy sleep cycle, or go to bed by a certain time and sleep for seven to eight hours, it takes a toll on our body’s natural intelligence to destress, detox, and restore during the night.
People speak of “a second wind” that energizes them to continue to stay awake after 10 p.m. Yes, a fresh wave of energy begins then, however, that energy is to be used internally, activated by the pitta dosha from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., in order to assimilate, process, and transform. When we remain awake during these hours, we use that energy externally, causing deeper depletion over time and disrupting all body systems. The best practice is to sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., waking up within one hour of sunrise, optimizing the natural intelligence of nature and our own innate cycles.
5. Alone Time
Taking time to be alone is a great way to cultivate self-awareness and discover your inner you. This means unplugging from phones, social media, podcasts, and screens, helping to calm the external stimulation and influences that greatly affect our thoughts and nervous systems. Feel your system relaxing as it unwinds from modern-day impulses. These impulses distract us from having to look within and listen. However, looking within is where we find our true nature, our inner guidance, listening to what our body needs, and listening to softer intuitive wisdom that is highly intelligent.
Make sure to unplug daily and enjoy being with yourself. Take this time for self-care practices, honoring your body, mind, and spirit.
Try incorporating these practices daily or weekly. The inner journey isn’t plugged into the egoic excitement and stimulus. It offers a deep exploration of self, of our true nature and essence. It reveals our purest form—free to be yourself, to be authentic. True happiness and contentment come from within, awakening consciousness, and allowing that to inform your everyday life.