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Another Way to Practice Authenticity

If you’ve been reading my work for any length of time you may know how I love to mine real life for gems that can help others (and myself) wake up to their authentic self. Yoga class is a particularly rich place for learnings and this week’s class gave me some (w)holy words that I’d like to share.

Let me start on the mat…

It’s Sunday morning and yoga class is packed. Everyone is seated on their mats and as the class begins, our teacher says we’re going to do something different today. Instead of going through the class pose to pose like most yoga classes, we’re going to start with the first pose and keep doing it (over and over) until everyone becomes comfortable with it. Then, we will move on.

List-based learning

When we’re learning, we typically move from topic to topic, skill set to skill set. Just like in high school moving subject class to subject class, we tend to do the same thing when we’re learning to be more authentic. We have a list of exercises or meditations or books, and we move from one to the other.

In my authenticity practice, my list might look like this: meditate and journal in the early a.m., spend time in creativity, maintain boundaries kindly, work on my book (for me, this is an exercise in using my authentic voice), go to Pilates or yoga.

Working your list isn’t a bad way to learn.

It’s one way.

Another way to learn

It’s a very Eastern approach to practice a basic skill over and over in order to gain mastery. I saw this when my son studied Tae Kwon Do as a young boy when the black belts practiced basic movements right alongside the white-belted newbies, with the Buddhist monks and nuns I’ve met, and Sunday in my yoga class. Even an expert will continue to study and practice a basic skill over and over. The premise is that there is always more to learn as we continue toward mastery.

Pablo Casals the brilliant cellist said it well when someone asked him why he continued to practice into his 80s and 90s: “I think I’m making progress.
I think I see some improvement

Taking time to explore all the nuances of a learning while focusing on it exclusively helps us to gain mastery of that skill.

Mastery requires time, attention and discipline. With mastery, a skill becomes embodied in our being.

Lessons from yoga class

Just as Surendran finished delivery of how our yoga class would unfold, in the quiet of my mind I groaned. I wanted my practice to run sleekly through the list of poses, so I could glide through the difficult ones and relax into the ones that I can do well. What if the first pose was something that I didn’t like? What if it wasn’t one of my best poses?

I laughed at myself (with loving awareness) as I realized that this was also a metaphor for learning to be really real.

There are things that come easy, while other learnings are more challenging.

We are works in progress.

The practice of becoming really real

A practice is training. There is no one right way and what works for some, may not work for another. However, if your practice isn’t moving you forward, your practice is not helpful.

You must find what works for you.

Sometimes, you need to dump your list and focus deeply on one learning until it becomes so comfortable for you, it becomes yours.

Like in my yoga class. (BTW, we did that first pose for 20 minutes of an hour-long class.)

A practice also involves discipline. Kind, compassionate discipline. Beating yourself (or anyone else) up isn’t discipline. It’s abuse. Be kind.

When it comes to the practice of moving more into your authentic self, it can be very challenging to learn a new skill or rid yourself of an outmoded belief. You can make a list of what you need to move closer to your really real and work that list. Or, you can pick one thing and focus on that so deeply that it becomes comfortable, yours. It’s your decision.

Coaching challenge: What skill or belief will you investigate, add or subtract to your life to move you more fully in the direction of your authentic self? Begin today.

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