By Sheena LaShay
“I like that your philosophy is about living in an authentic way. This is something I desire to do. Do you have any suggestions as to how to get back to one’s authentic self? I feel my soul urging me do it. I want to get back to the core of my being.” – a note from a reader.
Discovering Your SELF
I figured I was a certified adult after college. However, upon some self-reflection, I realized I hadn’t been living on my own terms. I lived my life being told what to do. I spent my childhood abiding by the rules of the church and my family. In college, I found myself signing a “community covenant” agreeing to all the things I wouldn’t do and affirming the beliefs I had faith in. Then, after college and that yearly covenant, I asked myself, “Are any of these thoughts, ideas, beliefs and urgings mine? Do I really feel this way? Left to my own devices, what comes to mind?” That simple question led to a spiritual journey and lifestyle change with a focus on authenticity and personal power. I wish this for everyone and here are some suggestions on getting back to one’s authentic self.
“What do I believe in?”
“What do I know to be true?”
“What makes me come alive?”
“What am I passionate about?”
“What riles me up?”
“What sets me off?” <– (Aside from listing my passions, I’ve learned that the things that set me off or piss me off are things that grate against what my life values are. For example if you just HATE when people cut others off when they are talking, maybe a life value for you is that you believe people should be able to use their voice and that they should be heard.)
After asking those questions, ask yourself WHY? How did you come to those certainties, ideas and philosophies? Were you told to believe that? Did you have a life experience that showed that specific philosophy to be true for you? Is there an inner knowing without a shadow of a doubt? Really take the time to explore what you know, why you know it and whether it’s something you want to keep affirming. Maybe after all the questions, you might find a new truth for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with evolving, changing or trying a new path that brings you to a more authentic existence.
Explore the World
Challenge yourself. Try new things, even if they seem crazy. You might discover it’s exactly what you need. Go to a place where you don’t know anyone, even if it’s a cafe on the other side of town. You don’t have to go to India and Rome to have your next epiphany. It’s nice, but it could also happen by taking a different street on your way home.
Read books about a variety of topics. Read books on creativity. Read fiction books. Read books on sustainability. Read books on any and every thing. Take note of what phrases speak to your heart, mind and spirit.
Be open. Be open to new people, new schools of thoughts and new experiences. Be open even if it’s not what you believe in. Be open even if you disagree. Be open to the world at large.
Engage your senses. What do you like to SEE? Go sit at a cafe and just watch the world. What sounds do you like to HEAR? Listen to a genre of music you never would have. Just do it for the experience. What do you hear around you right now? What textures can you FEEL? Touch the world. Touch the grass. Feel the slice of mango in your hands as you lift it to your mouth to eat. What does the world TASTE like and SMELL like to you? What smell soothes you? What smell delights you? What smell wakes your body up? Try a new dish. Take the time to taste the next person you kiss. Let your orange juice linger in your mouth the next time you take a gulp? How does your body respond to everything? Being present to the world and in your body shows that you are in tune. When you are in tune with yourself, what delights you? What delights you is part of your authentic nature. Live in your delight!
Commune and Connect
Another way to get back to your SELF, along with doing introspective musings on your values, passion and purpose, is to also connect with the world at large. Talk with strangers. Talk with friends. Listen to their life stories. Register what bits of their lives resonate and speak to you.
When you do these things, you start to find what you are passionate about. When you find your passions, create room for them everywhere. Seek out opportunities that allow you to live in your passion. If the opportunity isn’t there, MAKE the opportunity. Create events, small dinner parties and picnic days with people who are passionate about your passions too.
Where do you find people to connect with? Everywhere! Maybe your neighbor is just as passionate about baking as you are. Have you tried meetup.com? What about that knitting club you like on Facebook? Converse with other people in that group. Become their friend, and if they are in the same town, meet for coffee. Do a search on twitter with a #hashtag word to find other people with a passion for something you love and build those relationships.
Create Your Own Journey Back to Self
There are many other ways to get back to our authentic selves. I believe meditation and stillness bring our inner voice to the surface. I believe engaging with and creating various forms of art helps our authentic selves shine through. I think the more we learn to let go and release, the more we’ll find the core of our selves. When we release the agendas, the storyline, the ego, the past and even our hurt, we find the tenderness of our heart. I believe writing and journaling are another way to journey back to our authentic selves. In addition to all of these suggestions, another way I found my authentic self was through compassionate self love. If you want to tap into authenticity, love yourself purely. Show yourself compassion. Be gentle with your heart and see where that gentleness leads you.
All in all, to get back to who you really are and to live in that authenticity is a journey that is different for everyone. Whether you’re engaging your senses, reading books or practicing self love, I believe the core of this is to explore, experiment and express.
In case it does help, some of the books that helped me along the way, in no particular order, are…
Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential by Caroline Myss
The Artist Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
The Memory Room by Mary Rakow
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron
Do you feel you’re living your most authentic life? How did you get to a place of authenticity and do you have suggestions for those on a journey back to self? If you are currently working towards authenticity, what has been your biggest challenge so far?
I wish for you an incredible existence full of magic, authenticity and love. Have a great day.
Sheena LaShay is a writer, siren and artist that seeks to inspire you to live an authentic and powerful life. You can also find Sheena at www.SheenaLaShay.com.