Authenticity: A Closer Look
by: Chopra Center University

The desire to live authentically is a natural drive within each of us. At root, this movement towards greater authenticity stems from our nature as unique and self-expressive beings. The self that we truly are is always seeking to manifest itself ever more fully.

As we look at the world around us, we see that no two things are identical. No two snowflakes are ever the same – nor are they intended to be. Rather, each form is a distinct expression, and this applies to us as well. The universe does not intend our life to be a copy of someone else’s life. We are each magnificently unique, and the inner impulse to express this is what drives us to be authentic.

Authenticity and Its Manifestation in Our Life

During some phases, our drive to be authentic focuses more on the outward structures and activities of our lives. We seek to change these so that they are more aligned with who we really are − or who we want to become. For instance, we might change jobs, change careers, change living situations, or change relationships. This is fueled by wanting to break free from old conditioning, forms, and self-images that no longer serve us.

As our self-awareness continues to unfold, we come to view our self in evermore expanded terms. Through yoga, meditation, spiritual work, or other consciousness-raising activities, a much deeper self begins to emerge within us − as well as a growing desire to integrate this deeper self. This, too, is a manifestation of the authenticity drive. However, the focus here is not so much on changing things in our outer life, but on transforming our consciousness, worldviews, and inner life to better fit with the expanded self we are becoming.

Regardless of how the impulse towards authenticity is playing out in us, it carries both challenges and rewards.

Authenticity and Its Challenges

When seeking to be more authentic, challenges arise because of the need to throw off the older consciousness and ways of living that we are no longer aligned with. This is much like a snake shedding its skin. Our deeper self brings these outworn elements to our awareness and prompts us to let go of them. However, this often requires courage, strength, and conviction, and there are usually elements within us that partially resist these changes.

These resistive elements can show up both internally and externally. For instance, we may fear that we will lose something important in our life if we make the changes we are contemplating. Or we find that other people or circumstances put up barriers to the new directions we feel compelled to move in. However, because the drive for authenticity and growth is intrinsic to our nature, we will always have the resources to overcome whatever resistance arises. The deeper self that is encouraging us forward will also provide the strength and resources that we need to make the changes.

Authenticity and Its Rewards

As we overcome our internal and external challenges and make expansions into greater authenticity, we reap large rewards. A move into greater authenticity is always a move into greater levels of empowerment, creative self-expression, and overall wellbeing. This is because we are moving towards our truer and greater self. Our interactions with the world and with others become more fulfilling and more alive. Our joy and fulfillment rise to higher levels.

Authenticity and Integrity

For some forms of self-expression – such as teaching − authenticity is particularly important. This is especially true for those who are teaching personal or spiritual development. For such teachers, this dharma path requires great integrity. There must be consistency between the teacher’s own practice and what they are teaching to others. Students can usually sense whether their teachers are “walking their talk.” Before teachers can be truly successful at transmitting their knowledge and skills to others, they need to be living it themselves. When teachers authentically live their own dharma and are true to their own practice, they will bring value and empowerment to those they teach.

Tips to Cultivate Authenticity

There are many ways to foster authenticity within ourselves. Here are some paths to consider:

  1. Accept the larger self that is being progressively revealed to you.
  2. Embrace your uniqueness and express it.
  3. Develop your inner guidance and act on it.
  4. Take time to know yourself.
  5. Journal as a way to bring inner wisdom to awareness
  6. Learn more about your shadow side and seek to integrate it.
  7. Align your words, thoughts, and deeds together.
  8. Avoid thinking in terms of “should” and “have to.”
  9. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.”
  10. Be clear and truthful, and act from integrity.
  11. Be willing to show courage when authenticity calls for it.
  12. Expect that you will be challenged and be okay with this.
  13. Spend time affirming your truth and vision.
  14. Accept that you are your own ultimate authority.
  15. Live your dharma, live your practice.

Teaching as an Expression of Authenticity

For some people, teaching is a deeply authentic and fulfilling aspect of their dharma. At Chopra Center University, we have trained and certified more than 1,800 teachers worldwide and offer comprehensive teacher certification programs in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, Primordial Sound Meditation, and Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle. If you feel that teaching or sharing with others about yoga, meditation, higher consciousness, or healthy living might be part of your own authentic self-expression, then you may want to explore one of our teacher certification programs. If you’d like to learn more, then please visit Chopra Center University.

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