Saturday, May 9, 2009

#42 Are You, You?

I just read a review about a book called Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken, by John Robbins. I just love that title and I love some other things the author said. He says that when you talk to people about being authentic, they respond with answers like, "I don't have that in me", or "I care too much what people think". It's that last sentence that caught my attention. It got me thinking about, well, me.

Do I care what other people think? Uh, Yeah! Am I authentic? I could probably debate that I'm more real than some and less real than others. Interestingly, during my last 5 hour marathon yoga history/philosophy class, one topic discussed by the visiting grand poobah was The Authentic Self/Selves. People say that things come to you when you most need them. Well, maybe there's some kind of cosmic phenomena directing me to revisit my authentic self. I mean, I think I have one ... although I may have to peel off some "public" layers first to find her.

As children, we don't have roles to play and so we are truly authentic in every emotion. Do you think a child having a tantrum is caring about what others are thinking, or worrying about how she must look to those watching, or that her nose is running and she's farted out loud? I think not. Robbins says that if we are authentic in our actions and interactions, we might get some odd reactions, but at least they're real.

A few weeks ago, I had a "real interaction". I was in a class with other members of my immersion study group when I was asked what I thought of the 5 hour class the previous week. Although I was a little worried about sharing this with people I didn't know that well, and who have years invested in Anusara yoga, I was able to share how lost and bewildered I was during the lecture, and how much I didn't want to be there after the first hour... and yet I sat there feeling stupid and sorry for myself. I shared how I slowly scooched my way behind a large person sitting in front of me and that for the remaining hours I hid in the sea of 50 attendees, taking notes and not making any eye contact with the Yogi nor with anyone else. There was dead silence after I was done speaking. After a minute or two, another person let out this long breath and thanked me for speaking so openly because she too was feeling lost [in a different way than me] and needed to share. I'm 99% sure that had I not been so open and honest first, she would not have confided in us. Robbins tells us that if someone shares first and from the heart, then the reaction from others is often "Thank God I don't have to hold up this mask [any longer], it's exhausting!". I truly believe this is what happened.

Recently, I was at an occasion where our hosts stood in the center of the room and thanked those of us attending. The husband spoke beautifully and from the heart, and told everyone how glad he was that his wife's cancer was treated and how happy he felt that they were together to share this wonderful day. When he said the "C" word, it caught my attention. Usually, talking about cancer is caged in euphemisms like tumor and illness and malignancy. He said the word cancer - out loud and at a party. I leaned over to my husband and said, this is a man who isn't scared of the power of a word. Authenticity, Robbins says, "is practicing whatever it is you're feeling" at that moment. Our host, at that moment, felt that he [and his family] had fought the C-devil and won. We, his guests, heard his heart sing out with gratitude for his family's good fortune while he praised the bravery of his valiant warrioress.

I was going to try write this babble about my search for the authentic me, but I decided, it was more interesting to discover the authentic me while finding and seeking it in others. This is what I'm telling you [and me too] -- I believe that societal constraints make it hard to create a life that reflects the true you 100% of the time. However, the idea of the person you want to be, feel good being, and want to wear in front of others, should be like your most comfortable pair of sweats... something you've had for years and feel at ease wearing anywhere and with anyone. Mr. Robbins says, "On our path of growth, we need to trust ourselves". This, for me then, will be where I begin.

Quote of the day: If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves. Thomas Edison

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