For me, authenticity is one of the most important goals of yoga. After all, we come to our mats time and time again to better understand ourselves and learn to accept and love ourselves exactly as we are. Being authentic means you stop trying to hide your faults. You stop trying to change yourself to please others. You accept yourself without judgement and you wear all your strengths and weaknesses like a badge of honor--no apologies.
But as awesome as authenticity is, there's an important tool that I've found to be quite helpful: Faking it! While faking it might seem like the opposite of authenticity, I notice that, certain ways, faking it can actually lead me closer to my authentic self.
Fake Cheerfulness. Somedays it's really challenging to manage Kailash's behaviors - trying to understand a non-verbal 3.5 year old who is wired totally differently from John and myself. Last week I was getting ready for one of my weekly yoga classes. Kailash was overwhelmed, obsessed with hurting Maya, smashing plates, throwing books off the shelf - it was not pretty! I left in a huff, my nostrils flaring, so angry at the fact I seem to have no control yet can't tolerate this behaviour. Definitely not an energy you want to bring with you into a yoga space--especially if you're teaching! But as students trickled in, I greeted them with a cheerful smile and asked how their day had been. Initially, my cheerfulness was forced, not authentic at all. But within 5 minutes, I forgot all about the fight and realized that I really did feel cheerful and happy.
Fake Calmness. You know when you're upset about something and someone tells you take a deep breath? Yoga practitioners know that when you lengthen the breath, you can sort of trick your nervous system into believing you are calm and peaceful even if you're feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. By faking out your nervous system you actually start to feel calmer, which I think is one of reasons yoga is such an amazing stress reliever in the first place.
Fake Meditation. I admit it. I am a fake meditator. I sit up on my meditation pillow nearly every day, close my eyes, and pretend to meditate. I think to myself: OK. I'm going to meditate now... Here I go! Breathe in. Breathe out. But did I hear Maya stirring? What am I going to cook for dinner? When am I going to pack orders, reply to emails, etc. Maybe I should be doing that now! Oops… I'm distracted. Better get back to meditating! Breathe in. Breathe out.
Sometimes I go through a dialogue like this and only have moments of awareness. When my timer goes off, I wonder if what I've just done counts as meditation at all. But even pretend meditating sometimes leads to real connection to Truth. The more I sit on a regular basis (fake or not), the more quickly I can find that mindfulness.