Authentic Living Series: A series of 4 sessions, organised by NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health, from the 19th to 22nd July, 2022. This programme was conceptualised and facilitated with the intent of exploring and practising tools and strategies that empower us towards living our lives embedded in consciousness, purpose, positivity and resilience. The series consisted of 1.5 hour sessions scheduled between 4 to 5:30 pm IST, and each covered 4 fundamental aspects.
Day 1. Mindfulness - I am here.
Day 2. Positivity - I am grateful to be here.
Day 3. Purpose - I know why I am here.
Day 4. Resilience - I am here, standing strong in the face of adversity.
The sessions began with a moment of silence and an aspiration to experience, ‘The Truth of our being’. This aspiration found translation in an appreciative enquiry to explore and co create a space which allows authenticity to blossom. What do we mean, when we use the word Authentic - Being true to who we really are and living our lives through that awareness? This naturally brings us to the question - “Who am I?” And this question in itself is deeper than the deepest ocean. The Authentic Living Series has evolved as a result of an aspiration, to initiate the sprouting of the seed of this question, by internalizing it and nourishing it, so it blossoms forth into clarity of Truth.
Day 1: Started with a moment of silence followed by the Shanti Mantra Chant. After briefly introducing the topic of study, the structure of the Authentic Living Series was shared with the participants. Beginning with what do we really mean by Authenticity - ‘Being true to oneself’, the session delved deeper into Mindfulness - “The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.
After understanding that the first step to any transformation is Awareness and how Mindfulness can help us with that, The Core Components of Mindfulness were discussed: Attention | Open Awareness | Acceptance | Non-Identification | Choice. Each of these aspects was covered one by one.
The session on Day 1 concluded with a mindfulness breathing exercise, which gave an opportunity to the participants to practise all that was covered through the session.
Day 2: After a moment of silence and peace chanting, the session began with an activity – CircleCity – wherein the participants, in 60 seconds, turned as many of the blank circles as they could, into recognisable objects. The participants shared their observations and how uniquely each person saw the same blank circles was discussed. The role of Perception and conditioning was briefly touched upon.The link between Authenticity and Mindfulness was brought to the forefront.
Authenticity - Being true to oneself - directs us to a pertinent question - “Who Am I?”
Some questions which help us to introspect this on a deeper level - Am I what I am experiencing or am I different from what I experience? Am I the body, breath, thoughts, emotions, senses, mind…?
The participants saw through a simple example of how we observe a glass of water through the sense of sight. Through this experience, some ground rules for further exploration were set: ‘That which I experience, I am not’.
In the similar way I am not my body, thoughts, emotions, mind, senses, breath and so on, as I can clearly observe them. They become the object of my observation or experience. This brought us to the next question which follows, If not all this, then, “Who Am I?”
The awareness for which the mind is an object of experience is called, “The witness consciousness, Sakshi” This was followed by exploring the first 4 of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, that interlink the aforementioned concepts together: 1:1 atha yogānuśasānam | 1:2 yoga cittaviṛtti nirodhaḥ | 1:3 tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe avasthānam | 1:4 vṛitti sārūpyam itaratra
The session progressed on how we can take conscious steps in experiencing the bliss – that is at the core of our being, on a day-to-day basis. How can we invite Positivity in our life? Based on the research by Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson in the field of positive emotions the core truth about positive emotions were shared with the participants.
1. Positive emotions open our mind
2. Positive emotions transform us
The importance of enhancing our emotional literacy by building our vocabulary to describe various positive emotions like - joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love, was highlighted. Ways in which we could consciously build our positivity portfolio, which may serve as a ready reckoner for us to call upon specific positive emotions, especially when the going gets tough, was explored. The session ended with introducing participants with a gratitude practice - three good things, which allows for the habit of gratitude to grow stronger. The participants were also given another task to explore, to write a letter of appreciation for someone who may have impacted them positively.
Day 3: Followed by a moment of silence, a quick recap of the proceedings of Day 1 and Day 2 was provided. The agenda for Day 3 - Purpose, was set.
Terms that would be used through the session, which allow us to be aligned towards being purposeful were defined in the context of their usage - Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values.
Purpose being A central, self organising life aim, a predominant theme of a person’s life, which motivates intentions to dedicate resources in particular directions and towards particular goals.
The question, “What can help me connect with my purpose”, was taken up. And Values, what we give importance to in our lives, was highlighted as being one of the starting points. Values are like a GPS which can guide us through our life, especially when we are in the midst of crossroads taking some important decisions. Some questions that can aid this process of unfurling one’s values and purpose were shared. The critical aspects inherent in Values were listed and discussed one by one. Some Value-Driven Behaviors which reflect as a result of living our values were listed. Strategies which can help in the value clarification process were discussed, some examples being: What do you cherish? | Aladdin’s lamp: What are your 3 wishes? | One minute Autobiography | The Legacy Exercise.
Day 4: Starting with a moment of silence, the participants were taken through a chanting exercise. Chanting the first four sutras from the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, which were already introduced earlier. The chanting exercise also incorporated the core components of Mindfulness in it. This was followed by a brief summary of the three sessions held before. And the topic of focus for the day - Resilience was introduced and defined as
The ability - To navigate through adversity | Grow from the challenges | Flexibly adapt to the challenging demands of a stressful experience
This was followed by listing out the critical variables which enable Resilience and each of the critical variables were discussed one by one. (Self - Awareness | Self Regulation | Mental Agility | Realistic Optimism | Self Mastery ||Connections | Positive Institutions).
In the end the participants shared their experiences, observations and things that they found useful through the course of these 4 days. The sessions concluded, with gratitude and appreciation for the precious presence and participation from all the participants.
The main focus of the sessions was on how simple and practical tools and strategies can help us become more aware of ourselves. Awareness being the starting point towards bringing about any change. This awareness can then be translated into conscious steps – behavior and action included. Participants were encouraged to experience through activities and exercises the core concepts of Mindfulness, Positivity, Purpose and Resilience. The importance of taking a Pause, every now and then in favour of gaining awareness of the present moment was highlighted. The role of the mind and the complexities of its functioning - thoughts, emotions, perceptions, conditioning, were touched upon. The need for us to be able to use the instrument of the mind as a mirror reflecting our divine core was emphasised. The role of choice and how sometimes we let go of our freedom by becoming automatic in our responses was discussed. The participants shared their key take away and what they found helpful through the course of 4 days.
“It was perfect: course content, the facilitator and the flow.”
“Nitasha is a wonderful presenter full of positivity.”
“Thank you Nitashaji always a pleasure to listen to you. Your teachings are clear and presented with a strong and beautiful insight.”
“Nitasha, Today’s session was wonderful. For someone who was searching for happiness all around, finding where it lies happened today. You beautifully explained the power of now, how to become an observer and how our mind gets used to a closed and limited way of thinking.
And the true realisation would be to stop the vchatter to which the mind gravitates and indulges into.”