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By Barbara McDowall

More and more we hear the word 'authentic', whether it be in our conversations, in our newspapers, on TV, radio or the Internet, to describe a way of living a rich and fulfilling life.  This is because living a life of authenticity has become a priority for people around the world.

Authenticity means really knowing who we are, being who we are, and becoming more of who we are meant to be - everywhere.  It means not being swayed by the opinions of others.  It means speaking our truth.  However, most of the time we unconsciously live our lives to fit in and please others.  We forget how to esteem ourselves, and in doing so we take steps away from authenticity rather than towards it. 

Esteeming ourselves is the key to transforming our lives into ones of authenticity.  The most lasting relationship we will ever have is the one that we have with our self.  Getting to know and love ourselves will help ensure that we are then successful in our relationships with others. 

This cannot happen if we are living unconsciously with our minds filled with clutter.  To know what is authentic to ourselves means we must first be able to identify who we are as individual unique people.  Creating and maintaining a spiritual foundation will assist us in slowing down and paying attention to just that.  We can then be more conscious, aware and awake to who we are and to who we aspire to be. 

Consider the following simple thoughts and ideas for change to assist in clearing the cacophony of daily living, and to help find out who you are and what you can do to increase the authenticity in your life:

Nutrition of the Mind

Old negative messages are looping constantly in our heads.  What negative messages are on 'repeat' in your mind?  Those messages need to change. The mind requires a healthy diet of books and ideas that provide new information, new ways of thinking and of being in order to change those old negative messages.  Suggested reading:  The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Coming Out Spiritually by Christian de la Huerta.  Also, check out lectures at the Learning Annex ( and other locations advertised in Toronto.


How many of us really know our own values?  Values are those things in life that define who we are.  When they are being honoured, we feel good about ourselves.  Making the time to clarify and then apply our values makes healthy decision-making and boundary setting much easier. 

Conscious Breathing

Most of us breathe up side down.  We breathe into our chests.  Breathing into our abdomen will clear toxins from our lungs and will allow us to think more calmly and clearly before responding to any situation.  Suggested reading: Conscious Breathing by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks (

Daily Spiritual Practice

Prayer and meditation are wonderful daily practices that allow us to spend time going within to deepen our connection with the wisdom of our Source.  Prayer allows us to talk to Spirit.  Meditation is listening for Spirit's response. Suggested reading: No Less Than Greatness by Mary Manin Morrissey; Illuminata by Marianne Williamson and Power of Constructive Thinking by Emmet Fox.


Regular exercise is extremely important in connecting our body, mind and spirit.  That can include yoga, tai chi, running walking, hiking, dancing and everything in between. Some people find that they can do their best meditating and connecting with spirit when they exercise. 

Spiritual Community

As we journey through life, it is important to have connection to others on a spiritual path.  Spiritual communities don't just exist in churches.  They can exist wherever like-minded people on a spiritual journey gather to support, encourage, challenge and believe in each other.  Suggestions:  Healing circles, book clubs, meditation, prayer, yoga groups, etc., Unitarian Congregations, Unity congregations, Religious Science Centres, just to name a few.

Self-knowledge is power.  The more aware and conscious of who we really are as spiritual beings, the more we will be grounded and centered in our spiritual power, our authentic selves.  As we create a daily discipline that incorporates some or all of the above, the more we will come to know all of who we are, loving and accepting ourselves and others.

The first step of that journey though, is nurturing a conscious and authentic relationship with the self.  After all, we are here to be seen fully and authentically as Spirit created us; to live fully and joyfully, fulfilling our purpose for being here.

Authentic Living