Learning to shed the layers of false illusion we live by. By Lauren Bloxham
Truth can be elusive, and our authenticity can be deeply hidden. Think for a moment about how you respond to the question: ‘How are you?’ Do you have a stock response, ‘I’m fine’, which resonates with a feeling of tension, depression, or resistance? Or have you heard that same stock response in others? Truth resonates in harmony with our thoughts, words, and actions… there is no dissonance to it, and that’s how we recognise it; it feels harmonious, it feels attuned, and we can trust it.
Functioning with some degree of dissonance in our lives is standard for many of us though, whether we don’t truly enjoy the work we do, but during appraisal say, ‘I’m motivated and happy’, or our relationships require us to modify ourselves and we play the role of loving partner when truly we might have feelings of the opposite. Maybe our health feels out of balance with aches, niggles, or pain, but we accept the doctor is right when they tell us nothing is wrong and accept those niggles as nothing to worry about whilst continuing to worry.
Whist dissonance can be standard, living with it without addressing it can mean we learn to forget it’s there; we function around the noise and redefine what we think ‘harmony’ is. Dissonance becomes a new baseline we call ‘normal’ and so the layers of disharmony continue. Finding our way back to authenticity and to inner harmony is our work here.
Reuniting with our truth requires us to be fully present, and may happen slowly, over time, as we peel back the layers of illusion we live by and begin to accept the truth within us. It requires us to shine the light of awareness on the roles we are playing. We can be so habituated within those roles that we begin to identify firmly with them, we believe they are us.
Maybe we live by an inherited narrative; the words spoken to us in childhood which were repeated until we learned to live by them. Whatever the truth for each of us is though, is underneath it all, and once we connect with it, we learn to draw it through all that we think, say, and do. Our authenticity can be at the centre of the work we do and the relationships we make. It can be a guiding force in how we go about living day to day.
Stepping towards truth and acknowledging it, is brave. Staying with it will take practice, and this is the very human aspect of authenticity that we very often prefer to avoid. As we begin the work of chipping away at the false narratives that diminish us or bring us tension, that tell us that our voices are invalid, we’re not good at this or that, or that we haven’t got time, we recognise resistance…and resistance is the very stuff we need to work on.
Imagine living inside a cave, and that you have only ever known the inside of the cave. Imagine that cave has paintings on the wall of sunshine and flowers, and it suggests that the cave isn’t the only place there is. It suggests that there is more beyond. We may feel so embittered by the dark walls of the cave that we convince ourselves the work isn’t worth it. Maybe we feel so desperate to escape that we work frantically at chipping away the walls of the cave until we exhaust ourselves with effort that seems futile.
Or maybe, we chip away, knowing that every chip could be a chip closer to a breakthrough, and that we have no idea whether the walls of the cave are several metres thick or only millimetre deep. This is the work. When we turn our awareness inwards in search of truth, we have no idea whether the walls of illusion will crumble on first sight, or whether we’ll be working through the resistance for years to come.
What is true, as we embark on the work of living authentically, is there will be light in places that were previously dark, that we will begin to know ourselves better along the way, however small each breakthrough we make may feel, and that as we shed those layers, moving closer all the time to living authentically, we do it with full awareness.
When we recognise that the compromises we make are sometimes necessary, or are a step towards breakthrough, we allow ourselves to stay open to the possibility that circumstances can and do change. Regardless of the time it takes, we stay focused on what is authentic for us. The thoughts, words and actions that feel most harmonious in whatever circumstances we’re in.
The practice of Balasana
Balasana, child’s pose, can be a rich practice of embodying our truth. It’s an opportunity to return to ourselves, to our roots, to settle into ease. Balasana can feel like returning home to a safe and restful space, a place where we can connect to our childlike selves, free from responsibility and obligation.
Just like children, in Balasana we can strip back the encrusted layers of adulting which accumulate to form the ‘shoulds’ that shape us. This is a pose in which we can learn to disentangle ourselves from the conformities which contort us, the pose reminds us that the inner child is still there and invites us to embody them. It’s in this embodiment that we can reconnect to the essence of our truest self.
In Balasana, take a moment to invite the inner child forward. To remember playfulness, the times that felt a million miles away, the wonder of nature, the adventurer within you. Remembering that essence can be a useful tool in chipping away the layers of false illusion. It’s a beautiful reminder of the harmony we feel when we are our truest, most authentic selves.
Practice yoga with Lauren Bloxham online (blackdogliving.com), in person in West Cornwall, or on retreat: ‘Embodying the Elements’ at Bala Brook retreat centre, Dartmoor National Park, April 20-23, 2023. Connect on Instagram @blackdogliving