What is Authentic Relating?
In the world of yoga, where authenticity, honesty and truthfulness are a big plus, a new term has been popping up lately, which is Authentic Relating. Originally brought into the field of relationship coaching and conscious communication in the late 1970`s, Authentic Relating is a modality that is centered around expressing one’s true feelings and emotions, showing vulnerability and allowing oneself to connect fully from heart to heart with one another.
What is usually hidden, held back or not expressed, finds an honest outlet for expression here to create new pathways how to deeply and authentically relate to one another. Authentic Relating Games as well as workshops are therefore a playful modality to find new forms of communication to connect. They offer a creative approach with each other to learn how to honestly honor our feelings by listening carefully and staying true to our values.
Authentic Relating has a lot to do with working together with others. By sharing uncomfortable emotions in group settings and by finding creative ways in building trust through gentle touch, movement or playful guidance through the room, deeper connections are formed. Furthermore, inner perceptions can completely transform because of new outer experiences.
Stephanie Dickinson and Cyrus Irani participated at BaliSpirit Festival with an Authentic Relating Workshop and shine a light on the benefits here:
What Authentic Relating helps with is not only to relate better with each other in an intimate partnership, but also with relationships in general, such as with colleagues and bosses at work, family members and acquaintances. Furthermore, it´s a great tool to relate more deeply to oneself, as it brings the focus again and again to one’s feelings, needs and boundaries. By using conscious forms of dialogue, mirroring, mindset, body awareness and feeling, it shines a light on every situation from various angles, which one alone would often not see.
What happens in an Authentic Relating Workshop or Games Night?
If you attend an Authentic Relating event, be prepared to be seen. And be prepared to mingle with utter strangers, sharing your deepest feelings, dreams and insights with them. Basically it means getting so real with yourself that you don´t hold back to anyone, be it a friend or a new person you just met. Most of the exercises are centered around meeting in groups of three or four people, sometimes in pairs, to look each other deeply into the eyes, souls and hearts.
There is a lot of talking and sharing involved, a lot of listening, and a lot of perceiving: Is this what I´m feeling right now true? Is this what I´m saying really my reality? Is this what I´m hearing really what you are saying? And above all, how do you feel when you say this?
Sometimes very deep emotions can surface by simple sharing practices. Sometimes unexpected energy in the body rises, sometimes the view point on a situation completely shifts, by sharing the thoughts about it to the public. It´s a fascinating approach to consciousness and the connection of opening the voice to also open the heart.
What Authentic Relating is not
If you think of Authentic Relating as a cool new way to meet new people and have a good chat together, you´ll be disappointed. Authentic Relating gets right into the nitty gritty emotional waters, which are deep below the small talk. It cuts out the acting, playing bigger than or smaller than, the judgement, self-criticism and societal masks. The exercises are a way to hold space for each other, which simply means, speaking from your heart and listening with intention.
Listening with intention means to fully be present with the person whose turn it is to speak, tuning in to their feelings, their posture and their actions, and holding the space for them to let the emotions surface which are ready to be seen and felt. It´s opposed to what we can call toxic listening, when one party is simply waiting for the other to finish as quickly as possible, to speak him- or herself.
In the space of presence with deep listening, without the need to respond, to save anyone or to give advice, transformation happens instantly. It can be very uncomfortable at first to openly share deep emotions in a group or to strangers, to be right in the spotlight with unwanted or unexpected feelings. But it can also reveal deeper strength, deeper insights and deeper truth behind a situation, which would otherwise be covered up by the chatter of the mind!
Liberating your Feelings through Authentic Relating
In short, Authentic Relating allows you to be who you truly are. In a society where everyone tends to say all is fine, rather then talk about uncomfortable feelings, vulnerability and personal challenges, it´s breeze of fresh air to simply allow yourself to say what you feel and listen to others do the same.
By doing this, you instantly create a deeper bond with the people around you, connecting on an emotional and heart level that traverses the level of the mind. What often can seem incorrectly, too emotional or not wanted in the usual settings of our society, gets a place here. What cannot be spoken out loud in relationships, because it seems too much, gets a space here. Whatever seems to be a challenge that only you are facing, gets a space here. And more often then not it shows that others went through the same experience before.
And when you tune into the power of this form of relating, a big burden is lifted off your shoulders and you feel lighter, more open, enlightened and receptive to all the good life and relationships have to offer to you!
written by Anna SOFIA