Authenticity & Mindfulness – two sides of the same coin

Authenticity & Mindfulness – two sides of the same coin

Veena Sethuraman

TedX Speaker, Head Learning & Development, InMobi


Even as I write down these two words as the topic, I am compelled to add the disclaimer that, I am writing this piece, not from the perspective of an expert on this subject. Rather, from the perspective of a curious learner who strives to explore the full meaning of these two powerful terms.

Well…there lies the irony. Will I ever be able to understand the full meaning of such intense words? Will anyone ever be able to comprehend the full sense of what these 2 words offer to this universe?

At a high level, the definition of authenticity is being true to self and others. Being genuine and real.

And mindfulness is being aware of the self, others and the environment, the impact each of this could have on the other.

While I believe that whatever I may have understood about authenticity and mindfulness is just the tip of the iceberg, even that seems to be a massive piece. A piece which will help me see through many people and experiences. Then again, did I say, it is like a treasure box?

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The more I search, the more I get. The more I get, the more I am awed.

Two sides of the same coin

So, the treasure I am awed about recently is the realisation that, authenticity and mindfulness are the 2 sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other. Authenticity without mindfulness is a void vessel making a lot of noise. Mindfulness without authenticity is a sponge sucking all the liquid and holding it.

With this realisation, I looked around and observed.

  • It could be a very successful person who is trying to be authentic by giving a harsh feedback to a colleague who is going through grief and believing that this feedback is “required” for the person in grief to overcome it.
  • It could be a life partner who is trying to be mindful of the energy created at home, in front of the kids by tolerating all the pain without expressing self while experiencing abuse from the spouse.
  • It could be a rigid and tough parent trying to be authentic to the demands of the “role” as a parent, by not being mindful of the impact they are creating for the kids.

As I observe more people and their experiences, I am gradually realising that being direct in communication can many times be perceived by self as authentic. Similarly, being passive and tolerating can be perceived by self as being mindful. Hence, I am compelled to infer that one cannot practice authenticity without being mindful and vice versa.

As I dive deeper to explore this iceberg, beyond its tip, I am humming to myself…

Miles to go before I sleep…

Miles to go before I sleep.

As you dive deeper, I invite you to reflect on the following:

  • In the situations, you think you are authentic, how much mindful are you?
  • In the situations, you think you are mindful, how much are you allowing yourself to be authentic?
  • In both the situations above, what are you unable to do or would like to do more?

Do you have the answers ready? Great! We are at a good place to start with.

Happy living with authenticity & mindfulness!

Please do leave your comments at the bottom and do share with others if you like this article.

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Col Vijay Batra, Sena Medal(Gallantry)Mona JainmmmmMukta Karkare Recent comment authors
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Mukta Karkare
Mukta Karkare

Hi Veena, Thats so thoughtful write up. Aren’t these contradicting aspects of the coin (authenticity and mindfulness ). As authenticity is purely connect with self whereas mindfulness brings the environment and people around self into the picture. Both may or may not affect each other depending upon various situations. How one can retain authenticity while being mindful. As aunthenticy is being true to self and mindfulness is considering environment and being tolerant. How one can be true to self while being toleratent and passive!!
Or is it all about finding a correct balance!!

Veena Sethuraman

Hi Mukta, Thank you for bringing up this very relevant question. I used to have the same perspective/doubt that you have shared. And over the time my take on this has changed. So, here is my take on this as a response to your question. While authenticity may be related to self, as human beings, if we intend to be authentic, we also have the responsibility to pass that intention to other people in our transactions with them. Only that intention based action matters. Being just authentic within, without being able to translate it to our actions or not being… Read more »

Sonal Kothari

“being direct in communication can many times be perceived by self as authentic. Similarly, being passive and tolerating can be perceived by self as being mindful.” Resonate. Simply explained. Enjoyed reading it. The examples helped a lot :)!

Veena Sethuraman

Thank you so much Sonal 🙂

Mona Jain
Mona Jain

Good topic, Veena! It is indeed a struggle to understand the terms, interpret them as applicable to oneself and then be cognizant of them in our daily interactions – going to chew on this for quite some time 🙃

Col Vijay Batra, Sena Medal(Gallantry)
Col Vijay Batra, Sena Medal(Gallantry)

Veena compliments for choosing two wonderful, deep meaning, inter-connected and deep impact words. As an ‘Entrepreneur in the Battlefield’ three A’s have deep impact-Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity. Authentic is related to self and one has to mindfully attain that as not all of us are authentic or perceived as authentic. Awareness in its wholesome form is Mindfulness. These two words in their combined manifestation in a given situation create a compatible attitude.Conscious self (Authentic) military leader mindful of the battlefield condition despite the fog of the war(VUCA), dangers, challenges and options available forms an attitude leading to a behaviour (action)… Read more »