Forget the influencers – take control of your own direction

Recently, I’ve taken to browsing Facebook and Instagram before getting out of bed in the morning. The shame! It used to be The Guardian’s daily briefing but, over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself scouring social media feeds before I’ve even cleaned my teeth. Ouch! Of course, I’m not alone. At the end of last year, Facebook broke the two billion active users a month barrier, while the top five Instagram accounts have more than 100 million followers a pop. Little wonder, then, that brands are forging ever-lucrative commercial relationships with these so-called influencers.

Forget the influencers – take control of your own direction Photo Gallery

But when a company recently asked me if I would promote its brand, it dawned on me – I don’t want to be an influencer; I’d rather empower people to connect to their own authority. It’s so easy to fall under the spell of a beautifully curated Instagram feed or be motivated to hit the gym by viewing super-toned bodies in the latest workout kit, but if we’re not careful, we could easily get trapped on a self-improvement bandwagon. We may know what everyone else likes and values, but have little sense of our own wants and needs. Next time you’re envying the number of likes on someone’s Facebook post or wishing your Instagram feed was prettier, slicker or more popular, why not consider realigning your perspective? Cultivating a stronger faith in your own experience and a deeper connection to your own authority keeps you grounded, confident and strong.

1 CLOSE YOUR EYES Instead of looking outward for inspiration or guidance, make time every day to tune inwards. Slow down, take a breath and feel your body. So often we forge through the day not even knowing how we’re truly feeling, but just a few minutes of quiet reflection can help you recalibrate and feel more centred again. Find a quiet place, sit down, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths into your belly. Allow your weight to sink into your sitting bones and feet, and let any bodily tension melt away on the out-breath. From this place, if you wish, you can ask yourself what you’re feeling in this moment, and what you really need.

2 INHABIT YOUR BODY One thing social media does really well is keep you living in your head – in 2016, we Brits averaged almost two hours a day on our devices! To reclaim your inner authority, aim to spend more time inhabiting your body. A simple daily commitment – whether that’s a few sun salutations first thing in the morning, a mindful walk or run at lunchtime or regular classes or sessions at the gym – will draw your energy and attention down from your head and into your body, leaving you feeling more centred, focused and sure of your own direction.

3 FEED YOUR SOUL If you can’t resist the pull of social media, consider giving yourself a time limit and listen to people who believe what’s right for you is more important than what’s right for them. Follow those who established a strong practice in their given field long before any social media presence – Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chӧdrӧn or Vietnamese monk Thich Naht Hahn, for example. Read physical copies of books that encourage you to trust yourself rather than look to an external source for answers. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in a poet or novelist you resonate with, or a spiritual text. Anything goes, as long as it puts you back in the centre of your life. As for me, I’ve decided to swap the early morning mobile for Elena Brower and Erica Jago’s beautiful book Art of Attention: A Yoga Practice Workbook for Movement as Meditation (Sounds True, £26.95) – and I’ll see where it takes me.

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