Can you relate to these statements:
- I feel like I am supposed to be doing something bigger, but I don’t know what.
- I am afraid I am going to look back on my life with regret, like somehow I missed the boat.
- What does just follow your passion even mean?
If you are nodding your head up and down, know that you are not alone. Part of the process of uncovering your dharma (life purpose) is to sift through the expectations, shoulds, obligations and many other distractions that have been carefully and painstakingly crafted over a lifetime. Culture teaches that you need to be a certain way and family values teach yet another. Throw in perfectionist tendencies and wanting to get it “right” and it’s no wonder you are left feeling isolated, disconnected and confused.
Below, I share five practices that will help you plug in, let go and gain clarity. They will help you connect more authentically to your True Nature and space of knowing why you are here. Like other yoga techniques and practices, there isn’t a quick fix or blue pill (think Matrix). However, because I know that you are always up for a challenge and continue to seek new ways to stretch and grow, I think you’ll find one that connects to your heart.
How do you plug in to Source (God/ Heavenly Father/ Great Spirit/ Mother Nature/ Your dog) on a regular (aka as daily) basis? What reminds you that there is something bigger at play? It is going to an actual church or temple? Is it your meditation and yoga practice? Do you find this spaciousness in the woods? You may consider bypassing this practice but plugging in builds trust and intuition. Plugging in helps you find silence amidst all the noise and, ultimately, find your own voice, your own path.
Heal Yourself First
Why is it so important to connect to your Dharma? Why do you think you are meant to give back in a bigger capacity? What will be different about your life when you connect to your dharma than where you are right now, here? The reason I ask these questions is that I want to make sure that you are not confusing the true underlying need or desire. Let me explain what I mean.
More often than not, the underlying need to want to achieve more or make a bigger impact stems from ego. In my own story, wanting to give back in a greater capacity, play a bigger role was tied to my sense of worth and feeling damaged somehow. I felt that if I made a bigger impact, I would finally be worthy of love. Are you hoping that you will finally gain the approval of your mom for being self-less? Do you think by achieving some amazing non-profit that saves millions of lives you will finally be enough? In other words, are you coming from lack?
Hey, if you are sincerely coming from a place of unconditional love, compassion, not wanting anything in return, that’s awesome! If you sit with the why and realize that, “wow I never realized it was love, approval and/or belonging I was seeking,” I totally understand. I have been there! I still go there:) We are human after all.
Know this, you are just as worthy of your time and love as are the others you want to serve. What if for now, your path becomes extending that same love, compassion and grace to yourself? What if your dharma is to heal from the inside out? Could that be enough? Isn’t that a lifetime process in and of itself? Isn’t that a worthy task? You would tell your bff that she is worthy. Can you extend the same kindness to yourself?
Channel Your Inner Child
No don’t. Seriously, I just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention. What I mean with this one is look for clues from your childhood. Did you love to write, dance, draw, play the piano, spend countless hours outside hiding in the grass? I get that you might not be able to make a living playing hide and seek (we can dream can’t we) BUT you may be able to offer guided camping and backpacking tours. You may not be a professional dancer but could you open a dance studio and offer lessons.
Before you were told you couldn’t do XXX, what did you want to be when you grew up? You may hate this question, but if money wasn’t a consideration, what would you want to do everyday? The point in asking these questions is to get beyond the thinking and judging mind. In other words, drop out of mind and into heart and begin to feel your way through these questions. When we have the why, the how and what are less important. For example, my why is to serve, yours might be to inspire, love, etc. With my why, I can serve by waiting tables, teaching yoga, making dinner, etc. When we have the why, every task becomes part of our dharma- it extends beyond the “job title.”
How many times have you changed paths because you wanted to get it right, perfect? How often does fear of failing or making the wrong choice stop you in your tracks? You may think that you have one shot to get this right. The truth is you can always switch paths. Part of the process of distilling your dharma is trying things on and learning what it is that you don’t want. I know that making mistakes can be painful. However, isn’t the paralysis that comes from not being able to make a clear decision just as painful?
Clarity helps channel your energy and allows you to maneuver the various obstacles that come up along the way and stay the course, tuning in to your likes and dislikes. These likes and dislikes become clues as to what really grabs your soul and lights you up. The process of coming alive, of being lit up, is what you want to look for in uncovering your dharma.
When you compare yourself to others you cheat the world out of you. You have had different life experiences that are unique to you. You have brought gifts specific to you to this lifetime. I have people tell me that they live vicariously through Chris & me because we have the freedom to take motorcycle rides, camping trips, etc. Chris and I were young when we had Drew, 23 & 24 years of age. Drew is 20 years old now. I think you will agree with me that if Drew still needs me in the bathroom, the world is in trouble. While an aspect of my dharma is still to mother Drew, he does not need as much guidance as he did say 10 years ago.
I share this example as a reminder that we are all at different points along this great journey of life. Can you begin to embrace where you are in this moment with reverence and gratitude? Can you begin to trust in your inherent goodness and know that you are making a difference in the world just by showing up as you?
Now, I want to hear from you. Which one practice will you try this week and why?