Through my work as a private yoga teacher and holistic life coach I’ve encountered countless individuals who are struggling with the idea of their life’s purpose. At some point, we have all found ourselves at a crossroads in life, feeling like we’re stuck without a compass, and wondering what is next for us. At times like these I’ve personally relied upon (and coached those in my care) the concept of Dharma to be my compass. The yoga concept of Dharma means the fulfillment of one’s purpose. We all have our own dharma and I believe that we usually feel most secure and “on the right track” when our actions are aligned with that greater purpose. The funny thing about Dharma is that it usually isn’t something that we “figure out” by reasoning, yet something that we feel deeply within ourselves on a soul level. When we have a strong connection to our inner self, we can easily identify which options that lie ahead of us align most with our Dharma or our own individual life path.
For example, I’ve been talking a lot lately with people about how we choose our careers (or rather how they choose us). In my personal case, no amount of reasoning and planning would have led me to where I am now without the specific intervention of at least 2 Dharma-defining moments that presented themselves to me. The first was meeting a new friend named Donna who was the first professional massage therapist I’d ever met. We met while I was living in South Florida one summer in the mid 90’s. I observed her carefree, easygoing life as an MT and really felt drawn to the profession. It seemed like a really noble job to devote your life to helping others relieve their chronic pain while at the same time encouraging them to relax. Fast forward five years later and that second moment occurred while I was working in marketing, was a recent college graduate, and was mostly happy with my job at the time. I came across another friend who was doing a yoga teacher training program and was a very insightful guy. We’ve since lost touch over the years, but he asked me a question that has profoundly changed the direction of my life. He asked, “If there was one thing you could do, and you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would it be?” My almost reflexive response was, “I’d go back to school and become a massage therapist.” He responded, “Well… what’s stopping you?” I knew then and there that I had to continue this journey to fulfill the role I was meant to fill in this life. I’m happy with the career I’ve chosen (or that’s chosen me) and am grateful to the friends that helped point me in the right direction toward massage therapy (and eventually yoga and life coaching too).
As you explore your path and the meaning of Dharma in your life try this 3-step visualization to create more clarity about where you are headed and next right actions steps for you. Before you begin, find a quiet place without distraction where you can do some contemplative work.
1. Imagine your current purpose in life as you would define it. Include all professional and personal ideas of purpose in your imagination. Make your visualization vivid and include as much detail in your vision as possible.
2. Once you’ve fully created a vision of your current purpose, consider what feels like it is missing. Are there areas of yourself and your purpose that feel underdeveloped and unexplored? Put another way: What does your soul most want to do?
3. Comparing the current state of your purpose in Step 1 with the place you’d like to be in Step 2, what are the next action steps you’d need to take to move forward into your full purpose?
I’m wondering if anyone else out there has had a similar experience where a career has “found them”. Are there others out there that feel wholeheartedly that they are living their dharma? Are some of the readers out there unsure what your dharma really is? Do you sense your dharma is different from your current profession but are scared to embrace it for fear of failure? I’d love to hear from others about your Dharma journey!