It is clear to me now, more then ever, that I am living my life's purpose. Whether I'm practicing yoga or teaching, every time I return to my mat I recognize my soul's reason for being on this planet.
And it feels damn good.
This clarity came about during a particularly challenging time. Drowning in doubt, I called my teacher in Encinitas and said, "I need to talk about dharma vs. ego."
Dharma in sanskrit can be translated as "duty" or one's purpose in life. For an individual to live out their dharma is for them to act in accordance with the universe. In Buddhism, it is said that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment. One's dharma changes over time and there are multiple jobs that can be held at once. At first, your duty as a child is to learn & grow. One day you might be a parent who must teach & develop conscious humans. It is your responsibility to vote, your commitment to your relationships, and ultimately your spiritual awakening.
"This must be big," Josh Vincent replied.
I told him how I abruptly left Encinitas to be with my dad and was so glad I listened to my intuition. This conversation was after a long night at the hospital, spent holding my dad's hand as I reminded him to breathe through the pain while trying to do the same. I updated Josh on my dad's surgery and the news of his cancer and shared how grateful I am that my yoga practice helped me through it.
"I want to stay with my dad in the Bay Area for as long as I can," I told Josh. "I feel like my work is here. But I don't know if that's my ego wanting to have control, wanting to know what's happening at all times. Am I actually avoiding my work back in Encinitas? Which one is my duty, my dharma?"
Josh took a deep breath and compassionately responded, "Your ego will never escape you. The only thing you can do is be aware of it. And it sounds like you can trust your gut, it hasn't steered you wrong yet. If your intuition is telling you to stay, you know what to do."
"Thanks," I sighed, "I think I just needed permission to be here, even though there's nothing I can offer that the doctors cannot."
"Oh that's so untrue!" Josh persisted, "they might be able to change his fluids but there is something only you can do for his soul. As a father to a young daughter, I can tell you how much your presence means in a situation like this. Just knowing you're there is comforting to his spirit."
I recognized the doubt in my last words, my ego's fangs digging in and creating drama out of thin air -- telling me that I don't matter, casting a cloud of doubt. Through happy tears I thanked Josh again for his guidance. When my conscious mind was fighting to find the surface, he helped me see the truth. In that moment, I dropped the drama and lived my dharma.
"Practice and all is coming"
Follow these famous words by Pattabhi Jois and your life's purpose will reveal itself. Your asana practice awakens you to the awareness of your spirit, and when your spirit is alive it will guide you to your calling. You'll definitely hit some road blocks on the way, but every dead-end teaches you more about yourself. Inquire to find out where you went off-track and continue doing the work that is aligned with your soul's purpose for being here. Each of us has a role to fulfill, if you're playing small you're not doing anyone any good. We need you. The universe needs you! Don't worry about answering the question or searching for transformation, simply live the question everyday and you'll be living the answer.
And you'll be feeling damn good, too.