‘Be totally and faithfully what you are. Be humbly what you aspire to be…man’s noblest gift to man is his sincerity, for it embraces his integrity also'(Henry David Thoreau)
Dharma….our path in life. We all know the feeling when we are doing something which allows us to light up from within. Those moments in which you know deep inside yourself that you are on the right path. We also all know the deep disappointment when, through fears and doubts we have not followed our path. When ‘if only’ and ‘what if’ are a continual muttering in the back of your mind. When your heart is empty and you die inside as you try to fit in. Doing that which is expected of you rather than that which lights you up inside.
We all have dreams. I am lucky enough to be living mine. To be following that path which fills me daily with a deep inner satisfaction and sense of well being. I finally accepted that trying desperately to fit in only made me drastically unhappy. That following fashion and living up to expectations wasn’t making me smile on the inside. I decided instead to go through those doors that had come ajar & which may lead me to exciting and rewarding places. It took me a lot of heart ache, self questioning and overcoming doubt to do so. Plus the support of a few dear friends (you know who you are) who support and believe in me when I doubt, and continue to inspire me to be better than I believed feasible.
I have a good education. Good enough in fact for my father to continually enquire as to when I am going to get ‘a proper job’! I have previously followed paths which were interesting and exciting, but not necessarily fulfilling. I have sought the material possessions and to accumulate external success and found myself continually feeling something was lacking. It was when I chose to seek knowledge, internal guidance and inner peacefulness over the external trappings of success or temporary pleasures that I learnt that I could be truly happy.
It was almost by accident that I discovered my dharma. My path was one that, with hindsight was always there, but was as obvious as a tiny goat track leading through a field at the side of a motorway. It had been more logical to speed down the concrete motorway rather than take a turning off that motorway and seemingly go back to find that simple, but potentially beautiful and interesting, meandering little path. Time and time again I had achieved what others classified as ‘living the dream’ ; the nice apartment, the designer shoes, the manicured nails and exotic holidays. However speeding down that motorway of material success never encouraged me to admire the view or enjoy the moment. instead always looking ahead, striving for more. Feeling the desire for more speed, louder music and continual activity to distract me from the inner loneliness. I may have been driving a nice car, but I was listening to music and taking risks to hide the constant chatter of insecurity and questions in my mind, but I often failed to notice the view. Or even often the journey itself. It was so often about where I had been and where I was going rather than enjoying the moment. I remember so many times where I literally sat parked in my car, head resting on the steering wheel and sobbed my heart out. Not understanding why I felt like I was dying inside.
Then I had a time of reflection. The equivalent of a blow out on the motorway of my life. A time where I had to pause, to take time to reflect. A time to re discover my yoga practice and to explore who and what I really was. During this time I started to understand that doing what was expected wasn’t bringing me happiness. That the material possessions didn’t make me happy, that the apparent trappings of success were instead the ‘dust that weighed me down and stopped me flying up to heaven’.
During this time I started to explore what did bring me joy. It was my physicality, my internal honesty, my willingness to work hard; my pride in myself was coming from unexpected places. I discovered I enjoyed my ability to learn, to research and study both my internal world and my physical body. I discovered my tendency to nurture and to encourage others to realise their potential. I also realised this nurturing was not being applied to myself. The hardest thing was to try and treat myself with the forgiveness, love and kindness I wanted to give to others. It’s all very well saying we should treat others as we want to be treated. Try also to treat yourself as you would treat others; making time, nurturing, being kind and being willing to forgive!
When studying for my BWY yoga teacher training we were to study the Bhagavad Gita. This text was a turning point for me when I discovered the term ‘dharma’. Yogis insist that each person has a unique vocation, almost an internal fingerprint. Like a gift, a path, a duty, a possibility or a potential. As Krishna says in his teaching to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita ‘you cannot be anyone you want to be’. Just as we cannot change our fingerprint we cannot choose our gifts. This is dharma. Our unique individual path that we must discover. The idea that ‘it is better to live your own dharma badly than to live the dharma of another well’ from the speeches of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita touched me so deeply that it became my personal mantra. Then I just had to learn to be honest with myself as I explored my potential & discovered what my personal dharma may be.