5 Ways to Discover Purpose and Abundance in a World that has Forgotten
As I read the seemingly innocent letter, I could feel a pit churning in my stomach. We have been ingesting this devastating message since we were so very young, in many innocuous ways.
My daughter is 7 years old. The letter was from her school. Over the next month, all the 2nd graders would be tested by the Gifted and Talented Program. So there it was, the blatant societal assertion that some children/people are gifted and talented while others are not.
I travel all over the world teaching yoga and am continually heartbroken to find that 99% of the people I encounter have a persistent, nagging sense of “not enough”. Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not wealthy enough, not fit enough, not wise enough, not patient enough, not talented enough, not spiritual enough, not worthy enough, simply not good enough. Could this be the root of so much of our stress and dis-ease? As a yoga therapist, working to change this deeply seeded, incorrect assumption has proven time and again to be paramount in the healing process.
The truth is, everyone has gifts. Everyone is talented. Everyone is essential to life. What each and every one of us is, is something so much more than simply enough. Yet this persistent belief of inherent lack endures because in so many ways we have forgotten.
Simple Yoga for Stressful Times
The Plague of “Not Enough”
Consider these questions. What would happen to the world’s economy if we all realized that we lack nothing? What if we awakened to the fact that we are whole and complete, perfect, just as we are? What if we truly believed in ourselves, our innate gifts, and the abundance that supports our heart’s purest desire?
The message of lack is ingrained in the very fabric of our society. Everywhere we turn we are being told to get more, do more, be more, learn more, earn more, etc. So our sense of abundance is swallowed whole by the all-consuming vortex of more, more, more, never enough. And we can’t help but feel the urge to continually fortify and fiercely protect what is me, my and mine.
Then we show up in this world and walk with each other in a great and grave disguise. Secretly feeling like frauds, with paint on our skin, fear in our thoughts, anxiety in our words, and holes in our hearts, we fight, we run, we hide. We pretend to be bigger than life, or shrink and shrivel shamefully back. Each of us trying so hard to get it – this elusive prize of “success”. To fix it – our perpetually unworthy image of ourselves. To compare it – our own value against another’s. To hide it – our shame of falling short. Trying so hard to find it – our way back home to a sense of peace.
Yet, ironically as we dedicate ourselves to this never-ending self-improvement project, we live a smaller than we were meant. We forget the truth of who we are, the essential value of our particular purpose for being, and the innate perfection of our specifically wild and wonderfully messy presentation of humanity. And so we wait. Wait for a time, a place, a circumstance, a body, a mind, a bank account that is better than this. In the meantime, we excuse ourselves from living whole and fully living.
Likely we all know by now, through a simple examination of our lives, that the “ideal conditions” we have been led to believe that we need to thrive are never coming. In truth, now is the time, these are the perfect conditions, and you are the one – just as you are –in the skin that you’re in to live the life of love that you were meant.
“The meaning of life is to discover our gifts. The purpose of life is to give them away.” ~Albert Einstein
Simple Yoga for Stressful Times
5 Ways to Live into the Fullness of Your Being
With a foreboding sense of unworthiness, validated by the bombardment of outer messaging everywhere, we stumble around in a mind and world that has forgotten. A world in which we are literally killing ourselves and each other to gain a sense of “enoughness”. So, we turn to Yoga as a practice of wholeness and remembrance. Yet if we are not mindful on this journey, soon even our Yoga practice will be fueling our sense of lack. We can feel like we need to do bigger poses, more breath practices, deeper meditations, read more books, go to more workshops, gain more knowledge, drink more tea, wear more malas, and the list goes on and on. But, all we need to do is remember. To realize that all that we seek is right here in the palms of our hands, in the beat of our hearts, and the flow of our breath. The worthiness we seek is in the human that we already are, in this being that has always existed. No need to get, to do, or be one more thing. Remembering our innate wholeness, our true nature is simple:
Get Outside and Observe the Innate Perfection of the Natural World
There is perhaps nothing that can change our perspective quicker than getting outside into the natural world. Go out in the day and sense the sun on your skin, the wind in the air, the clouds in the sky. Observe the way the plants and trees each reach up from the earth uniquely twisting, winding, budding, blossoming, deteriorating, and decomposing. All this existing along the fine continuum of living and dying. Go out at night and bathe yourself under a sea of stars. Go to the top of a mountain, the middle of a field, or just to where the pavement meets the grass. Notice the innate and essential interplay of the elements. How the existence of everything in nature is co-dependent on and affected by the existence of everything else.
Then remember that you are not separate from this dynamic and wild tapestry of life. You too are sewing an essential thread that only you can sew. You too are supported by the rhythms of life. You too are twisting, winding, budding, blossoming, and deteriorating in your own unique way as you weave your way along the continuum of living and dying.
Turn to the Wisdom Within
So often we look out to our families, friends, loved ones, teachers, and even adversaries to get a sense of our worth. We look out to astrology, oracles, articles, and even the quizzes on the internet to tell us who we are. We look out to the societal standard for an acceptable outline and timetable for the arc and direction of our lives. But if you dare to crawl magnificently deep inside, you will find an innate wisdom that is governed like a compass to steer you well and guide you perfectly along your own soul’s journey.
Here is a short practice you can do at any time to simply stop and drop in to the wisdom within. Just stop where you are. Interlace your fingers and lay your palms flat on your chest in the gesture of trust. Take a few deep breaths right into the palms of your hands. Once your awareness has dropped inward into the space of the heart, ask yourself anything. i.e. Who am I? What is this quality of my existence before I have a thought about it? What is it that I live for? What is the next step on my journey? Would it serve my soul’s journey to choose this or that? Remember the questions are yours and the answers are there.
Create Some Space for Presence and Name Your Gifts
Many of us are quite adept at naming and describing, in detail, our long list of faults. Instead, take some time in a place that is peaceful for you, a place where you can allow a sense of spaciousness and presence to grow. It can be in your house, somewhere outside, or somewhere close that inspires you. Once you are there, allow your whole being to arrive perhaps by taking some deep breaths to soak it all in. Or you could sit down, close your eyes and touch the earth. Maybe singing would inspire a state of presence. Movement practice of any kind can be a great way to settle in. After you feel a sense of spaciousness, presence, and connection grab a pen and a piece of paper and list your gifts. List those innate gifts that you seem to have been born with, and those gifts that have been picked up along your particular path in life. Name them, own them, honor them, and embrace them. Then go back out into your everyday life and dedicate yourself to generously give them away.
Embrace Imperfection, Know that You Will Be Judged
In the impossible effort to fulfill everyone’s needs, make ourselves look good, and to avoid being judged; we strive for perfection to save us. But, we all will be judged, we will face tremendous challenges, we will make mistakes, and we will fail. It’s an inevitable part of being human in this life. And if we live our lives trying to avoid these imminent experiences, ultimately we will find ourselves anxious and/or depressed and living small.
We must be willing to know ourselves and to be ourselves with all that we meet. We must own our gifts and cultivate the courage necessary to go out and give those gifts away, no matter how imperfectly given or received. We must be willing to show up for the hard conversations. To fall flat on our face and cry out in surrender with tears of disappointment and grace. To get back up with a more full understanding of what it means to be human. To try to be kind when every fiber in our being just wants to be right. To forgive ourselves when we lash out instead. To allow our friends to see us with ruffled hair, unpainted skin, holey shirts, messy houses, ice cream mustaches, empty bank accounts, empty bottles, empty hearts, and the unspeakable truths that speckle the paths of our lives. We must be willing to let it all fall apart, this crazy façade of perfection, so that we can be real together, raw and wild, in our truth, imperfectly divine.
Explore the Mystery of the Bigness of Life
Remember, not only are you an essential, magnificent thread in the tapestry of life, but that you are just one thread. The greater weaving is vast and much more mysterious than you could ever possibly imagine. Allow yourself to be awed by the sunrise, stunned by the stars, captivated by the silence, taken by the wind, melted by the touch of a child’s hand, honored by the words of the elders, sunken into the earth in your garden firmly planted and growing, inspired by the colorful frog that jumps 50 times its own length, humiliated by the intricate pattern of a pinecone, persuaded by the persistence of a flower that pushes stubbornly up through stone, humbled by the grace of a seashell, rocked and humored by all of the waves and expressions of life while you still can.
Sacrifice as a Catalyst for Rebirth and Bliss in Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey
Joseph Campbell is one of the most influential writers, philosophers, and professors in history. His work on mythology has taken native stories beyond their face value and deep into the human psyche, where they resonate with the core of who we are.
Campbell’s life’s work brought countless people across the world in touch with the collective unconscious that underlies our every thought and motivates us to seek happiness. His phrase “follow your bliss” is now a household prompt, thanks to a series of interviews with celebrated journalist Bill Moyers in the early ‘90s. Gaia members can now experience this timeless discussion, listening to episodes discussing “The Hero’s Adventure”, “Sacrifice and Bliss”, and more.
Campbell’s teachings applied the lessons of heroes and metaphors of mythology to our own lives. “A myth is not a lie,” he famously said, despite this commonly misused definition. Rather, a myth is a story meant to turn the mind inward to reflect upon itself and reveal the essential truths of reality and our relationship to the transcendent.
As Campbell explains in his series of interviews with Moyers, myth is often constructed as a hero’s journey — a pivotal course of events that slowly test the story’s protagonist and push them to the next step of unfoldment — toward transcendence. Each obstacle the hero experiences is a reflection of himself, as he is moved one step closer to sacrifice the egoic sense of self to the greater good, which is total consciousness.
When we study mythology, Campbell taught, we find the theme of sacrifice to be all-important. We must let go in order to receive what is already present. Campbell said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” The hero sacrifices his lower nature for his higher nature, and his safety for the one he rescues, or perhaps an object of desire for a noble cause.
Campbell taught that sacrifice is a theme that runs through all things natural — death (the sacrifice of a living being) gives way to new life in an ever-continuing cycle. But death is often metaphorical and may be the death of a habit, a pattern of thinking, or an attachment to something. Or, he said, “When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you’re sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship.”