We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience. – John Dewey
In my previous post on Finding Your Calling, I expressed that I fully believe each of us has a unique, deep, meaningful purpose to fulfill here on this planet. In yogic philosophy, we call this our Svadharma. Some of us have already gained some clarity on our path and are experiencing the beauty, grace, and fullness of life in the flow; some of us are still on the winding and uncertain part of the path toward our True Selves.
Whether we are just beginning to remove the haze or have already dove into the depths of living out our Divinely-given duty and responsibility, we will most likely bump up against beliefs and ideas, some of which we’ve carried with us our whole lives, that will cause us to question, second-guess, and close off from trusting and moving toward our Inner Guidance. These beliefs span and impact the whole of our being, from our external persona: the types of clothes we choose to wear, the way we style our hair, the foods we choose to eat, the people we surround ourselves with and the car that we drive, to our most preciously-held inner beliefs on service, character, morality, and spirituality.
As mentioned in the previous article, during my graduate studies in Clinical Health Psychology, the Universe blessed me with the abundant and luminous gift of the practice of yoga and my first Teacher. In the beginning, the practice served as a salve for my highly over-active thinking mind.
Slowly, practice-by-practice, the intuitive and flowing movements of my body began to guide me to a more tranquil and spacious mind. It was in these moments of spacious awareness that shifts in my perception would come. My primary pain point at that time was a long-term relationship that was no longer serving my path.
Gradually, the Universe unfolded before me that my existence would not end, should I choose to end the relationship. Furthermore, deciding to leave the relationship did not make him or me a bad, unloving, or ungrateful partner. Beyond releasing these fear-based beliefs, a loving perspective began to shine through: maybe ending this relationship honored the fact that I could not love him in the way that he needed to be shown love, and he could not love me in the way that I needed, and that that was ok!
Though it was one of the most painful, heart-wrenching times of my life, I felt a strong pull to release the need to cling to the familiar, and to give us both a chance to heal our hearts and make them whole. And though my future was terrifyingly unclear, I chose to honor that guidance.
Now a few years into the future, I can look back with tremendous gratitude for the love that I would be blessed with from my new partner (now my fiancé). What is important on this journey is that it is a rare fortune that choices and decisions will be clear and easy. Most of the time they will be messy and hard, especially as we begin to listen to our soul’s calling to rise up into the highest versions of ourselves.
We will bump up against our most ego-protective beliefs, and the Universe will ask us to choose: safety and security or true purpose and fulfillment? We will be asked to release the need to cling and control, and to humble and surrender ourselves to a Source much broader and wiser than we are. The Sanskrit term for this practice is Aparigraha (non-clinging or non-hoarding).
REFLECTION EXERCISE: Are You the Owner of Your Beliefs?
As we begin this practice of untethering our beliefs from our True Nature, it can be helpful to bring a curious mind to our experience: where did the belief that I had to be/do _________come from?
Is it my belief or was it given to me (by a friend, family member, or mentor)?
How has this belief served me in the past? Does this belief serve my Svadharma; my life’s calling? Reflect in a way that serves your highest awareness best (for me it is a combination of meditation and journaling), and then surrender it to the Universe; allow its subtle but powerful pull guide you, and watch the beautiful gift of a purposeful life unfold before you as entrance into the flow of Divine Grace.
May this exercise serve to clarify your unique purpose, for the collective highest good.