When we know ourselves and can feel the needs of our innermost souls, then we are also able to show the world who we are and what is within us.
At some point in life, many of us experience ending up at a dead end – we’re stuck in college, a relationship or a job that we aren’t thriving in. Sometimes, we end up there because it was what was expected of us or perhaps we didn’t realize what we really wanted. By training your ability to feel yourself and your innermost needs, you can find your Dharma, your life path.
If you get stuck in something for too long that isn’t good for you, you can lose your connection to yourself, and it can eventually lead to both physical and mental imbalance.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between what we want and what is good for us – it’s not always the same. And when we’re young, it can be especially difficult to tell the difference between the two. As we get older and get to know ourselves better, we can often distinguish between superficial and impulse-driven needs and our innermost needs more easily – as well as what is good for our balance, too.
A life in balance is about practicing listening to yourself and feeling yourself.
It’s also at this stage that we typically experience that two different needs can meet and unite and become a joint need and that what we want is the same as what is good for us, our health and even those around us. When that happens, we are living out our Dharma, which in an Ayurvedic context can be translated into “life path.”
Both meditation and yoga are great ways into yourself. Here, you train your ability to feel yourself and practice finding your way into your deeper needs and desires. They enable you to meet your innermost longings and you will find it easier to distinguish them from impulse-driven needs and stimuli. Another way to train your ability to get to your deepest needs and insights is reflection exercises.
Let yourself be guided by your Dharma and what is good for you.
I myself am very fond of this particular exercise. It’s one I return to often. It consists of four different questions, and you can easily ask yourself the same question several times in life. You will find that the answers and the reflections change depending on where you are on your life path. Feel free to write down your answers and thoughts in, for example, a journal. It can help you to focus, but it is also instructive to take a step back and look at the different answers to and the reflections on the same questions. You can advantageously repeat the exercise every few weeks. It helps to keep your reflections going and you will probably find that you get deeper each time you do the exercise.
The answer itself isn’t what is important – it’s the thought process from question to answer that contains the insight.
Gifts can be your special natural abilities, e.g., related to your Dosha type. It can also be something specific that feels and comes easily to you. For instance, certain types of tasks or situations that you are particularly good at handling. It could also be special gifts or abilities you bring with you from your childhood, your education, or your working life. Maybe you are really good at listening to other people, starting new projects or something entirely different?
Think of experiences in your life and where you have felt like you have learned something – even if it was difficult. It could be experiences or relationships where you learned something from the path you walked and the experiences that came with it. It could be, for example, a divorce, a loss or an illness. Try to think about what gifts accompanied the experience, what was difficult and what taught you something new about yourself.
This question invites you to reflect on what parts of you, you can pass on to others. For example, you may be able to comfort someone because you yourself have experienced grief or you are good at embracing others because you yourself have felt lonely.
Here, you are very welcome to think beyond your job. It’s also about what brings you joy when you have time off. What are some activities that make you happy in life? It could be anything from gardening, a good book, a cultural experience or time and chats with your children or people who inspire you.
Feel free to do this exercise on a regular basis. You’ll train your ability to feel yourself and your Dharma. You will also train your ability to see your life path through the little Dharmic choices you make every single day.
Let your whole life be a meditation.