by Luba Kholov
“O Indra, lead us on the path of Rta, on the right path over all evils”
10th mandala of the Rigveda
Dharma is an ancient Sanskrit term. It’s literal meaning is “that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe” It sounds a bit New Agey, but in essence it means the purpose of one’s life. It doesn’t mean the final destination, but the path one takes. The Law of Dharma means awakening oneself and using person’s unique talents to serve the humanity.
How do you discover your Dharma? You don’t have to ask anyone about it, because you already have the answer. All answers are within you. If you are unable to hear your inner voice, that is the problem you have to solve.
People started thinking about Dharma concept thousands of years ago and still think about it to this day – of course, if they have time. Most of us just don’t have the luxury of free time and thinking of Dharma isn’t our top priority… We don’t think about the meaning of life. We need to pay bills, finish assignments on time, satisfy a lover, build our career or take care of the kids. By society’s definition, you need to be on top of all of these aspects of life and perform well in every regard in order to be successful, worthy and respected. Yet, as a result, people get sick, depressed and exhausted. Why? If you have ever spent a day commuting via the New York City subway system, you definitely understand what I’m talking about.
Following your Dharma, on another hand, means not really obeying the laws set by society. Instead, it is about understanding our inner perception of the world. A medical pioneer, Dr. Sarno, in his book “Healing Back Pain,” points out that back pain became an epidemic of the 21st century. The reason for that is that the pain stems from suppression of the emotions. Back pain is a defense mechanism. It tries to protect us from overwhelming unconscious emotions rising up into the consciousness. In other words, it is a simple attempt to forget our dreams and pretend that we are living a happy life. Ask yourself: How has your back health been lately? You may also be holding your emotions in your stomach, neck, chest, or even in your eyes.
There have been numerous articles written on the subject of following a dream. Shannon Kaiser in “5 Steps to Making Your Dream a Reality” tells us to take risks, to recall what we loved to do when we were children, to listen to our intuition, etc. People say if you found your Dharma, your life turns into a beautiful and pleasurable adventure. Time flies, your soul is at peace (whatever that means), and you see beauty everywhere. Essentially, it all sounds like living your dream.
However, following your dreams involves a lot of risks, moments of doubt and obstacles. We are afraid of these things! It is much easier to stay in our comfort zone and have an “ok” job that pays the bills and provides a sense of security. Deepak Chopra, who writes a lot about Dharma says that our free will means that we can ignore or distract ourselves from the force of transformation or Dharma for long periods of time. Double check if your free will is doing that to you before you disregard any benefits of the information in this article.
Remember a Shepherd Santiago from “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho? He is a perfect example of a person who lived his Dharma. But was he always happy? This book is a story about how one man followed his dream and eventually found what he was looking for in his own garden. To obtain that knowledge though, he grazed sheep, crossed a desert, went to another country, learned a new language, worked for one year at the place where he had never dreamed of working, met interesting people, found love, then needed to leave her for some time. He was robbed and beaten several times. Santiago learned a lot in the process, developed intuition and, eventually, found out that the treasure he sought was in his own garden. However, if he had suppressed his calling to move forward from the beginning, he would have never figured that out. I don’t think he was always happy in the process, but the fact that he did something to achieve his dreams every day is the most important lesson. And it’s not necessary to cross the whole world, you can stay at the same village where you were born and follow your dreams every day. Living your Dharma or following a dream is when you feel you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to do here and now. If that feeling goes away, that’s where we need to step away from the normal routine, take a risk and change something.
By now, I bet, you’re wondering: “Who are you? Did you happen to figure out what your own Dharma is or you’re just writing aimlessly here?”
I was always a person who, no matter what happened, would continue to explore things and take small step towards figuring out what my Dharma was every day: I read philosophical books and worked at different places from the age of 14 – but not because I needed money at that time. I just wanted to figure out what people feel when they do a particular kind of job. I worked as a janitor, a hostess, a salesperson, a school and camp counselor, a sales manager, and a marketer. I especially loved working as a camp counselor. Kids have so much pure energy. They are so creative and free spirited. For children, everything is possible. Adults, on the other hand, usually forget about these possibilities. And that’s exactly what happened to me after I moved to New York at 22 and began working as a sales manager. I can’t say I hated my job (at the beginning); it was an “ok” job with good money to be made and a guarantee of a roof above my head every night.
When I was at the point when every day I woke up crying because I needed to go to work, and I began to have anxiety, stomach pain and gynecological stress-related issues, I was forced to stop and think. Physical pain usually has the power to do that. Unexpectedly (as it felt), I soon discovered yoga. And after a year of practicing, my life has dramatically changed. I met my husband. Later, I became a yoga instructor. And, four months ago I quit my job where I spent almost 7 years of my precious lifetime. I’m not going to lie, at the beginning it was terrifying! But now, every day is so beautiful and exciting! I teach yoga and work as a digital marketing freelancer. I really love working with people and I’m almost ready to conclude that this is my Dharma. I feel fantastic when I teach yoga: time flies, I feel fulfilled and happy (even though constant challenges and moments of doubt are still there). There is a scary moment for me when I’m almost there, but I’m still afraid to make that final step, fully commit and say out loud that I’ve found my purpose in life.
If you have no idea what your Dharma may be, but if you don’t feel uplifted by your current situation, you don’t have a lot of time. Start with 5 minutes a day and sit quietly. Even though it may be scary or boring at the beginning, trust the process. Soon you’ll begin noticing something different, see the things and situations you’re constantly neglecting now. Eventually, your Dharma will gracefully present itself to you. You won’t confuse that moment with anything else!
Image Credit: Aaron Bihari