Tag Archives: Dharma

How to Get Back Your Personal Power

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by Deepak Chopra, MD

There are many ways in modern life to feel powerless, as the world seems increasingly dangerous. None of us can change the evening news, but we can regain the personal power that is undermined by stress, a sense of threat, and loss of control. In fact, without being in control, a person is more susceptible to depression and anxiety, two disorders that exist in epidemic numbers in this society. Unfortunately, the social trends that drain away personal power only grow stronger.  Therefore, it’s crucial to find a way to limit that feeling in your day-to-day life.

As a start, let’s clarify what power isn’t. It isn’t a force that you use like a weapon to get your own way. It isn’t suppressing what you don’t like about yourself and achieving a perfect ideal that doesn’t exist in the first place.  It isn’t money, status, possessions, or any other material surrogate. There are countless people sitting in the lap of luxury who feel even more powerless than the average person. This is so because the issues of power are all “in here,” where you relate to yourself.

Now we can address the five things that do limit—or even undo—that feeling of powerlessness. Continue reading

Stop Talking Yourself Out of Your Own Greatness

Priska climbing the classic Star CheckRecently, as I found myself sitting in front of my laptop, tapping away at the final touches of my book  proposal, I’ve drifted away from my usual writer’s bliss and instead have been, oh you know, totally freaking out! You see, the deadline to submit the proposal to my dream publisher, Hay House, as part of the contest they’re holding for participants of last April’s ‘Writing from Your Soul’ conference is quickly approaching. And, wouldn’t you know, all of a sudden, my ego is totally tripping out on me! “Who would even want to read my book” “What are the odds of getting picked with over 500 others in attendance?” “I bet there are some pretty amazing book ideas out there.” As I’ve allowed these thoughts to creep into my brain, they have literally taken over, sucking the creativity and joy out of what is usually one of my most favorite activities, writing!!  I even started creeping into the “why bother?” territory. Yikes!

With just a little over a month away to finish up, fine-tune, and put my best step forward, I didn’t have time for this self-sabotage crapola and needed to snap out of it, stat! Through all of my spiritual work, deep down, I know that this is just the fearful illusion of my ego, trying to keep me “safe.” In reality, I don’t truly believe this crazy-talk deep inside. At first I thought it was fear of failure or fear of rejection. Then, I realized that it was a much deeper fear. All of a sudden, I had an a-ha moment as I heard Marianne Willamson’s voice in my head with her world famous quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Yes, this absolutely rings true! I was on the brink of psyching myself out into playing small. We all do this. It really is our own light that frightens us the most.

You see, all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a writer. When deciding what to major in college, I shied away from pursuing writing as a career because I didn’t see how I could make a living at it. I chose a different path to pay my bills. But, in more recent years, I have been strongly guided towards it again. It truly feel it is my calling. I’ve amassed a lot of experiences and wisdom through the years in my entrepreneurial and life adventures and through my spiritual studies, which has all helped me tremendously with my own personal growth and transformation. I feel that it is my duty to share this information as I know it can help so many others as well.  And, through my blogging, I’ve made so many beautiful connections with readers and affirmed this truth. So, I had to give myself a little Marianne Williamson-esque, “who are you not to be a writer?”

I share this story with you because I want you to be aware of your own potential greatness! But, also to be aware of your own negative self-talk that will try so hard to snuff out your fire. You are meant to shine, baby!! We all are. And by shining your light, you are helping others to do the same.

Try these 4 steps that I used to put a muzzle on my own negative chatter:

  1. Be the observer. Instead of owning these thoughts as if they came from you, “I won’t win” “I can’t do it” — take on the role of observer, as if somebody else is saying them to you. This is called separating yourself from your ego. While the ego may have good intentions of keeping us safe, instead it keeps us living in fear and not taking chances or reaching our full potential. That voice is not who we really are!

  2. Notice how silly it can be. As I listened to my ego voice as an observer, I actually giggled out loud. “Where do you come up with this stuff? You aren’t very nice!,” I thought to myself. Then, I said, “thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this.”

  3. Channel your Marianne Williamson. ”Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Remember this line always. Seriously, who are you not to be?! Print it out and put it somewhere you can always see it. You are not alone. We all go through this, but you can rise above. You are meant for greatness!

  4. Remember who you really are. For me, I had to remind myself of my deep passion for writing. Also, I am not doing this for me, but I feel a calling to share information to help others. I’m not doing myself or the world any justice by copping out. Same applies to you! The world needs what you have to offer. Don’t hold back!

Finally, after doing all of the above, I sat down with more focus and clarity then I have had in a long time. The words just flowed out of me. I reconnected with my purpose. I might not be good at a lot of things, but writing is definitely my calling..

And, of course, this does not mean I am a shoe-in for the Hay House prize by any means. But, winning or losing this contest is not what matters most. It’s about pushing through personal boundaries. And, at the end of next month, I will have a completed book proposal. That is a big deal for me, regardless of the outcome. I will continue to push towards my dreams, silencing my own negative chatter along the way.

What about you? Can you think of a time when you were talking yourself out of your own greatness? How did you get back on track? Have you ever missed out on an opportunity because of your own inner-critic? We can all learn from each other and would love to hear from you in the comments below!

For more from Dawn, check out www.dawngluskin.com and join her inspiring Facebook community

Now. Here. This. – How to Stay Present to Your Purpose

be present.By Jay Forte

How present are we?

Most of us move through life entirely unaware – we move from thing to thing with little intention and focus. At the end of the day we fall into bed, barely remembering what happened during the day.

What if, instead, we truly showed up to each moment? Now. Here. This. (Right) now. (Right) here. This (exact moment).

See, each moment has the two things we need most:

  1. Our actual life.

  2. Information.

By being present and conscious in each moment, we fully connect with our lives. We experience what life shares with us – we are really part of life. After all, what other purpose do we have in life other to be present and experience it? Letting it pass by without really noticing seems a terrible waste of something so amazing.

The other important thing that happens in each moment is we gather information. As we show up present to each moment of our lives, we learn about life, ourselves and how we fit. The more information we have, the better our choices and the more amazing our lives.

I regularly say in my workshops that we were not born with an owner’s manual; at birth we don’t know what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. For this information, we need to intentionally show up to each day of our lives because we gather this information as we live. We learn what we rock at and stink at. We learn what moves us and bores us. We can see places of interest and adventure and places that we want to stay away from. All of this is in front of us in every moment. But we have to be present in order to see it, be part of it and learn from it. Now, here, this has all the information that we need to know how to be able to choose wisely in all aspects of work and life.

When we don’t take the time to discover what we are good at, are passionate about and what matters to us, we are unclear of what makes us unique and different. Without this information, our lives start to look like others’ lives instead of our own.

When we don’t know what our voice says (because we haven’t tuned in to now, here, this), then we take others’ voices on as ours. This will always lead us to others’ roads in life. As I tell my three daughters, if you see footprints on your road in life, you are likely on someone else’s road. Reconnect to now, here, this and get back on your road.

Life constantly presents each of us with everything we need; we just don’t seem to see what it offers. Most of the time it is because we are rushing and don’t make time for information and experiences that are right in front of us. Slow it down and all of a sudden life opens up. Slow it down to see what is right in front of us.

My father used to say that life is not a superhighway – it is a meandering path. Though the shortest distance may be between two points, life is not about getting someplace quickly; it is about the quality of the experiences while on the road. The meandering path gives different views at each turn; every event is larger, more interesting and has more to see and learn. But to enjoy the view you have to tune in – you have to make the time to be present, aware and conscious. You have to be in the now, the here and the this.

Showing up present not only is how we experience life, but it is also how we gather information to improve how we experience life. We have everything we need – it is always in front of us. We just need to train ourselves to slow things down to be part of it. So what’s the rush if all we do is get faster to someplace in work or life that doesn’t fit us?

Now. Here. This. Pay attention to right now. Be right here. Watch this. These are the steps to both learn about and experience a great and terrific life.

“Abused Goddesses”: The Ad Campaign that Tackles Domestic Violence in India

enhanced-buzz-13226-1378408862-44Hinduism is the most widely practiced religion in India and one of the largest religions in the world. It is a faith steeped in the concepts of karma, dharma, and the cycles of birth and death, watched over by central deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, among others.

Hinduism is also traditionally known to be highly reverent both the feminine and masculine forces in the world, paying tribute to gods and goddesses, alike. Some of these goddesses, like Parvati and Lakshmi are represented as ideal wives and mothers, modeling feminine virtue. But others, like Durga and Kali, and fierce and powerful in their own right, independent from any male god.

Unfortunately, this reverence in the spirit world does not always translate to real life. This is precisely why the ad company, Taproot, has developed a powerful campaign, called “Abused Goddesses,” to highlight the disparity between India’s goddess-centric religion and the troubling frequency of violence against women. The campaign states,

Pray that we never see this day. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.

Here are three poignant images from the campaign:

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o-TAPROOT-INDIA-570

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Taproot developed this campaign for “Save Our Sisters,” a nonprofit organization that works against domestic violence and sexual exploitation. The images mirror classical paintings of the goddesses Saraswati, Durga, and Lakshmi, and you may be surprised to hear that these images are actually photographs! Makeup was painted on the models to portray wounds of domestic violence, and props are either real or painted on, as well.

Even apart from the artistic skill that went into these ads, the message is crucial. It we as a culture and a society respect women in theory but not in practice, then we are bound for a regressive and continually troubled future. Let’s start treating women – and all people – like the gods and goddesses they are!

Does the “Abused Goddesses” campaign inspire you? Tell us your thoughts below!

The Best and Worst Advice I Ever Got in College About Work

.Labor Day Weekend in Boston means two things. Most working people with the day off flee, emptying the streets, taking to the highways, and soaking up the long weekend somewhere outside city environs, preferably with ocean or mountains and without discarded couches littering the sidewalks.

Meanwhile, most students from the city’s many universities (and recent grads from schools everywhere) are moving in, bloating the streets with their moving trucks and subjecting their dads to too many flights of stairs. (A retroactive and eternal thank you to my own father who did this countless times, including when he hoisted a table through a window to fit into a tiny Cambridge apartment, after cutting my box spring in half so that we could maneuver it up the stairway and reassemble it once in my new room. One could say I learned a thing or two about patience and problem-solving from that guy).

This year, I fell into neither category. I’m a long way from college, and I just moved this winter and don’t plan to do it again anytime soon. I no longer subject Dad to being Macgyver on moving days; I spring for movers. I also labored on Labor Day, teaching yoga to a packed house of enthusiastic, sweaty, come-and-get-me-September yogis at Inner Strength Studio. I planned for a video shoot with Runner’s World magazine this weekend. I did a little writing.

Yet, the momentum around me got me thinking about labor and the best and worse advice I got about work while in college. Two key moments come to mind, both of which occurred while I was choosing my major. English.

And I’d choose the same way if I were to do it all over again. Despite getting advice like the following, from the father of a young girl I tutored regularly as a side job. I remember the scene in their impressive Virginia home well. The older son was on the verge of an exciting milestone: his bar mitzvah, and the living room in which I helped his younger sister with reading and writing was overrun by elaborate party favors. I wouldn’t see this many gift bags again until my time as a marketing executive at Boston magazine, while planning massive events like its annual Best of Boston party.

“You have to think about the things you want to have and figure out the job you can do to get those things.”

At this, he motioned around the beautiful home at the things his work had materialized. I didn’t argue. He made a valid point. It was a beautiful home, and they were a lovely family. They seemed happy. If you want a nice home, you have to work to get it. This much I knew, and it’s in my DNA to work hard anyway. But I disagreed with other aspects of his statement. The pursuit of things wasn’t going to inspire me to study subjects about which I didn’t care or in which I didn’t excel. And who’s to say that once I got these things, I’d be happy?

Thank you, sir. Have a wonderful time at the bar mitvah. Little Sally, nail that spelling test, girlfriend.   

Needless to say, this was the worst advice I ever got.

The best came from my friend, Doc, one year behind me in school but infinitely wiser in many ways. He became a bit of an urban legend in the English department at the University of Richmond. First, he was male, and they were hard to come by in our course of study. Second, his memory borders on photographic. For the first few weeks of September during the fall that we met, I thought he was a total slacker. He never took notes, while I busily detailed everything our professor said. He seemed a little aloof, sitting back in his chair and occasionally glancing out the window at the blossoming trees outside. Why was he even in this class, I thought, my body pitched forward so that I wouldn’t miss anything. Craning myself closer to the Shakespeare lecture would obviously implant the information into my brain more effectively.

When we ended up in a study group together, the other girls and I expressed skepticism before his arrival… until he showed up and schooled the sh** out of us by remembering pretty much every lecture, quotation, theme, historical context, cross-reference, and footnote we’d covered that semester. Thus, Doc became my new best friend—and the source of the best work advice I ever got in college.

“College is not job training. When you get a job, they’ll train you. College is for studying what you love, enjoy, and want to think critically about. It’s about learning and learning how to learn—so that you can learn to be an expert at what you choose to do.”

I’m paraphrasing of course. I don’t have Doc’s memory.

So, I chose English. I minored in Women’s Studies. I was a class shy of an Economics minor, and if there’d been a major in Eastern Philosophy and Religion at the time, I’d probably have that too. I loved these courses, and they led me to work in industries I enjoyed, including education, marketing, media, and, yes, yoga, until merging what I enjoyed most and was best at into my work today.

The way my brain functions is no doubt influenced by how it learned to organize and convey information learned in college. However, the world changes drastically over a lifetime, and the best career investment one can make is the desire to work hard and tirelessly on a chosen path. The quickest way to burn out and become miserable is to work at something you don’t like for things that can’t make you happy.

I don’t have a lot of things, but I have all the things I need, which means that in a weird way both pieces of advice worked for me. Or, better yet, I worked for them.

What do you think? What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever gotten? What did you study in college, and how has it moved you through life?  

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

Your Life Can Be Soul-Stirring – Here’s How

another reasonBy Jay Forte

Most of us move through live in “vanilla” mode; things are fine – things are okay – not bad, not good – just okay. Vanilla.

What would life be like if it were soul-stirring instead? What if life were double mocha-chip fudge with caramel (sounds like a Starbucks drink) instead of vanilla?

Life is designed to be amazing. The purpose of life, according to the Dalai Lama is to be happy – to find and live what moves us, inspires us and stirs our souls.

But someplace in our histories we have been told that life is just about surviving – about just getting by. We are taught to fear danger, loss and lack, so we play it safe. We feel it is better not to live too large because that way we can minimize any large hurt or disappointment. We convince ourselves that good enough is the way to do life. We believe that adventure is for those who are not logical or responsible or for those who are brave and courageous – not us. So we perpetuate the view that we should minimize our impact and footprint – that we should live just under the radar.

Every day life delivers; the world meets us where we are. If we want small, sure, we can have small. But here is the great thing – if we want soul-stirring, we can have soul-stirring. It is nothing more than a choice. But if it is our choice, why do so many of us not choose soul-stirring?

It is the events, experiences, and stories that play in our heads that influence us to choose small. Whose voice do you hear telling you to pull back, don’t step out of line, do what others do and basically talk us out of our dreams? I wonder if it is truly your voice or the voices of parents, schools, friends, churches or colleagues. We seem to trust others who know little about the true us to influence how we see the world – our world. We defer to others to tell us how to do life. And for many, this forces us to miss out on what matters most to us.

There is a reason we call a great life soul-stirring; it activates the deepest part of us. We feel it down to our soul, our essence. At this level, everything about life is different – larger – more profound. The more we approach life this way, the more we see the opportunities it creates and more significant life becomes. We are moved just being part of life, instead of moving to get out of life’s way.

What if your work was soul-stirring – how much more significant would it be and what additional opportunities would it create?

What if your relationships were soul-stirring – how much more significant would it be and what additional opportunities would it create?

What if your life was soul-stirring – how much more significant would it be and what additional opportunities would it create?

What permission do you need to allow yourself to choose large over small? Get to it soon because each day we are not living a soul-stirring life is a day that is less remarkable than it could be.

Todd Henry, the founder of Accidental Creative and author of the new book titled Die Empty; Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, challenges us to show up big to life – to know ourselves and use up all of abilities – to “die empty.” Add to this the following perspective from the great Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment; and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” Wise words. Soul-stirring words. How do they inspire you to show up more significantly to your life?

10 Inspiring Quotes for Labor Day!

Faces from the St Patricks Day ParadeToday is the day we stay home from the office, enjoy the company of our loved ones, and pay tribute to the incredible work people throughout this country do every day. Many in our communities won’t even be resting from work today – the bus drivers, the janitors, the supermarket cashiers, and many others. Today is for them, and for you, and for everyone who works so hard to keep this country going.

Here are 10 amazing quotes on the virtue of work and the real meaning of labor:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

~Confucius

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Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

~Theodore Roosevelt

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All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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All things are difficult before they are easy.

~Thomas Fuller

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Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.

~Albert Camus

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Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

~Rumi

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The only way to enjoy anything in this life is to earn it first.

~Ginger Rogers

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To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.

~Pearl S. Buck

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No one can arrive from being talented alone, work transforms talent into genius.

~Anna Pavlova

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The greatest teacher I know is the job itself.

~James Cash Penney

5 Essential Questions to Lead You to Your Calling

o-FIND-YOUR-CALLING-570I was talking to a son of a friend of mine who is 16 years old and rather evolved for his age, and I asked him, “Michael, why do you think we are here?” and he said to me, “To wake up.” He proceeded to elaborate on that thought by saying: “I think most people are asleep — they don’t know who they are. I think we need to wake up to who we are.” He then asked me, “Agapi, why do you think we are here?” I had no hesitation replying, “I think we are here to evolve and transform, and I think that everything that happens in our lives, and everything that doesn’t happen is the journey to our transformation… I think fundamentally I totally agree with you, that we are here to wake up.”

This conversation prompted this blog.

There is an underlying and maybe sometimes not so underlying question, which is in all of us: What is the purpose of my life and what am I here to do? Obviously, each one of us has to find our own unique and personal answer to these questions.

“How can I find my purpose?” That’s a question I get asked a lot from people who are successful to unemployed, happily married to single, etc. “I don’t feel connected to a purpose,” they say.

I like to think of our purpose as our individual calling. It does not have to do with our accomplishments or our resume; it is a deeper thing that connects us to our heart’s pulse. When we find it, it adds meaning to whatever we do and helps us feel the true sense of what success is.

Either way, when we connect to our heart’s calling, everything starts to have meaning. So I have come up with five questions that as you answer can bring your calling closer to you.

What am I here to learn?
What am I here to teach?
What am I here to overcome?
What am I here to complete?
What am I here to express?

If you take a moment to answer these questions from an authentic, truthful place, the answers may be very different from what you had previously thought. These questions are meant to break down self-imposed standards we have bound ourselves with.

The answers to these questions are ongoing and evolving. At different stages in our lives, we are here to teach and learn different things. Nothing is set in stone. As you answer these questions, you may find that there is a blueprint that emerges that can guide you to what calls you, and as you follow that thread you start to experience more of an inner fulfillment. Going through life knowing that we are all teachers and we are all students, and we all have something to contribute, alleviates a sense of separation we often feel.

That knowing can bring a solace and comfort to the basic question: “Why am I here?” It helps us create a bigger arena where we can explore the dimensions of our lives. It adds tremendous creativity in our existence and makes us welcome the unknown instead of fearing it. It also puts us in the driver’s seat where we become the creator of our lives. Seeing that everything that happens in our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly, becomes part of life’s tapestry. Our life’s experiences are the alchemy that helps us transform and awaken to who we are. My mother used to say, “We are all born an original, and it is a challenge to stay an original in a world that tries to mold us to fit in.”

I personally started my life thinking that I was here to become a successful actress. I went to a prestigious drama school and was acknowledged and validated as a very talented actress, moving on to Hollywood to do a movie. When the movie did not work out I went through a soul-searching journey only to discover years later that my calling was not to become a successful actress and perform others’ scripts, but to write my own script, create my own life, and design my own set. I found my calling in a NY bus, performing for a stranger, realizing that I had to share my gift of expression unconditionally. I had restricted myself with expectations of what life should bring me until that moment.

Learning to become resourceful within myself was and is an extraordinary process, and the joy it brought me is invaluable. So often when I feel stuck about something the question I ask is, “How can I create a desirable outcome?” I return to the basics: “What do I need to overcome here?” It always leads me to taking a positive action. Sometimes it’s overcoming a misconception of inadequacy, or fearing to even try in case I don’t achieve the outcome I was hoping for. Overcoming that in itself creates a huge amount of space for all sorts of possibilities that you may not have even thought of to surface.

The mistake we make as human beings is how we attach ourselves and our well-being to external circumstances for validation. The irony is that some of the greatest awakenings we often have are triggered after things don’t work out.

I have often heard statements such as, “Breaking up with this person and going through my divorce led me to find myself and who I really was.” “Leaving the job that I thought was it, lead me to find out what I really wanted to do,” etc.

I hope that these questions bring you a lightheartedness to what can be the serious quest for our life’s purpose because they are meant to bring clarity. I see these questions as a compass to our center, out of which we can enjoy our lives no matter what.

The funny thing is that I am writing this blog as I am sitting with my Greek friend Stavroula, who works with me, having a glass of wine, some mozzarella and tomatoes in NY’s Little Italy. I’m watching people in the summer evening walking about at a slow pace, licking ice creams, couples holding hands and kissing, children running around, men cruising and tons of people sitting on the pavement having dinner, stress-free, enjoying life in the moment. As I am witnessing these rich moments in others’ lives, I can’t help but think to myself that maybe the sixth and most important question is: “Are you enjoying your life, my dear?” and if the answer is no, ask yourself why not. If not now, when.

 

For more, visit my website: www.unbindingtheheart.com

 

Photo credit: Getty images

Deepak Chopra: Finding Your Path in Life

This is something so many of us struggle with. Who am I? What is my path? In this episode of “Spiritual Solutions” on The Chopra Well, Deepak addresses this major question.

Brian recently dropped out of medical school and is wondering how to find the right path in life. How do we figure out our purpose and what path to take to achieve that purpose? Deepak Chopra provides a few suggestions – by looking at the relationship between meeting our needs and fulfilling a purpose. Needs may include achievement, love, success, higher consciousness, etc. Ask yourself: Who am I? What do I really want?

Are you trying to find your purpose? Subscribe to The Chopra Well and let us help!

Why Love is the Answer to Living a Life with Meaning

Don't Let Go.While at dinner night one night, I had a discussion with an accomplished and influential man who has touched the lives of many millions of people in a very positive way. He was sharing how at the ripe old age of 10 he first realized that he was conscious. It led him to the conclusion that “there must be some meaning or purpose as to why I am here.” He became determined to live his life from that vantage point.

Now that he is quite a bit older, he is considering whether there is still a purpose for him and even if what he had done had been useful. I, of course, seeing the value in his work, chimed in with a resounding “Yes!” I could clearly see there was still plenty of purpose and meaning to be found in the years that lay ahead, no matter how many or few.

Another man I know is 15 years younger than the first and also looking back on his life trying to make sense of it all. He can’t seem to understand that there are still plenty of moments left for him in which meaning can and will be found, even if his past wasn’t all he wanted it to be. Instead, he is running laps in the playground of his mind, which from my perspective is different than gaining awareness and altitude. But hey, it’s his playground.

In my early twenties, I read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In it, the author introduces what he calls an existential vacuum, a condition that exists when one’s life is empty of meaning. When this vacuum is present, it is as if existence has a large hole in it that cannot be filled. A friend of mine at that time was a psychiatrist interested in levels of consciousness and why people felt this vacuum inside. In his quest for awakening and awareness, he introduced his friends to a veritable garden of spiritual teachers, each with a different take on the subject.

From that point on, I was fascinated by the existential, the spiritual practices of all religions, the experiences of mysticism, and the many ways people look for meaning and purpose in their life. Like my friend, I found my spiritual teacher and my spiritual practice. The sense of isolation I hadn’t previously understood shifted almost immediately. The emptiness related to my food addiction was more complicated and took many years to overcome.

As for my meaning and purpose, I spent decades searching for the answers. In the end, it all boiled down to “Whatever the question, love is the answer.” I discovered that the greatest gift I could give someone was to really listen to them and let them know that they mattered. To let them know that they were not alone – that someone cared about them. That in fact, all of us are part of a grand whole in which we are all interconnected.

I found new meaning when I shared my authentic experiences by helping others to understand that while we are different, we are the same. That each of us is ordinary, doing the best we can with what we have been given, and with what we have chosen to develop. And when I am communing in that way with others, I am in touch with what I have come to know as Spirit.

By loving and offering support wherever I can, in whatever small way I can, I find meaning in the moment. And since life is made up of moments, I can focus on those, and not have to ponder the imponderable or drive myself nuts with how many angels can actually dance on the head of a pin. Rather than get stuck in that place of no return, I return to the spiritual experiences, the transcendence of this level that I can have in the quiet when the peace descends and love enfolds.

We live in stressful times with people searching for significance in the chaos and peace in the turmoil. I think it can be helpful to look at the ways in which each of us finds meaning and then share that not only with everyone we know, but also with anyone who is looking. To that end, my daily questions to myself are, “Did I partake in the opportunities for loving that were presented to me today?” “Was I grateful?” and “Did I listen to and act upon the wisdom of my heart?” This wisdom tells me to always be open to the possibilities of new meanings, awareness, and new awakenings.

 

Originally published July 2010

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