Tag Archives: find your purpose

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?

Do you want to become a Buddhist – or the Buddha?

path

 Do not become the Buddhist – become the Buddha.

There. It is right there. I searched for it, chased it, tried to catch it and pin-point it since last night. Since the conversation about following a path.

I couldn’t see why. I couldn’t see why I would need to follow a path to myself. I am here after all, already here. Everything that I am — me, God, Buddha, everything. What path? What path is needed to take me to what I am?

But then, I thought, to realize it, to feel oneself, to find oneself among the noise, among the constant, overwhelming, imposing and dizzying hubbub of the mind — maybe there is a path there. Maybe there is something that has to be done, worked on, achieved, to see clearly. So what would I do? What did I do? What was the first step on my path? It was looking for someone who could help. It was to look outside. To look to others.

That was my first step on the path, on the journey to becoming a Buddhist, a student, a spiritual seeker.

Ceasing to look to others for help was the first step on the path to becoming myself.

Because it was myself I wanted to find. Not the Buddha. Not the enlightenment experienced, envisioned and described by others — but myself. I did not want to become a Buddhist. I did not want to become the follower of Buddha, or Christ or anyone else at all. I wanted to become myself and, to become myself, I had to follow myself.

And it was in that moment, in that very first moment of making the choice to follow myself, my own path, my own way, that my journey was finished for I reached my destination.

It did not require esoteric practices, twenty years of meditation, chanting, praying. All it took was the choice to be me. All it took for me to be me, was for me to listen to myself, to look into myself, to follow myself. Because I was already there.

All I needed to do

was to trust myself.

You Matter

you-matter

 “Don’t think about me. Don’t think about how I will respond or what I want you to be. Just be what you are. You have to find yourself.”

This is what my husband told me today and I must tell you, I squirmed. For a few reasons.

First and foremost — because he was right, damn him! He said it when it should have been me. Me, the terribly wise and present person who thought herself oh so … whatever … ah, in short – I was ashamed of myself. My pride smarted because I could not deny the fact that he was right and I was thoroughly messed up.

Which was another reason for squirming? I am not supposed to be getting messed up anymore. I am supposed to have outgrown it.

And then there was the fact that I knew he was right because I saw it before we had this conversation, and my seeing it made no difference at all. I collapsed nonetheless. Back into my messiness, back into the uncertainty and fear, back into the endless “what am I going to do with myself” questions, the “why am I here?”, the “what is being done to me?” questions.

Questions, questions, questions that plagued me and worried me and hurt me. Questions that made me scared of life, scared of the world, scared of myself.

I’ve been lost in them for a very long time, and then I looked up for just a moment and then I was myself again. Myself. Here. I could feel myself and there were no more questions. Instead there were my choices. Nothing was being done to me anymore – I was doing. I was choosing. I was creating. What? Oh, that mattered not at all. Answers mattered not at all because I was back and I did not need to look for answers anymore.

What mattered was that I was back, me — the creator of answers. And I was safe.

You Were Born to Be Happy, So Never Stop Playing

ParagliderBy Jay Forte

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Someone once told you that life was supposed to be hard, difficult and challenging. They told me the same thing. So for the longest time we believed that work and life were to be difficult if they were to matter.

I don’t believe that any more. Life is not meant to be won or lost, only played. And “played” is the operative word. We are here to play in life. We are here to enjoy, experience, learn from, improve and be thrilled by the amazing things on our planet.

So imagine this: we are each given an undisclosed amount of time with the only instruction to go discover what you love and are good at, then use it to make your life, and that of others, amazing. The guidance isn’t to go find what is difficult for you and the things that make you unhappy and go do those. Rather, find what moves you and plays to your intrinsic and unique abilities – your talent, strengths and passions. This is so that as you move through life, you love it.

There are over 7 billion people on the planet. No two of us are exactly alike in abilities, talents, passions and interests. There is room for each of us to define a great and happy life according to what moves, inspires and excites us. There is room for each of us to play in life.

Most of us struggle in life because we don’t know ourselves well. We don’t know what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. When we don’t this, we don’t know how to build our lives and work in a way that allows our best to come through. We follow where others tell us to go. We work in jobs that don’t fit us. We believe things we are told to believe, and follow others rules instead of following our hearts. Everything then feels like work. Life isn’t fun when we live someone else’s life. Their definition of a great and happy life will never be exactly ours. And until we live ours, we will always feel that things are more work than they should be. Until we live our definition of life, we will never play as much as we could to fully experience and love life.

Suppose for a minute that instead of telling yourself that life is hard, difficult and a challenge, you heard that life is wonderful, joyful and fun. What if the story we tell ourselves is one that is uplifting, powerful and amazing? What would change? What opportunities would present themselves that can’t surface with such catabolic thinking and energy? Our thoughts create our emotions, which drive our actions. Change our thinking and we change our lives. Change from “life is difficult” to “life is meant to be played” and see what life becomes for you.

We choose everything in life – everything. So if we choose to love life, appreciate what shows up, learn from everything and stay focused on the joy of life, we intentionally and consciously build a happier life. We can shift our energy to one that is optimistic, encouraging and empowering. We have that power. We just need to believe that it is possible and choose it. There isn’t anything else involved.

For this week, start each day with an intention to have more fun and play more in life. This doesn’t mean you aren’t serious about your work and your life decisions, but these decisions can also bring you great joy. Change your thoughts, change your life. Tell yourself how you want your life to be. We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop play. Play on.

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

Feel Reality

panther

The growl was rolling in my throat. A rhythmic, vibrating accompaniment for the movements of my body, the soft steps, the stretches and contractions of muscles. I moved a paw forward and my lips lifted over my fangs. Wild. I was wild. I was a wild cat. Another step crumbled a pile of dry leaves, I moved my paw, I moved my hand, I touched the soft, rumpled blanket. Bed. I was in bed. There was silence and soft breath near me, there were the heavy spots of warmth where dogs slept. I was in bed.

I was wild. I closed my eyes again. The forest was warm, pulsating with life. Life I could feel … I can feel it! I thought “I am a cat and I am the forest”. The thought brought others along, “I am the cat” I thought, and the cat became distant, distinct, separate. “I am being the cat” I thought, and stopped being it. I was thinking now, moving back into my body, back in my mind watching, observing, describing … “no!” I thought, “No! Stop thinking, stop thinking … be…”

I padded through the forest, with the forest, as the forest. I felt it on my skin. I felt it in my muscles. I felt the tension, the softness, the presence. I felt it as my body. I felt the trees and their silence, the buzzing of their flesh, of my flesh, stretching high towards the sky. I felt the water spilling over a damp earth. I felt pulled downhill with the rushing streams, I flew over rocks in the rapids with the dancing rivers. I felt the fear and submission of prey hiding nearby, in thorny bushes and earthen holes. I felt their timid presence. Their rapid, pulsating life was my own.

I felt another life, strong, powerful. Present. I felt it and knew I must meet and confront it. My authority against it’s. We must try each-other. The tension must be resolved. The strength must be tested. Hierarchy must be established.

I felt the forest, I felt being, I felt life. I was life.

“Now you know,” said the cat, “now you know how you can be wild in the world.”

“Yes. Thank you”

There was an acknowledgment. The cat left.

I lifted my head, I opened my eyes. In the midst of the night I was wide awake. “I was a wild cat!” I whispered to my husband. “Oh,” he said.

Oh.

There was nothing more to be said.

More by Pausha Foley:

I am that I am

Life After Facebook

You Create

Why Isn’t All This “Good Advice” Working For You?

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 1.02.00 PMEvery day you are bombarded by well-intentioned, “good” advice ranging from stress management to diet and exercise. Sorting it all out can be difficult, especially when it’s conflicting: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” versus “out of sight, out of mind.”  Some of this good advice is a mysterious secret which will be revealed if you buy the book, and some of it comes in the form of meditation and visualization tapes which speak to you personally – you and millions of others listeners. And this is precisely the problem: One size does not fit all.

If you tap into YOUR gut intuition, you already know:

  • What your healthy balanced meal plan should  include – which foods agree with you and which don’t
  • The specific daily exercises which work for you
  • How to reboot your natural rhythm
  • That stress is internally driven and based on your perception
  • The person you need to forgive
  • That getting a good night’s sleep is restorative and how you should proceed
  • That how you wake up in the morning impacts your entire day

For example, let’s look closely at this last point. I prefer to set my alarm clock five minutes early which gives me greater control to wake into consciousness. By easing into awareness I can set the tempo and focus necessary to begin my day. I believe that my daily awakening is so important that I prepare for it the night before with my own intention for the next day, like laying out my clothes for work in the morning. I prepare a phrase that I find from a poetic, philosophical or religious work and on many evenings I write my own words by reaching into my heart. I know what I need to tell myself to manage my day. Since seasons and conditions vary, my self-help messages will be different. I don’t need to listen to someone else telling me what to think or envision.

Bottom line: No one can motivate you. To generate will power you need to create “resonance”. Whatever you desire to achieve, whether losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, pursuing a higher degree or dating again, you need to reflect if what you wish is in harmony with your inner self.

The key question you need to ask yourself: Do I really want to achieve this goal? Or is this a goal that:

•I believe I “should” pursue

•My parents always wanted for me

•I feel pressured to achieve because of competition with friends and neighbors

When you are in harmony with yourself, you will be eager to complete any goal which you genuinely want because it is your heart’s desire. On the other hand, you lack will power because subconsciously you really don’t want to change the status quo. You might be getting some reward even from a bad habit. For example, some of us pity ourselves and enjoy playing the sympathy card. “Poor me, I can’t meet any good men as they all seem to be taken. I’ll just have to fill my empty heart with this rich, creamy ice cream.”

Ultimately, don’t give away your power. Hypnotize yourself! Self-help literally means self-help.

Are You Trying To Find Your Purpose?

Enjoying the sunHas trying to find your purpose ever stressed you out? Do you feel some sort of pressure to make something meaningful with your life? In the past, when I heard people talk about their purpose, I would feel stressed and believed I was supposed to be doing something different or more with my life.

I thought that I needed to be clear about what that purpose looked like in the physical world. I then realized that by searching for this clarity, I was missing the life that was actually given to me as this present moment. I realized I had been missing the opportunity to express what was most important to me while I was searching.

What if it’s not as complicated as the mind makes it out to be? What if in the larger picture, what you’re doing is not as important as how you are being while you are doing it and the quality of energy you are putting out into the Uni-verse?

We are all hooked up differently to feel alive and sometimes it’s just about paying attention to what already lights us up. One thing that has helped me get clarity around this, and that I often recommend to clients, is having what I call a Joy Journal. It consists of taking some time every night to simply write down your favorite part of that day: this could be connecting with a coworker on a break, teaching a child how to ride a bike, or even being in nature or with animals.

Over time I was able to become more aware of the themes that spoke to me and I consciously created a job that brings in those elements and that feels aligned with my values. I knew I enjoyed connecting authentically with people, creating environments where people could more deeply discover who they are and ask meaningful questions.  I loved being a part of an inspiring community, and I knew I loved Bali.

So… I created a Wellness Retreat to Bali and over the last four years have been leading groups there on an immersion retreat where we do yoga, daily meditation, we get massages, eat raw food, get inspired by each other and also express our creativity. At the heart of these activities I could see that what I truly value is consciousness work, genuine relationships and supporting people. It’s no surprise that I also work as a psychotherapist because these qualities are expressed in that work as well.

It’s not that my purpose is my work, but my work supports me in expressing what I hold as most important to me. The invitation is to first clarify what you truly value. If at the heart of things you hold important in life is love, then discover how love expresses itself in your life moment-to-moment, person to person. Or if what you really value is service, then simply asking yourself everywhere you go, “How can I best serve here?” is a way of embodying your purpose. Then watch as life unfolds by honoring what is truly in your heart.

You can trust that the intelligence that holds the stars and the galaxies in the Uni-verse is also orchestrating your life… you can rest in that. A flower doesn’t know where it is going or its ultimate purpose, and yet it still blooms… something in it knows.

Goals are fine, and if you already have clarity about a specific expression your life is taking, then follow that, assuming it’s aligned with your heart. Just don’t get lost in the goal, thinking that getting “there” will somehow deeply satisfy you. It’s easy to have the end in mind or believe you have a purpose and then lose sight of the other 90% of your life, brushing your teeth, driving to work, meeting people at the grocery store, etc. This 90% is as much a part of life as the other 10%. By mentally living in the future, we miss out on the opportunity to express what we truly value now.

Often what we actually deeply yearn for is the creativity and spontaneity that arises out of the present moment. I invite you to enjoy this discovery as you let go of the stressful ideas about how you believe life should be, and experience the fullness of following what you truly value in your heart moment-to-moment.

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”  ~ Mother Teresa

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