Purpose…

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“Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are.

You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself.”

Karen Maezen Miller, Momma Zen

As a yoga teacher, I was privileged to study at the feet of the master, Shanti Gowans.One of the very first assignments I received from her was simply entitled ‘The Path to Self’.  It had to be so many words (I can’t remember how many now) but it was long – well ‘long’ in thought at least! Little was explained other than to understand one’s ‘purpose’.

OK then, that’ll be easy I told myself. I sat at my computer, typed the title ‘The Path to Self’’, wrote one line that read something innocuous such as ‘My Purpose is’…and six months later I still hadn’t written another word. The journey was arduous, difficult, trying, hard, tough, tiring, severe, painful and exhausting and every other emotion I can think of to define the word. It did my head in!

I was totally miserable that I couldn’t write such a simple paper. Simple???

And then of course, it dawned on me. Why was I here? I really hadn’t a clue.

As one of my students once commented when I asked her to define her purpose, she simply said, “Oh I can’t think about that! Otherwise I might get such a fright that I have been living all these years without doing one single thing about it!”

Of course, there were hints along the way. I had worked hard and long, pushing my way through life, achieving, creating, giving…..but was I truly on ‘purpose’? I expect I was too busy surviving to sort that out.

It took a year or two for me to work out what on earth I was doing here and then nervously I handed the assignment in.

Many months later my teacher arrived in Melbourne, my home town. I hadn’t heard from her and I was surprised that nothing was mentioned.  I finally plucked up the courage and asked her what she thought of the paper.

“Oh”, she replied, I didn’t read it”!

???

That was the lesson of course, only I could find my purpose; no-one was going to find it for me; nor assist me in understanding who I truly am.

And……as I am writing this now and reflecting on ‘Why Am I Here?’, the wonderful poetess Mary Oliver comes to mind with her gorgeous poem ‘The Journey’.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do,

and began…….

So to truly understand my purpose, I had to first look at who I am. Um…scary!

I had to make change and allow the true being inside of me to rise, flourish, flounder and discover; flounder again; flounder again; flounder again and again; and then be prepared to face the fact that I had, and still was, climbing the wrong mountains. I had to let go, fall and fall, and then climb back up the rock face to do not only what makes me happy but to convert that happiness into a contribution to the earth. For otherwise, my happiness would be short-lived, superficial and forged.

My understanding and personal journey of discovering my purpose is clear…

I had to discover my talents; look under many rocks; polish them and know how to bundle them so that they may benefit others and society, and I believe it is my moral obligation or duty to do so.  Otherwise my skills are wasted.  But I needed an enormous amount of courage to face this so-called ‘purpose’, and copious quantities of patience to allow it to manifest.

Then the question is, how to do your duty, how to best contribute – or, as the theologian Frederick Buechner put it, your vocation lies “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet”.

My purpose is to serve.  Perhaps I am not on my own here, perhaps it is OUR purpose.

 x Annemaree x

  

I took this photo of a painting hanging in the spa at Shreyas Yoga Retreat in Karnataka.  It is beautiful I think, and typical of some of the lovely Indian art one finds whilst travelling throughout the country.

 

 

 

 

 

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From Here to There…..

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‘Where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet’

 

How do I find my way?

How do I journey from here to there?

Where am I now?

Where to now?

Why am I here?

No matter where I go, my shadow lingers behind me, a kaleidoscope of broken dreams, distant memories and fearful rides. Best to tip-toe out of it gently, I think, but not too abruptly or the future will draw me into its untenable illusion.

Be silent. Be still. Be present.

I  seek the sunshine, to step into its light and feel the warmth on my back

And I know, I must keep dancing on the sun drenched stage. Alive with desire, awakening to dawn, realizing my gifts, knowing myself, coming back home to me! To that place that was, that was here, that is there, that is now.

The more I observe, the more I am present, the more I feel.

As I stand still amidst the flora of my existence, I watch with curious eyes and I hear with awakened ears the toll of time…this moment….this precious moment.  I learn what has brought me here and where I must go.

Is my ‘meaning’ for living, my purpose? Or is my purpose the path I create and pursue to fulfil and validate the meaning?

I tell myself to know my purpose I must understand my values….

Perhaps my most treasured value at this time is freedom….to flow freely in body and mind….to love freely….to be free from illusion and old tensions…to be free from complexity, hedonism and selfishness –  to ‘know’ peace.

Could it be that my purpose is to discover who I am? Who I am becoming?  And then? How to nurture who I am?  To love and understand myself at the very deepest level.  To develop strength, resilience and courage to guide myself back to ‘me’ when I have lost my way? And as is often considered ‘to step outside of myself to connect, to serve the world and to attend to others”.

And then surely the crux of my ‘meaning’ and my purpose (once recognised), must be to give and to love….is there another? To give to others, to give to myself, to love others, to love myself.

Is having meaning then something I do rather than something I feel? And finding this activity, this job, this eudaimonia, shall I then live a life of ‘human flourishing’?

And so this passion I feel within me….this joy….can only surely stem from the knowing…the understanding of my deepest desires?  My inspired mission.

It is said: ‘He who gives, gathers’   I would add: ‘He who loves, lives’

How do I become so sure of my path?

I come to silence and allow the truths to surface….the answers to come…..and no matter how I resist this understanding, until I accept my power, my skills, my knowledge, my true self, my ‘meaning’, I can never pursue my purposeful path, nor seek the warmth and adventure of a passionate nature.

Thus my quest!

Yours?

Annemaree x

 

 Something to reflect upon:

“Leading a eudemonic life, Aristotle argued, requires cultivating the best qualities within you both morally and intellectually and living up to your potential.  It is an active life, a life in which you do your job and contribute to society, a life in which you are involved in your community, a life, above all, in which you realise your potential, rather than squander your talents”.

The question is how to do your duty, how best to contribute – or, as the theologian Frederick Buechner put it, your vocation lies ‘where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet”.

 

(Excerpts taken from Emily Esfahani Smith’s book ‘The Power of Meaning’.

 

The tender side…

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“No beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart”.

This photograph uplifts me in a way I find difficult to express, shivery in a soft and beautiful way.

It exudes tenderness, warmth, compassion and love. Aren’t these emotions the crux of our humanity?

And then… I turn on the radio and listen to the ‘News’ and want to shoot myself! The more I teach yoga, the more vulnerable and exposed I feel. But I also realise that an open heart leads to greater pleasure and joy and therefore greater pain and sorrow. One cannot have one without the other. Pleasure and pain are inextricably entwined.

Thanks to the media we are constantly exposed to heartache. Heartache over things that we cannot control, help or even identify with. Do I need to be exposed to every murder, flood, landslide, car accident, bashing, bully, terrorist, fire, bombing and shooting?

Could I not just look at the tender side of life?

Perhaps not always… but much of the time?

Recently I listened to an interview with the Australian actor Samuel Johnson.  Sam, with his foibles and gut-wrenching honesty is what I would consider to be a wonderful brother! Lost his mother to suicide; the love of his life also to suicide; and his sanity temporarily to drugs. But always by his sister’s side and she by his. He created ‘Love Your Sister’ charity to help raise funds, as he put it, to annihilate the indiscriminate venom of cancer.  Something which his sister Connie had been fighting for 23 years. And sadly Connie lost her battle with aggressive breast cancer only a few weeks ago. Sam does something to fight back. In his own interminable manner, he attacks that which hurts him most, but with great zest and tenderness.

Is that perhaps one way of recognising our purpose?  By fighting back for something we believe in so deeply?

Is that what we all need to do? Brandish the sword of justice in some personal way? Whether it be to donate our pennies, our time or our organs; to support a cause; walk for peace; offer a helping hand; smile at a passer-by or to offer our service for no apparent reason. Imagine if we could toss the coin of harshness in the air and each time it landed, it landed on an about-face – the face of ‘tenderness’. That means we have to tear open our hearts, be prepared to hurt, give exponentially, let go of having so much, give more than we thought, and be courageous! All of us can display narcissistic traits, but all of us can also be empathetic.

We need to look at the gentle side of life….seek the beautiful stories….mix with sensitive beings…….cut off from that which we cannot cure, help what and when we can. Do something no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Don’t you think?

Every kind action will manifest a karmic ally somewhere, somehow, even if we never recognise it’s unfolding.

Let’s face it…..the tender side is always more digestible!

 

…as I keep reminding myself.

x Annemaree x

 

P.S. This photo found its way to me.  I am not sure how or when.  I have pasted it on my wall in the room where I am writing this and I frequently just sit and look at it.  I honour the person who captured this moment. Thank you.  Thank you.

 

Why Am I Here? Pt.1

Mary Oliver

As a yoga teacher, I was privileged to study at the feet of the master, Shanti Gowans. One of the very first assignments I received from her was simply entitled ‘The Path to Self’. It had to be so many words (I can’t remember how many now) but it was long – well ‘long’ in thought at least! Little was explained other than to understand one’s ‘purpose’.

OK then, that’ll be easy I told myself. I sat at my computer, typed the title ‘The Path to Self’’, wrote one line that read something innocuous such as ‘My Purpose is’……and six months later I still hadn’t written another word. The journey was arduous: difficult, trying, hard, tough, tiring, severe, painful and exhausting and every other emotion I can think of to define the word.

It did my head in!!!

I was totally miserable that I couldn’t write such a simple paper. Simple???

And then of course, it dawned on me. Why was I here? I really hadn’t a clue.

As one of my students once commented when I asked her to define her purpose, she simply said, “Oh I can’t think about that! Otherwise I might get such a fright that I have been living all these years without doing one single thing about it!”

Of course, there were hints along the way. I had worked hard and long, pushing my way through life, achieving, creating, giving…..but was I truly on ‘purpose’? I expect I was too busy surviving to sort that out.

And……as I am writing at this moment and reflecting on ‘Why Am I Here”? the wonderul poetess Mary Oliver comes to mind with her gorgeous poem ‘The Journey’.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began…….
“Mend my life”!

So to truly understand my purpose, I had to first look at who I am. Ummmm………..scary!

How many blogs and pieces of information do you come across that tells you what you already know?

How about the answers? How do you work it out?

Well, I can only speak for myself, but over the next few weeks I shall give you some of the paths I took to try to understand myself and therefore discover my purpose.

I hope I can throw some light your way.

…to be continued

P.S. I am writing this for those of you who have recently commented about being ‘lost’ and not ‘on course’.