When we embark on an authentic discovery process of dharma, we inevitably come face to face with challenges.
Most notably, our inner challenges. Fear of "shining too bright"; fear of "failing"; fear of "getting it wrong"; fear of standing out and feeding our life long experience of feeling like an "outsider"; fear of, "not knowing enough" etc.
Inner voices of "who do you think you are?"; "what could you possibly have to offer?"; "you're not smart enough, ___ enough....; "that's just plain silly""
Then there is the dance of what I affectionately call the "waiting game".
For many years for me this looked like, "well, when I get it all figured out, then I'll be willing to step out with what I know I am here to do"; "One more course should do it"; "I need to wait my turn"; "Oh look, someone else is already doing this"; "once my son is all grown up"...etc. You get the point.
Then....there is a more subtle challenge of letting ourSelves own the truth of our experience. This for me has been interwoven with themes of listening to my intuition, trusting my intuition and cultivating faith in the larger "ME" that I AM.
Coming to own inside
I am whole, unique & essential to my world.
My presence matters.
There are a ton of methodologies, approaches & processes available today to support people to embark on their dharmic discovery journey.
Life purpose is a cornerstone for many coaching & development disciplines.
Metaphysically & Spiritually there are also many conversations held around one's dharma.
At some point, we much move beyond the discovery of insights and move into presence & action.
This can be quite scary. Most often we're stepping into a territory that is uncertain & unfamiliar. We've not been there before. As much as this is good news, it's challenging in & of itself. I liken this to "Bambi attempting to stand on the ice".
That shaky leg feeling when you declare your choice out loud. You start approaching your practice and work in ways that are more authentically aligned to who you are. You follow your intuition, even when everyone around you reflects the "trout face". You know the confused, glazed over stare of "you're doing what?"
This is a key reason why it is deeply important as we choose to live into our dharma more fully, we connect in with a community of champions. A space and place where you can go to get a "reality check" from others who are cheering you on to shine. Who also are authentically traveling their path of conscious service.
Stopping the Search, Be here, Now
I have found in my own journey & studies, that, there are MANY ways we naturally express our dharma.
When I've stopped. Yes, stopped the search & chose to presence "the now", my awareness grew with how I was indeed expressing my dharma. I was drawn to exactly the "right book", I met my "next teacher/guide". My intuition channel softened & opened. I began to cultivate a deeper layer of understanding my dharma.
Life flows in cycles
There are times in our lives when our more poignant form of dharmic expression is in raising our children. Working to indeed earn that pay check. To support caring for our elderly parents. For stepping into formal study and training. For letting go of who we've been and how we've served, so that, our next chapter can truly emerge.
Today, I would invite you to expand your consideration of dharma in your life.
In setting the stage for this conversation...
Personally I LOVE Rod Stryker's work on Four Desires.
Dharma - purpose & meaning; Fulfilling our duty; Moving along our path
Artha - the means to fulfill our purpose
Kama - pleasure
Moksha - freedom
This is based on the Hindu view of four aims/goals of life, known as chaturvarga.
Caroline Myss offers a lovely snapshot of these here.
I love the marriage of the spiritual and practical invitations of this perspective. It feels more inclusive of the "purpose" and "dharma" conversation.
In that, it acknowledges the layers that interplay and serve a greater journey.
Dharma in the west most often gets tagged with what we "do" in life. And, more specifically, what we get paid for.
With a broader view, we can see that in fact, dharma at this level expression isn't the whole story.
Suffice to say, Dharma doesn't stand alone.
And yet from an astrology perspective we each incarnate with a focus for our contribution this lifetime. In studying Vedic astrology, it is so cool to see how our astrological chart is encoded with energies that reveal our make up relative to these four desires.
Dharma, "living on and with purpose" for many of my clients, is a high priority.
Often when I begin to work with clients on the "hunt" for identifying greater fulfillment, relative to their "purpose" we'll enter our conversation together leaning into components beautifully outlined in the Happiness Project.
Fulfillment is a great inquiry.
One that has been running in our life experiences since we've taken our first breath.
When we meaningfully align what we're offering in the world with our service and what we're paid for, IT'S AWESOME!
And...there are times when in the pursuit of this, we could be missing all the other ways ~ spaces & places where we are, or could be also aligning more with our dharma.
Years ago I remember working with a client who became clear her mere presence was healing and uplifting to others. This was challenging for her. It took some time to settle into her being with this awareness and then choosing through her expressions, integration happened. With greater ease.
In my work with women on their empowerment sojourn, the Soul of WellBeing is a critical component of our work together. If we're not feeling well inside, if we're not cultivating a centred and compassionate relationship with our LeaderSelf, our capacity to truly be effective in the long run, in any area of life is challenged. This speaks to the first level of dharma, physical. A more inclusive stage is set when we create good space inside.
From a Vedic perspective, I love to share a view that there is actually five levels of dharma.
This perspective creates an expanded platform from which to engage our dharma one choice, one breath, in this moment.
It brings into focus a holistic frame for designing a life that honours our dharma beyond what we do & in particular what we do for a pay check:)
A broader take on purpose
Having this broader perspective on dharma has supported me to stop. To reflect. To put down all of the steps and processes and just engage my life. To release my grip on the search.
I am discovering, as are many clients with whom I work with, is, that dharma is a multi-layered pathway of living. Versus, a destination. A question that must be answered before we can _______.
Dharma is an elegant dance of our being AND doing in this world.
Briefly, the five levels of expressions of dharma.
Physical dharma (skin – in; roots of gut health; Thoughtful engagement of our Mind-body complex; Creating good space inside). Here Ayurveda & Yoga offer wonderful approaches to working with our mind-body complex.
Environmental dharma (skin – out; how I relate to people; Thoughtfully co-creating conditions & circumstances in my environment; creating good space outside). This is inclusive of the re-imagining ME & WE conversation. Vastu is an arm of Vedic counselling that is helpful. For women a key theme is boundaries. Boundaries show up in many forms. A key start point is in energy management, and specifically practicing healthy energy boundaries
Social dharma (This is where we identify, empower and embody our leaderSelf beyond pure survival; meaning & service live here; creating good space in our service). From a dharmic archetypal lens, I find it valuable to support clients to explore their Dharma Type. In addition we connect in with their astrology and work with their spirit directly through the CODE Model to evoke the wisdom that is awaiting their attention for service, today in their life.
Spiritual dharma (the space and place where God lives ~ the essence of who we are~within the space between breaths; here meditation, breath, engaging the body as a Quantum Biological Processor and stillness imbues our daily lives; creating good space with the Divine ~ the essence of who we really are).
Cosmic dharma (our astrology, known in Vedic astrology as Jyotisha). This is our ultimate space of evolution. Where we working with our evolution of karma, transcend our limiting views of what and who we are. Living in/ from a view of life and death as a continuation of our infinite essence, our true being. Here is where we can gleam much wisdom from exploring our astrology. Creating good space with our cosmology.
All levels of dharma interplay together for our “current state of well-being”.
On a micro level, consider how today in each & every interaction and choice you engage what are you noticing about dharma?
How you're choosing to relate to your dharma?
What layer of dharma is calling your attention?
In choosing to become spiritual warriors I believe it's critical we wrap our arms around our dharma.
We share it, we shine in it.
We roll around in it.
We evolve it.
We redefine it.
We just BE with it.