Ayurvedic author Sahara Rose said: “When you change your world, you change the world”. This is a very powerful sentence to reflect upon and as 2022 draws to a close, it may be timely to consider your dharma or your life’s purpose. It implies that when we live according to our higher purpose we experience feelings of satisfaction with the way we express and share our unique gifts, and in doing so we touch the lives of others in a positive way.
The concept of dharma has roots in several religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and also in Ayurveda. It refers to the big reason that we are here, our purpose and our desire to fulfil our unique destiny. Dharma is a theme that runs through much of yoga philosophy. Indeed, the Bhagavad Gita (India’s revered spiritual scripture) states that since the beginning of time human beings have felt drawn to understand their place in the broader scheme of life and to grasp that our individual happiness is linked to the fate of the world around us.
So how do we find our dharma? Dharma is more than simply changing your career path or other lifestyle changes. Firstly, it is about doing something that we really love and using the mediums that most suit us. Maybe that medium is writing, maybe it is speaking or some other creative medium like art. Ask yourself what it is that you most enjoy? What makes you feel alive? Could you incorporate more of it into your life? If you are feeling stuck and thinking about the future does not excite you, you are not living your dharma. What changes could you make?
They do not necessarily have to be big things, but small changes can sometimes turn your life around.
Recognising your strengths and talents is another important factor. It can be quite revealing to ask friends and family members what they perceive as your unique strengths. This can be powerful if there are recurring themes, especially when you yourself have not acknowledged them. It is also really important to note the obstacles you have overcome so far in your life and to appreciate that sometimes obstacles such as illness or the breakdown of a relationship can be our greatest teacher, although it certainly won’t feel like it at the time.
In order to find your dharma, your decisions and choices must also support your higher values. For example, if family is your number one value, the choices you make shouldn’t negatively impact them; if they do, again, you are not living your dharma. Sometimes we will have to unlearn certain things we have been conditioned into, and as you let go of what you are not, you will find more of who you really are.
In order to determine our true nature or calling, we must be prepared to do the work and look and listen within. There is no better place to do the work than on your yoga mat or meditation cushion. So as we head towards another year, what could you do to find your dharma?
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.