This blog post is a little different than usual. I’ve taken one of my assignments for my Yoga Therapy Teacher Training and turned it into an exercise for you. If you’re interested in doing it, I would love to have your input!
This blog is called Skip to My Lou, My Dharma because 1) It’s a pun and I love puns, 2) The first time I learned the word dharma, I absolutely fell in love with it, and 3) Skipping is actually a part of my dharma. Dharma is a complicated concept that I could talk about for hours, but for our purposes, I will simplify.
Dharma is the true nature of things, and the path to that true nature.
So, your dharma is your very own personal path to enlightenment, and your own true nature. It doesn’t require any work. No matter what you are doing, no matter where you are on the path, that is your dharma. It is your true nature, the ‘underneath all of the trapping of this world’ kind of nature. It is the you that you could be if everything else was stripped away.
If we live a life in line with our own dharma, our own true nature, we will be more content. If we can uncover and become aware of that true nature, and continuously stay connected with the things that we are passionate about, the things that are important to us, our lives will be more fulfilling.
Our dharmic path changes throughout our lives, sometimes by our own doing, and sometimes by things beyond our control. When I was younger, my dharma was to be a student; of school, and of the world, to learn and grow and expose myself to everything I could. For a while, my dharma was to be a mother; to parent in a way that was in line with my nature of compassion and curiosity.
This recent pandemic has caused me to once again take a step back and look at my life and reevaluate my dharma. Am I still on my path? I’m still headed in the same direction, but the road has certainly changed. You may be at that place yourself. Feeling a bit derailed from your dharma.
So… Here is an exercise.
Take some time to think about your core values, your interests and your passions. Over the course of a few minutes, or hours, or days, make a list of all of the things in this world that light a spark in you. Write down everything that lights up your life. Anything that sparks inspiration, or motivation or joy.
Some examples might be: music, friends, honesty, laughter, justice, hobbies, personal interests, secret desires. Even if you haven’t done them in a long time, like dancing, or jumping rope, or volunteering. Even things that lit you up when you were a kid, like splashing in puddles, or skipping… Anything that you can think of that inspires you, or makes you feel happy, joyful, useful, focused or determined. Anything at all.
Write them all down.
Next, draw a circle with a sun in the center (or a candle, or a lightbulb) and transfer your list into the circle. Put the things that fire you up the most closest to the sun. The things that light you up less should go closer to the edge of the circle. Fill the circle with your words.
Next, take some time to look at the things that are closest to the sun. Maybe you can draw a smaller circle closer to the center to get a better image. Read all of the words in that smaller circle.
How often do you do those things? Are they incorporated into your life? Monthly, weekly or daily? Are they a part of your livelihood? Is your work life in any way reflective of these words? Are you living a life based on these personal ideals and desires?
What would a life full of those inner circle things look like? Based on those things closest to the sun, what do you think your dharma might be?
Next, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, and listen to this brief guided meditation.
Has this exercise reinforced any of your life choices for you? Has it inspired you to do anything differently?
If it has resonated with you in any way at all, please respond in the comments or send me a message. Your shared experiences will help me to become a better teacher. And listening to others’ experiences is definitely a thing that is in my inner circle, very close to my own sun. Sharing words is a huge part of my dharma.