How do you want to spend the rest of your life?

Via Michelle Margaret Fajkus
on Jan 22, 2012
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To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. ~Oscar Wilde

Since death is certain but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?

Just like you, I am in constant motion. Just like you, I must wake up from the cocoon of my habit patterns.

We have been given the gift of life, the gift of dharma, the gift of yoga.

Our society is getting better and worse all the time. Our culture is evolving at breakneck speed. Infinite information is available everywhere. It’s all so overwhelming. What to do?

I live in questions. For me, being open-minded (and open-hearted) is incompatible with anxiety and depression. Instead of seeking concrete answers, I aim to dwell in the questions and look deeply at details. The answers are always unfolding and evolving with time. There is no period at the end of the sentence

One morning — I think it was Tuesday — this question came: How do I want to spend the rest of my life?

It’s a question you could ask yourself every day.

The phrasing of the question strikes me. It’s not asking where, nor “what I want to do” with the rest of my precious existence in this particular incarnation. It’s asking how.

Maybe it’s an obvious question, but because I’ve been so focused on the where and what rather than the how, this question feels rather revolutionary.

For the past 2.5 years, I’ve resided in Guatemala City. This summer, I will be moving; that much is certain. Everything else is up for debate. Most importantly — where? As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” What about before you make a decision? Does the universe conspire to help you choose? Certainly, as long as your mind and heart are open to receive.

For me, it’s between Asia and Atitlán. Either the other side of the globe exploring uncharted territory… or 2.5 hours from here, at a gorgeous lake surrounded by volcanoes.

Even though I have chosen to make this move, because I want to make a move, it’s scary. My ego doesn’t appreciate groundlessness. Like any scared spiritual warrior, I will sit with and experience the fear rather than hide from it. Is it fear of being poor? As a school teacher in Asia, I could put away up to $20K per year in the bank; as a school teacher in a Guatemalan pueblo, I’d make just enough money to cover my living expenses. But there’s always variable yoga income to consider. With regard to my somewhat blurry vision for expanding Yoga Freedom — is it fear of failure? Or of success?

I itch to know the answer, to see into my own crystal ball. I crave swift progress, a sudden epiphany. My mind wants to sniff around every possibility, but that gets overwhelming. Occasionally, I am overtaken by a great sense of peace and patience. I am willing to wait, to progress like molasses, as I sit and meditate and breathe and practice forward folds and heart openers. I rest assured, because no matter where I am, I’ll be living my yoga.

Everything within and without tells me that 2012 is the “year of manifestation,” and I believe it. But it helps to know what you are manifesting. To take the baby steps or excited leaps with intention and clear vision.

So, I’ve been pondering and responding to the question lately. How do I want to spend the rest of my life? I answer mostly in prose, sometimes by doodling. And, a poem:

How do I want to spend the rest of my life?

Living in questions
Gazing at violet sunsets
Loving deeply
Inviting intensity
Cherishing the moment
Thanking life
Learning precious lessons
Teaching yoga
Practicing nonstop mindfulness
Writing poems
Breathing with equanimity
Generating compassion


These two gems of wisdom recently popped into my consciousness (via my inbox and facebook feed) at the perfect time. I love it when that happens!

“…We leave our homeland, our property and our friends. We give up the familiar ground that supports our ego, admit the helplessness of ego to control its world and secure itself. We give up our clingings to superiority and self-preservation…It means giving up searching for a home, becoming a refugee, a lonely person who must depend on himself…Fundamentally, no one can help us. If we seek to relieve our loneliness, we will be distracted from the path. Instead, we must make a relationship with loneliness until it becomes aloneness.” ~Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Whoa. Yeah, I forgot to mention fear of being alone. Though I like my solitary time, and I am single, like many of us who aren’t with a partner for life (yet?), I fear that I never will meet that person, but rather wander this world alone. This quote reminds me that loneliness and aloneness are two different things. What a great intention — to “give up the familiar ground” that supports my ego.

Let me remind you who you really are: You’re an immortal freedom fighter who longs to liberate all sentient creatures from their suffering. You’re a fun-loving messiah who devoutly wants to help all of your fellow messiahs claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright.

~ Rob Brezsny, Free Will Astrology

Yeah! I am!

How do I want to spend the rest of my life? Writing, teaching, healing, traveling, serving, loving, expanding. Moving as gracefully as possible from moment to moment. As for the specifics, I’ll figure those out in due time, I trust.

And you? How do you want to spend the rest of your life?

No matter what the answer — even if there is no clear answer at the moment– I wish you progress and peace on the path.



A Sakyapa Prayer for swift progress on the spiritual path

by Deshing Rinpoche:

By the blessing of the Triple Gem,
May the minds and hearts of all beings
Be attuned to the sublime Dharma.

Bless us to move forward on the path of true understanding;
May the way be cleared of all impediments.

Bless us that the illusive vision may appear in clear light
of the transcendent wisdom of Buddha;
May unwholesome thoughts and unskillful actions cease to arise.

Bless us with the awakening of true love and compassion
May all beings together realize perfect enlightenment.


About Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a Gemini yogini, writer, teacher and retreat leader who founded Yoga Freedom in 2002 in Austin, Texas. Her home since 2012 is Lake Atitlán, Guatemala where she lives in a tiny eco cabin with her Colombiano partner and their adorable daughter, dog and two gatos. Michelle has been writing this column for elephant journal since 2010 and has written some inspiring books, with more on the way. She leads yoga and mindfulness retreats and serves as the retreat managers for the stunningly beautiful Villa Sumaya on majestic Lago Atitlan. Her lineage is the very esoteric Yoga Schmoga, which incorporates hatha yoga asana, dharma (Buddhist) teachings, pranayama (breath work), yin yoga, mindfulness practices and meditation. Join Michelle on retreat in Guatemala!


11 Responses to “How do you want to spend the rest of your life?”

  1. yogatrail2 says:

    Hi, I recommend Thailand! Chiang Mai is the most beautiful place, and there is quite a strong yoga community here. Great thing about yoga, it's easy to find almost anywhere – trick is to find YOUR kind of yoga (of course, if you self-practise it's not an issue).
    Nice article.

  2. yoga freedom says:

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Thailand is definitely on my list of possibilities, although I've haven't been there yet. I appreciate the suggestion! 🙂

  3. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  4. Hannah says:

    Beautiful and inspiring. 2012 IS the year of manifestation.

  5. yoga freedom says:

    Thank you, Hannah!

  6. karlsaliter says:

    Very good stuff. I really liked the Rob Brezsny quote.

    I second the Thailand nomination, including Chaing Mai, and I will add Pai into the mix.

  7. melissa says:

    "My ego doesn’t appreciate groundlessness."
    This really resonated with me. As someone who always feels the need to control… letting go of that and allowing the universe to conspire… it often my biggest challenge.
    Wherever you go, I wish you the best in the journey of it. b/c I feel it's not where you are but really the route you take to find where your heart has longed for…. that's the path.
    fellow EJ contributor. : )

  8. yoga freedom says:

    Thanks very much, Karl, and welcome to Elephant!

  9. lea beeson says:

    I’m walking with my father. Closer then ever.:-)