The most important thing I learned in all my yoga training had nothing to do with yoga.
And yet it had everything to do with yoga.
Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it had nothing to do with asana. It was about the deeper question that I believe arises for most of us at some point.
“Okay, so I know how to do/teach yoga. I’m feeling empowered. Now what?”
Let me tell you a story.
Once I had a vision.
I saw myself dancing with children in a sun-streaked room.
At the time, I was teaching in a studio without windows. But, within a year or so, I found myself teaching in a new place, a strangely familiar room that had windows with blinds though which the sun, yes, streaked.
Soon, I began teaching yoga to kids and families in that space. My vision had become my reality.
I believe we hold within us the wisdom we need to live the life of our dreams. We just have to “see” it, ask and then watch our dream manifest. The only caveat? We must be sure that we’re acting from our true purpose rather than reacting to all the other influences that beckon and nip.
Manifestation isn’t my usual language but I can’t deny what happened to me.
Since I now find myself in the rather surprising position of teacher, I want to help other people uncover their purpose and live their dreams.
I use tools that I received in the “Yoga in Action” group curriculum from Off the Mat, Into the World, a service organization founded by yoga teachers Seane Corn, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling (also the authors of the curriculum).
These teachers wondered how they could affect true change in the world. Now, they lead yearly pilgrimages to impoverished parts of the world to build schools and other resources. They also offer activism opportunities and training, including Yoga in Action groups.
If you have the chance to participate in one of these sessions, I highly recommend it. My group (during which I had my vision) in 2009 was a pilot, so the program may have changed some since then.
One thing I imagine hasn’t changed is the commitment to service and helping people find and live their true purpose.
One quote from Julia Butterfly Hill especially resonated then (I can tell by my dark underlines) and still does today.
When we get clear on our purpose, we get in touch with the magnetic true north that has always been inside of us, waiting for us to discover it. We realize that our happiness, power, and dreams do not rely on outside forces to manifest (as we constantly search for them trying to align with them), but rather are hiding inside the miracle that we are waiting for us to call them forth.
Of course, there was much more to the group experience than quotes and questions. But they make a good point of entry so I’m going to share a bit more below in hopes of helping to kick start your own purposeful dreaming.
Grab your mat and a journal. Light a candle, maybe invite a close friend to join you. Do your practice and then sit in quiet meditation. Breathe.
Now reflect on the following questions. Write down whatever words and images arise.
1. What are the things that you most love to do? What gives you the greatest feeling of satisfaction, joy and fulfillment? During which activities do you lose track of time because you are so immersed?
2. If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do?
3. If you only had two years to live, what would you do?
4. What one great thing would you try to accomplish if you knew that you were guaranteed success?
5. What impact or influence would you like to have on the world? How would you like to make a difference in the lives of others? How would you like to be remembered?
Consider sharing your thoughts and dreams with someone you trust. And be sure to save these notes so you can look back and be amazed at your progress.
Like elephant yoga on Facebook.
Ed: Kate Bartolotta