The Bhagavad Gita talks about dharma, your calling – your path in life. We live in a culture where comparison to others is almost hardwired into our DNA. We are constantly bombarded with images and ideas, thoughts and suggestions about how everyone is living their life and how we could improve or change our own. Further, those images can get us to start comparing what we are doing to what it “appears” everyone else is doing.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:
“One’s own dharma, performed imperfectly, is better than another’s dharma well performed…” BG 3-35
I remember seeing an image of someone rock climbing and doing a back bend down the side of the mountain, and I thought “I should do that, I want to do that” and then I remembered that I hate heights, I get scared out of my mind when I have to climb up something tall. Why on earth would I want to do that? But, in the moment, I started to feel a sense of envy that I was not living up to my full funnest potential and somehow this image was capturing what I was missing in my life. I should be living her life!
How crazy is that? Not so crazy for many of you I am sure. If you are reading this you have probably also compared yourself to someone else’s fun vacation (my daughter fought with her boyfriend the whole time via text), kale/vegetable garden (my kale got eaten by a host of things when I tried to grow it), perfect smoothie made from the random ingredients plucked out of their fridge (wilted celery, wet spinach and an aging apple?), perfect partner (OK mine is perfect lol), perfect children (I have a 16 year old right now ‘nuff said). You know what I am getting at…
Somehow the look of everything around us is shinier, better, faster, newer. What does it take to look at your own life and see the shine? For me, it takes study and practice. My life today looks very different from how it looked 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. I am a yoga teacher now and when I was in my first teacher training, I did not even realize that it was a teacher training! I just wanted to dive deeper into learning. Well, it is 20 years after starting my yoga practice and look where I am now. Believe me, my dharma has changed. What motivated me before is not the same now. The teaching is part of my studentship. The teaching is part of my devotion. My dharma changed and I followed my own path. I continue to follow my own path. I have a passion for learning and teaching that I can never seem to satisfy. But, at the same time that I am working on this material dharma, what I do in the world, I am also working on my spiritual dharma. What are the deeper lessons? The studies that keep taking me further in so that I might actually meet the world in a different place.
Perhaps I need a little more balance in my life too, like maybe everything I do does not have to be yoga related. I am working on that now. I went to Kent Falls last week, that was a big step for me. Get outside of my studio and the study and planning and actually step my foot on the earth and see the world off my mat. So, my life is not perfect vacations and kale farming, but I see the shine. I see it because it is coming from me, not at me. I see the reflection of my own light out in the world. I see it on the faces of students who are inspired by what I teach, who are inspired at my studio by all the teachers gathered there sharing what they know and feel passionate about. That is their light shining out of them and illuminating this lovely little space. May we all continue to follow our own dharma and shine our own light.