In Sanskrit, the word “dharma” means duty or simply, “how the world works”. Dharma is what knits the universe together.
The term “svadharma” (“sva” meaning self) suggests that each of us has a true calling, a gift to give, and a sacred duty to offer the world that is distinctly ours.
Others have known since they were young what their true calling is. However most of us are not that fortunate and must spend some time figuring it all out.
Sometimes our svadharma can be evasive and as a result we can feel lost. For me, this happened just after graduating from college. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, what occupation to choose, and I certainly had no clue what my purpose was.
At the time, I had a conversation with a very wise and dear classmate of mine (in the same predicament) who said something that made all the difference. He proposed, “Maybe we need to do something totally arbitrary until we discover what our true purpose is. Otherwise we’ll just be paralyzed waiting to figure it out.”
And it worked. Making the choice to do something, anything – to dive in and experiment, was the key to honing in on what it was that sparked my true calling. After working in retail, trying my hand at acting, and teaching self defense, what I discovered was that teaching yoga would be my life’s work.
The reason that starting with something random works is that rather than focusing on the desperation of not having a purpose, you turn your mind toward activities you enjoy. You get out in the world to get your feet wet; to learn about your preferences, gain clarity about your strengths and weaknesses, and make meaningful connections with others.
In the epic tale of the Bhagavad Gita, we learn that whether or not you recognize your gifts in this life, your actions play a part in something much larger than yourself and extend out to your loved ones, your community, and even to the planet itself.
Regardless of whether you’ve discovered your svadharma or not, one thing we know is true – your actions matter. Your actions make an impact on how your life transpires. And you are always drawing on your freedom to choose your actions.
Inaction and passivity are choices too. Therefore the sooner you start making choices from an active place of your truth and from your authenticity – even if that choice feels arbitrary – the more powerful and directed your actions will be in the world.
It can be hard to grasp how the littlest things or seemingly insignificant deeds can have such a deep impact on the world. But you can and you do make a difference.
Expanding your self awareness, jumping into life wholeheartedly, and practicing yoga with commitment all can help you access your svadharma. When you get a glimpse of your soul’s truth, your words will pour out of you from a place of power, your actions will line up with your values, and rather than sounding or being like someone you’re not, your soul will shine through.
Photo: Taro Smith
Amy Ippoliti is is the co-author of the new book, The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga. She is known for bringing yoga to modern-day life in a genuine way through her intelligent sequencing, clear instruction, and engaging sense of humor. She shares her passion for yoga, health, and earth conservation through her writings and underwater imagery with marine animals. A teacher on YogaGlo.com, she is a pioneer of advanced yoga education, co-founding 90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 65 countries. Visit her online at amyippoliti.com. www.pinterest.com/amyippoliti/, www.instagram.com/amyippoliti/