Last week, my Ayurvedic Practitioner program started its summer term. This professional program is an extensive 1500 hrs curriculum of study in philosophy, psychology, pathology, herbology, nutritional therapy, clinical internship, hands-on practice and Sanskrit learning for disease management and lifestyle pathology. As a mompreneur, I’ve got a lot on my plate balancing the business, teaching and practicing, raising a son, and studying, so I’ve committed to just two classes this term : Spiritual Health and Healing, and Women’s Health.
Call me a philomath (a lover of learning and studying), but I can’t get enough of this program and am continually blown away at the richness of content presented in each lesson. The Women’s Health class is incredibly insightful thus far and I question why we aren’t given the opportunity to learn about our bodies, our rhythms, and the physical changes that happen each day, month after month, as part of our education in school. These are such important things to know and consider as they play a huge roll on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. I promise I will share everything I learn from this course as soon as it’s finished – stay tuned!
In the Spiritual Health and Healing class, the last two weeks have piggy backed on a single question. The talks are brutally and honestly insightful, and equally challenging to remain present and focused throughout. At one point, I caught myself speeding up the playback setting to 1.5 times just to get to the point. Talk about Vata pushing Pitta. That’s Ayurveda talk for a diagnosis of impatience. I’ve since replayed the talk, at normal speed, and have gained so much more because of that.
I digress. Back to the question. Our on going ‘om’ work for this class is to ponder and respond in our own why the answer to this question :
What is the purpose of life?
My immediate reaction was, ‘pffft, that’s easy. The purpose of life is to do your work’.
As quickly as the answer popped into my mind, even more quickly another question rebutted my answer : what is the work?
Pondering life’s purpose is a rather deep and complex task that I am certainly no expert in, at explaining or even understanding, however I feel like I have dipped my toes in the well of comprehension and am gaining clarity day after day. Called dharma, in Sanskrit, the concept is to learn what it is to live in the ‘right’ way, that is your right way. The ‘right’ way, of course, is incomparable person to person for we each have one-of-a-kind workloads that we must attend to. Whether that be as a mother, teacher, friend, employee, boss, etc., our ‘work’ happens as we are called to duty.
In the ancient Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita, prince Arjuna struggles to understand, accept and do his life’s work, which spoiler alert, is to lead his army into battle. He wrestles back and forth between what he thinks is right, what he thinks is wrong and what his duty is through it all. He is tossed between what he doesn’t trust, and therefore doesn’t do, until he finally starts trusting in the truth of his existence and knows in the deepest of meanings what it is that his life purpose is – a.k.a his dharma.
In my elemental understanding, dharma is being able to deliberately, honestly, and authentically live and lead by example, no matter what it is that you set out to do. Through trial and error, often a lot of trial and error, an individual starts to get a sense for what resonates, what feel aligned and what feels right. I believe that finding, honing and authentically sharing the talents and gifts of who you are, what you are passionate about, and what you are continually working through, to be the respective duty of each and every individual. Like pieces of a mystery jigsaw puzzle, understanding your dharma is a practice of seeing yourself not as a collection of broken bits, but rather colourful pieces and parts that uniquely fit together thus enabling you to fulfill your life’s purpose with a confidence and grace wrapped up in the truth at your heart.