In Yoga philosophy ‘the life we are meant to live’ is called our Dharma. There is no one English word to describe Dharma, it has many meanings and is a term of great importance.
Dharma is what your ‘duty’ is in this life. Another translation I love is “that which upholds or supports” It is also described as
- That which brings well-being and elevates one
- Leading to happiness
- The cementer and sustainer of social life.
- All external deeds, as well as thoughts and mental practices which elevate the character
- The principle of righteousness, the principle of holiness, the principle of unity.
- Whatever puts an end to conflict and brings about unity and harmony.
- Anything that helps to unite all and develop love and universal brotherhood. (Anything that creates discord, split and disharmony and foments hatred is not Dharma).
- The means of preserving one’s self.
- That which helps you to have direct communion with Peace.
- The regulation of daily life.
We serve others by living our Dharma, our soul purpose, completely. In the Bhagavad Gita, a yoga scripture, it says, “It is better to perform one’s own duties imperfectly, than to master the duties of another. By fulfilling the obligations you are born with, you will never come to grief”
Sometimes we feel that what we do is insignificant or unimportant. We may belittle our roles of raising children or keeping house, we may resent the necessity of mundane tasks, administrative work or paying bills. We may compare ourselves, and our lives, to others and see ourselves as lacking. Again the Gita says “No-one should abandon duties because he sees defects in them”.
So even if we feel our Dharma/our duty/that which is given us to do, is tough or goes against the grain it can get easier the more we try to find what my teacher calls an ’angle of repose’ in the midst of it.
The more we can pause, rest and access a larger vision, the more we enoble our life. We may even get a sense that our life is important to the world. I quote my yoga teacher “the inner expansion of oneself as a human being is always intimately tied to one’s relationship with the world”
So I ask myself “what are the qualities of the heart that I bring to the situation?” And importantly, “what is my intention?”
Our intention colours all our experience, it doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it has to be sincere -the way we set the table, greet loved ones, make the bed.
I like to pause and ask – Is this bringing me closer to peace? Am I becoming more agitated? How am I looking at my life? What judgements and opinions am I heaping onto certain situations? Are there moments of joy? Does this action bring me joy? Am I being of service?
If we are loyal to the practice of pausing, resting, to clearing the mind, we will have a safe harbour in times of challenge. Again the teacher says “let the mind lie down and the wisdom of the heart take over”
And finally a beloved Poet says to make it a task to love the questions.
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” – Rilke
Bernadette has worked with the Quest for Life Foundation since early 2006 and is the Senior Facilitator on our residential programs. Her work is treasured by our participants and our team. She has also been developing and refining a deep understanding of the use of appropriate yoga and meditation approaches for use in oncology and with serious illness.
Bernadette maintains close association with International Yoga Teachers Association and is a senior lecturer for their Teacher Training Course. She has designed and delivered yoga teacher training courses for other organisations. During 5 years in the UK she taught retreats, workshops and classes across the UK and in Europe and worked as a personal ‘lifestyle’ coach. Bernadette brings a gentle and loving nature with insight and compassion borne out of her experience. She can assist a deeper connection with the body as a means to rejuvenate the spirit.