I have been reading a compelling book called The Great Work of Your Life, written by a dear friend, Senior Kripalu Scholar-in-Residence, Stephen Cope. Stephen’s insights in this, his third amazing book on the philosophy of yoga, are illuminating some of the challenges in my professional life as a yoga instructor. As such, it is aptly subtitled, A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling.
You might think that after 30 years of teaching yoga that I would be fully confident and sailing smoothly in my calling (a.k.a. dharma). Not quite. My journey continues to include encounters with doubt and anxiety. Although I have never questioned whether to follow my passion for teaching yoga, I sometimes find the requirements of the business aspect of my chosen profession to be overwhelming or even discouraging which taints my perspective on what my life’s true work is about. Reading this book is increasing my ability to untangle the threads of these challenges.
The practice and study of yoga can help us navigate the constant flow of challenges that are unique to our times. From the Bhagavad Gita, a 2,000 year-old text, Stephen draws relevant parallels from ancient wisdom to “life off the yoga mat” in the 21st century. Stephen points out that the Bhagavad Gita “was written precisely to show us how to make the world of action (the marketplace, the workplace, the family) an arena for spiritual development.” This process involves honoring my calling and integrating my spiritual journey and my day-to-day activities whether it be dealing with an abundance of incoming emails, planning my next workshop or mowing the lawn. Although this is not a new path to me, I sometimes feel a sense of urgency to “get it right” at this stage of my life.
Because I find the inspiration in this book to be so relevant to my personal yoga journey and my work, it has been a page-turner and a guidebook. Stephen describes what the process of following a true calling looked like in the lives of several people he has admired in his life. He discusses Krishna’s lesson for Arjuna in which he affirms, “We cannot be anyone we want to be. We can only authentically be who we are.” Since I sometimes discover that I have been unconsciously attempting to be what I am not, I find that piece of wisdom to be a great relief. He also quotes the Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau who said, “Be Humbly who you are…be resolutely and faithfully what you are.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Stephen, a masterful yogi himself, reminds us that, “Our actions in expression of our dharma – my actions, your actions, everyone’s actions – are infinitely important. They connect us to the soul of the world.”
This book holds many more pearls of wisdom; to borrow a cliche´, this is “a must-read” for all yoga teachers and yoga enthusiasts.
An affirmation that came to me:
When I am humbly myself, I connect to the stream of Creation, and life flows.
So grab your oar and together let’s row gently, taking time as needed, to float and rest.
Blessings and happy reading!,