“Knowing your true calling in life is a luxury,” someone once said to me, “and forget about living it, if you do know it. I’m too busy just trying to survive.” This skeptic of living one’s passion and I were having a conversation about my work as an Integrative Health Coach (IHC). IHC is a term I coined a decade plus ago after gathering multiple certifications and degrees. As an IHC I wear multiple hats. Sometimes I assist folks with their physical self and the vision they have for their health via exercise, nutrition, flexibility or other physical modalities. Other times life coaching is the medium engaged in more heavily to clarify mental frustrations or to address soul related issues. No matter what avenue we take together, the quest is almost always the same – a desire to regain or ignite the deepest self. A sense of loving one’s self and one’s place in the world around them.
This connection to self is deeply explored in the book I am currently reading for the local yogi book club I assist in sponsoring. Stephen Cope’s introduction to The Great Work of Your Life quotes various mystical references to a self centered passion awareness. Gnostic Gospel of Thomas is one,
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you; if you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
I know destroy feels a bit harsh. However, think of someone you know who lives with no passion for anything in life. They are just living day-to-day just trying to survive and get through. “Christian saints,” Cope notes, “called [this] ‘a desert experience.’” Being a witness to a life slowly being destroyed by a lack of any sense of self truly hurts my heart not because of my work, but also because I have been on both sides of the desert experience. Cope’s book is born into an age of great dichotomy between a world distracted through all forms of technology, which I think keeps us distracted from any inner sadness (that could prompt us to seek something beyond a quick technology fix). The emergence of reaching out/yearning to connect to the deeper self and those surrounding us is why, I believe, things like yoga, life coaching and other self-exploration activities are flourishing. I’ve been watching this underlying yearning to understand and unite with our deepest selves/ callings/dharma for many years now. It is what has kept me personally continuing to persue a vision I had long ago.
My personal sense of calling came quite early as I lay in a Southern California hospital bed facing a 50% chance of surviving a massive tumor living in my chest. Up till that moment my twenty years of life hadn’t prompted me to think about a calling. My pursuit of a modeling career, which took me from small town Wisconsin to Los Angeles, was more something I did because I thought I wasn’t smart enough to do anything else. Plus it was fun, hip, glamorous and something I knew would make anyone jealous of me. Meeting rock stars, having a line of lovers and partying on the beach seemed like a dreamy life. A life I truly never ever thought I’d have. At the end of my first year in Southern California I had filled up my time with a bunch of great memories and stories, but was seriously deaf to my own dharma. The long days of chemotherapy and radiation following the initial diagnosis drew me closely to my core self. Through hours of meditation, visualization and exploring my inner self I often gained glimpses of another side of myself. The closer I examined her I realized this life wasn’t just for focusing on myself. These visioning sessions of then are now akin to an exercise we do in Catalyst called Future Self. The youth lie on the floor and are guided through a journey of meeting their future self and gathering any information that is made available to them. I am realizing this direct correlation between my past and current as another threading of my dharma into my present life.
Back in the mid-80’s I so badly wanted to be her, she seemed genuinely happy with her life. I was not. I wrote all my visions down for self-healing, as well as a way to share this with others. Over then next 15 years I worked away at, what I know now was the manifesting of my dharma. I learned about the components of quality nutrition, and the use of fitness for all around wellness all the while experimenting on myself. Cancer had stopped me long enough to put my ear up the conch shell of life and hear the distant calling. I was grateful to be coming closer to feeling the tug for life every day. I believe that tug, to this day, is my dharma continuing to pull me forward. I see the dharma manifest in another when a person’s face lights up upon discovering a deeper connection to their sense of self in a coaching session. I feel a deep sense of knowing it is the right path when I share products I truly trust (like USANA) and they change how people feel every day in their physical bodies. I love when a smile from a yoga mat reflects outward a person accessing an asana as they have never before experienced it. I feel blessed to no longer be deaf to my dharma.
FURTHER PERSONAL EXPLORATION
Inquiry questions are used by coaches to assist their clients in exploring stuck places. Stephen Cope wrote several questions in the book’s introduction, which can be used as initial queries for your own reflection process. The key is to answer them honestly for the sake of your dharma exploration.
Am I living fully right now? OR Am I living my life’s calling?
Am I bringing forth everything I can bring forth? OR
Am I digging down into the ineffable inner treasure-house that I know is there?
Am I willing to go to any lengths to offer my genius to the world?
Want to explore more e-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org, to set up a complimentary half hour session.