So, I started the week with a quote from Swami Vivekananda:
Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor you want is within yourselves. Therefore, make your own future.
If you’re steeped in Western traditions and education, you may be more familiar with this poem which shares a similar sentiment:
BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
We frequently hear how important it is to take charge of our lives and live with purpose. While a simple enough concept to grasp, implementing it can be difficult. Many of us must overcome years of conditioning which teach us to look outside of ourselves for affirmation and permission to simply be.
This outward looking continues well into adulthood. The people providing affirmations and permissions shift and change over time–from parents and relatives, to teachers and friends, to significant others and employers. It can be challenging to make the internal shift necessary to look within ourselves to find and affirm our life course, our dharma (purpose), and live in alignment with it. I think there are seeds which must be planted and nurtured in order to live this way.
1. Commitment: Commit to taking the time to sit with your thoughts, parse through them and cultivate those which seem the most authentic to who you are and who you desire to be.
2. Compassion: Be compassionate with yourself and others; change is inevitable. Hopefully, the changes you encounter lead to your personal growth and well being.
3. Happiness: Do the things which bring you happiness so you may be a light to those around you.
4. Risk: You will experience discomfort, maybe even anxiety or fear as you commit and act in ways which align with your most authentic self. Being real is enlivening and it carries risk. It is so worth it.
For me, this is the beauty of yoga. Through the asanas, yoga poses, we explore our limits; those we’re afraid to attempt or struggle with teach us our power, our strengths and the rewards to be reaped, confidence, steadfastness and equanimity, as we work through obstacles and challenges in the metaphors of the poses.
5. Acceptance: Know that everything will be all right. The world has an uncanny ability to find its level like water. Accept what cannot be changed and work to create the possible changes you most desire.
Today and every day presents a new opportunity to find your center, to live in alignment with it and make positive changes for yourself and your community. It’s a glorious day to be alive. What will you do with it?