I’ll be honest. Lately I’ve been really questioning the life I have chosen for myself. Most of the time I feel lucky that I found my way to this path of being a creative person: a musician and a yoga practitioner and teacher. Both endeavors, yoga and music, deeply satisfy my need to express and to create, and just recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to commit to these practices full time. But like any creative process, there exists a continuous flow outward. And this can be beautiful and fulfilling on its own. Though when your dharma becomes your profession, things can get complicated. Lately I’ve been looking around for the flow inward to feel like it matches and balances the state of steady outward flow that I live in. I’m looking to create what feels like a reciprocal circle.
And let’s be real. When our passion pursuits become our work, we start looking for that reciprocation to come in the form of money. Money…just a symbol for energy exchange. But the phrase Starving Artist exists for a reason. In our world, cash has a big hold on how things run. I was frustrated. My commitment to my arts, music and sharing spirituality, had left me in a place of struggle. I felt let down, undervalued, and I was questioning my ability to persevere and continue to pour outward with a sincere and open heart.
I realized though, without downplaying my very real need for material security, that I was looking in the wrong place for the inward flow of reciprocity. And of course – I have tremendous gratitude for the privilege of connecting with students and audience members. But appreciation or admiration have never been reasons behind my choosing to do what I do. I play music because I have to. I have the skill and the music deserves to be played, shared, and passed on. I teach yoga because the Spirit longs to be shared and can be translated through my humble human self, and I have begun to learn the language to express it through the wisdom and guidance of my teachers.
And so, I had forgotten. When I was seeking reciprocity, I had forgotten why I had chosen the path of a musician and yogi. It has never been for money, it has never been for fame. It certainly has never been for others, and I might even say it has never been for myself. These things have chosen me, and I feel they are my dharma. Music and yoga are the forms through which my connection to Spirit – and by Spirit I mean God – decided to come to me in this human life of mine. I was reminded of this when I remembered Hanuman’s pure devotion to Sita and Ram. Hanuman’s dharma and connection to God was through service to others. His heart was pure and he expected nothing in return.
I remembered devotion. Grasping to feel valued in a concrete way was staining the love I have for my creative processes and allowing a bitterness to creep in. The path of devotion brings freedom. Freedom to express without weighing out why and if it is “worth it.” I recognized my ego in these questions. And this doesn’t have to mean self-sacrificing or martyrdom, but rather a shift in perspective of the circle of reciprocity. I remembered that through devotion to my path, I can live out my dharma, which is to serve as a channel to share music and Spirit with others. I believe that through living out my dharma, the circle of energy exchange will become complete. There is a huge amount of faith at play. It can be scary and hard to trust that through commitment to devotion itself that I will be taken care of and that I will be secure. But for now at least, Hanuman’s example of devotion will keep me going. Devotion will fuel my discipline, and my courage to remain open to share my heart.
Many of us have heard the following quote:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman
I might add, ask what makes your heart open, and devote to it with abandon. Then trust that this leap of faith to follow your dharma will bring you all you’ve ever desired.
I am you and you are me. So Hum. Namaste.