Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

1. Applying blush
The right way of applying blush is an important lesson to know. You start by finding the right color for you. You can do this by lightly hitting or “spanking” your cheeks, which will show you the same color you’d be if you were flushed from exercise. This is the color that you want. Now to apply it, use a brush that you don’t use for anything else, look in the mirror and smile to see where the apples of your cheeks are, and start brushing in a stroke form on the apples of your cheeks. Yes! You’re looking fabulous already.

2. Self defense moves
The knowledge of self-defense could mean the difference between life and death. Every woman should know how to protect herself effectively against attackers, rapists, or anyone else trying to do you harm. All you have to do is S.I.N.G. If you’ve ever seen the film Miss Congeniality, you may know what I’m talking about. S.I.N.G. stands for Solar Plexus, Instep, Nose, and Groin. Targeting any of these sensitive spots on the body will help hurt and eventually distract your attacker, giving you time to run away. Another helpful move is gouging of the eyes. Also, a hard punch, or elbow to the throat or side of the neck will cause the criminal to faint or lose consciousness for at least a moment. Just remember your goal is to get away safely, do it any way possible.

3. Letting him down easy
We’ve all heard the line “it’s not you, it’s me,” before. I have some better tips on how to call off your relationship. First of all you need to get your point across clearly. Don’t beat around the bush, be honest (but nice) and say that it just isn’t working out for you. Do not lie or make up some crazy story, again, honesty is key. Always, always, always break up with your boyfriend in person. How would you feel after being dumped on the phone, or even worse through a text message? Above all, remember to be polite but precise about your feelings.

4. Dealing with cramps
It’s that time of the month again and what presents do we get besides bloating and crankiness? Woman’s worst enemy: cramps. Luckily, there’s a few ways that us girls can cope with this pain, besides taking Midol, that is. Some things to try are a heating pad or hot water bottle on your stomach to help relax the muscles, mild exercise; such as walking or riding a bike, avoiding caffeine and alcohol; which just aggravates symptoms, and drinking a great amount of water.

5. Accessories
The number one rule for accessories that every woman should know is that less is more. You can wear statement earrings or a statement necklace, but not both. Your accessories should compliment the outfit and the color scheme of the outfit. To add a pop of color to a neutral outfit, try a colorful bag, pair of shoes, or scarf. Just remember not to go overboard on accessories.

6. Changing your own tire
Okay ladies, we can do this! It’s actually a very simple process. First of all and probably most obvious; make sure that your parking break is on and that the car will not roll. After you’ve completed that, get out your jack and find out where to place it. To find out this information you can look in your owner’s manual or on some cars there’s a mark behind the front wheel wells or in front of the rear wheel wells as to where to put it. Now, raise the jack so it is supporting the car. Remove the hubcap and unscrew and remove the lug nuts doing one then the one opposite of it until all are removed. Now you can remove the flat tire. Put the new tire onto the wheel studs with the air valve facing out. After that you can replace the lug nuts in the same pattern that you took them off (make sure they’re tight!). Put the hubcap back on and lower the jack. You’re finished! See, wasn’t that easy?

7. Finding the right bra size
Did you know that most women wear the wrong bra size? It’s very easy to find your right size. To start, wear a comfortable bra without padding. Take the measuring tape and measure around your chest right underneath your breasts. This measurement is your band size (if it’s an odd number then add 1″). Next, measure around your breasts at the fullest part. Take that number and subtract it from your band size. Every inch is a cup. For example, if the difference is 1″ then you are an A cup, 2″ is a B cup, 3″ is a C cup, and 4″ would be a D cup.

8. Bouncing back from a bad breakup
Getting dumped is never a good feeling. To get over him you need to start by not thinking about him. Don’t talk to him for now. Even if you would really like to, just don’t do it. Take anything that reminds you of him and put it away in a box in the closet. Out of sight, out of mind, they say. Now, you need to distract yourself. Go out and have fun. Do things that you’ve always wanted to try. Mix and mingle. Who knows, you might even meet a new guy. If after all this you’re still very upset about the break-up, then talk to a close friend and get everything off your chest, letting it out feels good and works wonders on emotions. Last, but not least, move on. Realize that if he doesn’t want to be with you the two of you may be not meant for each other. There’s plenty of fish in this sea we call the world. Get out there and find a guy who will treat you right!

9. Telling if he’s boyfriend material
Some women have a hard time spotting a loser. He may seem like a 10 at first, but then he slowly let’s the low-life creep out of him. First of all, is he gentlemanly? Being gentlemanly would include being polite to you, of course, and everyone else. If he’s nice to you but extremely rude to a waiter or server at a restaurant he may just be a mean guy and will show you that side of him eventually. What do you two chat about? A real gentleman is interested in you and your interests, not talking about himself the whole time. How about the check, does he expect you to pay? A courteous man would offer to pay, unless you already agreed to split the bill, making you pay is a definite sign of a loser. You can tell right off the bat if he’s a loser by the way he treats his mother or sister. Bad-mouthing them or being a jerk to them on the phone is probably your cue to leave. Dump that zero and find a hero.

10. Sunscreen is your best friend
Ah, the magical powers of sunscreen. Not only does it protect against skin cancer, but it also helps anti-aging. Applying sunscreen every single day is what will help you have the beautiful young skin you want, forever. Doctors recommend wearing sunscreen every single day, even if it’s not so sunny out. Those nasty UV rays still get through, rain or shine.

11. Staying safe online
Today, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, it’s very easy to slip up and give away some precious information. Posting information, such as your address, where you are, or when you aren’t going to be home, can be remarkably dangerous. Posting your status on Myspace as “In Hawaii until Thursday!” is actually saying, “Come rob my house! I’m not home!” Be smart about what you say and what details you give on the web. Make your web page private and so only people you know can see what you post. If it’s not private always ask yourself, would I tell this to a complete stranger?

12. Staying happy at your job
If you’re at a job that used to seem great, but has long since lost it’s appeal and there’s no other job opportunities out there, then make the best of it. Try being more social. Forming relationships at work will make you look forward to seeing your co-workers and give you a better working environment. Speaking of environment, what’s your work space like? Make it cozier by adding a few of your own touches, like a photograph or a plant. Maybe the problem at your job is that you’re not being challenged enough. Ask your boss for more or different work to do, this may help stimulate your brain causing you to be more entertained. Also, allow yourself a little bit of free time. Check your email or IM a friend for 15 minutes a day in between working.

13. Fighting that hangover
So your drinking got a little out of hand last night. You don’t know much except you luckily ended up in your own bed. What you do know is now you have a pounding headache and feel extremely queasy. What do you do now? Start by calling in sick, nobody will question you if you say that you have the flu. Now, drink up. Alcohol makes you dehydrated so avoid caffeine, which will add to the dehydration, stick to large amounts of water and juice. Eat light foods (if you can eat at all), such as crackers. Go back to sleep then repeat.

14. Acing the interview for your dream job
It’s the job of your dreams and you’re nervous about the interview. Well, don’t worry, I have your back. Make sure you start your day off well; get a good nights sleep, eat a healthy, but filling, breakfast, and get up on time. Research about the company or business that you are trying to work for, the interviewer will be impressed that you did your homework. Stay confident. Confidence can make a huge difference; your future boss will be able to tell that you are confident in yourself and your abilities. Be professional, dress the part and always be polite. Most of all, be yourself.

15. Planing the perfect party
Throwing the perfect bash is hard work, but very worth it in the end. Plan early so you will be sure that you have enough time for all the preparations. Some things to think about include; what kind of party, the invitations, who to invite, where it will take place, where your guests will park, the hors d’oeuvres, the beverages, the seating, the atmosphere and lighting of the venue, coffee for later, and of course all of the little details. If all of this is overwhelming try having a friend help you out.

16. Falling asleep without counting sheep
There are those nights when you just cannot fall asleep. Well I’ll tell you what you can do to help with this problem, sheep free. Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps you to fall asleep right on time every night. Not eating or exercising can be beneficial also; both of which keep you awake longer. Some people say reading a book helps them doze off. If you have a lot on your mind and can’t seem to sleep, try writing down your thoughts. Knowing that you won’t forget in the morning can put you at ease and let you catch some Z’s.

17. Flirting
Some women just don’t have “game” when it comes to flirting with men. You have to let a guy know that you’re into him if you ever want him to make a move. To do this, be calm and laid back, nobody likes someone who tries too hard. Break the touch barrier by lightly touching his arm when you laugh at his joke or picking some lint off of his shirt. Compliments really work wonderfully. Make sure they are sincere ones, though. Make eye contact and hold it for longer than you normally would, he’ll know something’s up.
Talk about his interests, try to get to know him, he’ll know that you are interested.

18. Managing time
Time management is definitely a life-saving skill to know. Planning ahead is the most important thing that you could do. Second most important, would have to be prioritizing. Decide what you need to do in which order, what has to be done by when and what can you hold off on? Set goals for yourself, this will help you stay on task because you’ll want to accomplish them. Organizing your environment and keeping a planner will also help you manage your time.

19. CPR
Be a hero, know your CPR. To start, check the person for breathing, by tilting their head back. If there is no breathing then you start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Plug their nose and cover their mouth with yours and breath 2 breaths into them, each breath being about 1 second long. Now look for responsiveness; breathing, coughing, or moving should occur, if not, start chest compressions. Place your hands in the middle of the person’s nipples and pump your hands up and down 1 ½ inches to 2 inches with each pump being less than 1 second. Do this 30 times. Repeat both steps until help arrives.

20. Putting on a condom on your partner
A very important lesson: putting on a condom. It can save you from sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. First of all obtain a condom; from the store, a doctor’s office, or a clinic, like Planned Parenthood (they’ll give you a ton for free!). Now to put it on your partner, just place the condom on the head of the penis, holding the tip of the condom with your fingers, and roll it up all the way. Voila! You’re on your way to safe sex.

21. Complimenting someone
Not only do compliments make the person you’re giving them to happy, but they make you happy too. Compliments are like giving a gift for no reason, which always a great experience. To compliment someone be sure to stay sincere. Be specific with your compliment, a certain piece of jewelry that you like is better than an all over compliment, it will show that you actually noticed them. To make a compliment really strong add why you like it, for example, I like that shirt, the color really brings out your eyes.

22. Preventing heart disease
Heart disease is the number one killer of woman in the United States. Luckily there are many ways to prevent it. Tobacco and stress contribute massively to heart disease so try your best to stay smoke-free and de-stressed. Having a good diet will help too, you are more likely to have heart disease if you have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or are obese. And, of course being active is a great help to prevent many diseases including heart disease.

23. Detecting if someone is lying
Knowing when someone is lying is extremely helpful. Look at their body language, it can tell you a lot. Are they making eye contact? If not, that’s a bad sign. Are their hands touching their face, throat, or mouth? Do their actions and gestures match their emotions and expressions (such as frowning when saying something happy, or saying that they love a gift but smiling after saying it, like it was planned)? If no to those two questions, then you’ve got a liar on your hands.

24. Washing your face every night before going to sleep
The best advice my mom ever gave me was wash your face every single night before going to sleep. Leaving the days makeup and oil on your face will clog pores causing breakouts and nobody wants that. Always remember to wash up!

25. Self breast exam
Spotting breast cancer early on can save your life. You always do a self-breast exam lying down. When checking your right breast, place your right palm under your head and use the left hand to check. Use the pads of your three middle fingers and go in a circle motion overlapping to check for bumps. You’ll need to use different types of pressure; light for the tissue closest to the skin, a mild pressure for deeper, and firm pressure to feel the tissue closet to the chest and ribs. To make sure you check the whole breast, go in a line down the breast then a line right next to that line and so on. Repeat on right side. Call your doctor immediately if you find anything.

Original Source: http://smaknews.com/Need-to-Know/25-life-saving-tips-every-woman-should-…

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Finding the answers starts with posing the right questions—and Martha Beck has 20 to get you started.

By Martha Beck
O, The Oprah Magazine |  January 18, 2011


If you’re like most people, you became obsessed with questions around the age of 2 or 3, and scientists now know that continuing to ask them can help keep your mind nimble however old you eventually become. So when someone suggested I put together a list of the 20 most important questions we should all be asking ourselves, I was thrilled. Initially. Then I became confused about which questions to ask, because of course, as I soon realized, context is everything. In terms of saving your life, the key question is, "Did I remember to fasten my seat belt?" In terms of saving money, "How much do I need to retire before I’m 90?" is a strong contender. If daily usefulness is the point, "What’ll I wear?" and "What should I eat first?" might lead the list. And for the philosophically minded, "To be or not to be?" really is the question.

Because I’m far too psychologically fragile to make sense of this subjective morass, I made the bold decision to pass the buck. The 20 questions that follow are based on "crowdsourcing," meaning I asked a whole mess of actual, free-range women what they thought every woman should ask herself. Thanks to all of you who sent in entries via social media. The questions included here are composites of those that were suggested most often, though I’ve mushed them together and rephrased some for brevity. Asking them today could redirect your life. Answering them every day will transform it.

1. What questions should I be asking myself?
At first I thought asking yourself what you should be asking yourself was redundant. It isn’t. Without this question, you wouldn’t ask any others, so it gets top billing. It creates an alert, thoughtful mind state, ideal for ferreting out the information you most need in every situation. Ask it frequently.

2. Is this what I want to be doing?
This very moment is, always, the only moment in which you can make changes. Knowing which changes are best for you comes, always, from assessing what you feel. Ask yourself many times every day if you like what you’re doing. If the answer is no, start noticing what you’d prefer. Thus begins the revolution.
3. Why worry?

These two words, considered sincerely, can radically reconfigure the landscape of your mind. Worry rarely leads to positive action; it’s just painful, useless fear about hypothetical events, which scuttles happiness rather than ensuring it. Some psychologists say that by focusing on gratitude, we can shut down the part of the brain that worries. It actually works!

4. Why do I like {cupcakes} more than I like {people}?
Feel free to switch out the words in brackets: You may like TV more than exercise, or bad boys more than nice guys, or burglary more than reading. Whatever the particulars, every woman has something she likes more than the somethings she’s supposed to like. But forcing "virtues"—trying to like people more than cupcakes—drives us to vices that offer false freedom from oppression. Stop trying to like the things you don’t like, and many vices will disappear on their own.

5. How do I want the world to be different because I lived in it?
Your existence is already a factor in world history—now, what sort of factor do you want it to be? Maybe you know you’re here to create worldwide prosperity, a beautiful family, or one really excellent bagel. If your impressions are more vague, keep asking this question. Eventually you’ll glimpse clearer outlines of your destiny. Live by design, not by accident.

6. How do I want to be different because I lived in this world?
In small ways or large, your life will change the world—and in small ways or large, the world will change you. What experiences do you want to have during your brief sojourn here? Make a list. Make a vision board. Make a promise. This won’t control your future, but it will shape it.

7. Are {vegans} better people?
Again, it doesn’t have to be vegans; the brackets are for you to fill in. Substitute the virtue squad that makes you feel worst about yourself, the one you’ll never have the discipline to join, whether it’s ultra-marathoners or mothers who never raise their voices. Whatever group you’re asking about, the answer to this question is no.

8. What is my body telling me?
As I often say, my mind is a two-bit whore—by which I mean that my self-justifying brain, like any self-justifying brain, will happily absorb beliefs based on biases, ego gratification, magical thinking, or just plain error. The body knows better. It’s a wise, capable creature. It recoils from what’s bad for us, and leans into what’s good. Let it.

9. How much junk could a chic chick chuck if a chic chick could chuck junk?
I believe this question was originally posed by Lao Tzu, who also wrote, "To become learned, each day add something. To become enlightened, each day drop something." Face it: You’d be better off without some of your relationships, many of your possessions, and most of your thoughts. Chuck your chic-chick junk, chic chick. Enlightenment awaits.

10. What’s so funny?
Adults tend to put this question to children in a homicidal-sounding snarl, which is probably why as you grew up, your laughter rate dropped from 400 times a day (for toddlers) to the grown-up daily average of 15. Regain your youth by laughing at every possible situation. Then, please, tell us what’s funny—about everyday life, about human nature, even about pain and fear. We’ll pay you anything

11. Where am I wrong?
This might well be the most powerful question on our list—as Socrates believed, we gain our first measure of intelligence when we first admit our own ignorance. Your ego wants you to avoid noticing where you may have bad information or unworkable ideas. But you’ll gain far more capability and respect by asking where you’re wrong than by insisting you’re right.

12. What potential memories am I bartering, and is the profit worth the price?
I once read a story about a world where people sold memories the way we can sell plasma. The protagonist was an addict who’d pawned many memories for drugs but had sworn never to sell his memory of falling in love. His addiction won. Afterward he was unaware of his loss, lacking the memory he’d sold. But for the reader, the trade-off was ghastly to contemplate. Every time you choose social acceptance over your heart’s desires, or financial gain over ethics, or your comfort zone over the adventure you were born to experience, you’re making a similar deal. Don’t.

13. Am I the only one struggling not to {fart} during {yoga}?
I felt profoundly liberated when this issue was raised on Saturday Night Live’s "Weekend Update." Not everyone does yoga, but SNL reminded me that everyone dreads committing some sort of gaffe. Substitute your greatest shame-fear: crying at work, belching in church, throwing up on the prime minister of Japan. Then know you aren’t alone. Everyone worries about such faux pas, and many have committed them (well, maybe not the throwing up on PMs). Accepting this is a bold step toward mental health and a just society.

14. What do I love to practice?
Some psychologists believe that no one is born with any particular talent and that all skill is gained through practice. Studies have shown that masters are simply people who’ve practiced a skill intensely for 10,000 hours or more. That requires loving—not liking, loving—what you do. If you really want to excel, go where you’re passionate enough to practice.

15. Where could I work less and achieve more?
To maximize time spent practicing your passions, minimize everything else. These days you can find machines or human helpers to assist with almost anything. Author Timothy Ferriss "batches" job tasks into his famous "four-hour workweek." My client Cindy has an e-mail ghostwriter. Another client, Angela, hired an assistant in the Philippines who flawlessly tracks her schedule and her investments. Get creative with available resources to find more time in your life and life in your time.

16. How can I keep myself absolutely safe?
Ask this question just to remind yourself of the answer: You can’t. Life is inherently uncertain. The way to cope with that reality is not to control and avoid your way into a rigid little demi-life, but to develop courage. Doing what you long to do, despite fear, will accomplish this.

17. Where should I break the rules?
If everyone kept all the rules, we’d still be practicing cherished traditions like child marriage, slavery, and public hangings. The way humans become humane is by assessing from the heart, rather than the rule book, where the justice of a situation lies. Sometimes you have to break the rules around you to keep the rules within you.

18. So say I lived in that fabulous house in Tuscany, with untold wealth, a gorgeous, adoring mate, and a full staff of servants…then what?
We can get so obsessed with acquiring fabulous lives that we forget to live. When my clients ask themselves this question, they almost always discover that their "perfect life" pastimes are already available. Sharing joy with loved ones, spending time in nature, finding inner peace, writing your novel, plotting revenge—you can do all these things right now. Begin!

19. Are my thoughts hurting or healing?
Your situation may endanger your life and limbs, but only your thoughts can endanger your happiness. Telling yourself a miserable mental story about your circumstances creates suffering. Telling yourself a more positive and grateful story, studies show, increases happiness. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, choose thoughts that knit your heart together, rather than tear it apart.

20. Really truly: Is this what I want to be doing?
It’s been several seconds since you asked this. Ask it again. Not to make yourself petulant or frustrated—just to see if it’s possible to choose anything, and I mean any little thing, that would make your present experience more delightful. Thus continues the revolution.


source: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Martha-Becks-20-Questions-That-Could-Change-Your-Life_1/1

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Seek balance and happiness each day this year as you set your sights on yoga’s four aims of life.

By Hillari Dowdle

The new year is the traditional time to stop and ask yourself an important question: Am I leading a well-balanced life? It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, in setting goals that relate to how you think you want to look, or act, or be in this world. But consider bypassing all the particulars—the numbers on the scale, the bank account balance, the starting or stopping of habits—in favor of a deeper approach that can reshape your whole life in a positive way.

The yoga tradition offers a paradigm for such deep self-examination: the purusharthas,, or four aims of life. They are dharma (duty, ethics), artha (prosperity, wealth), kama (pleasure, sensual gratification), and moksha (the pursuit of liberation). The purusharthas are the blueprint for human fulfillment, signposts that point us to a successful, satisfying, balanced existence in the world. Working with them can help you create a satisfyingly balanced life at the deepest and most holistic level.

"We all have a desire for a meaningful life. The purusharthas are the means that can help us achieve it," says ParaYoga founder Rod Stryker, who is working on a book about the purusharthas that’s called The Four Desires. "They are, in a larger sense, what practice is really all about," he says, adding that the purusharthas offer a yogic perspective on how to engage skillfully in the world.

Cosmic Clues

The purusharthas are elaborated upon extensively in the Mahabharata, the epic Indian poem that contains The Bhagavad Gita, and are interwoven with yogic philosophy at the deepest levels. But they have their roots in the Rig Veda, the most ancient and revered of Hindu scriptures. "What the Rig Veda suggests is that the purusharthas are the inherent values of the universe," explains Douglas Brooks, a Tantric scholar and professor of religious studies at the University of Rochester. "The cosmos is considered a living being, and the issues of law, prosperity, desire, and freedom belong to it. These are not just human concerns or psychological concepts. When we engage them as human beings, we are aligning the microcosm with the macrocosm. The cosmos is all laid out for you; your job is to get with the program."

To fully grasp the purusharthas, Stryker says, it pays to parse the meaning of the word itself. Purusha means, roughly, "soul"—the essential Self that is unchanging, that isn’t born and doesn’t die, but belongs to the universe. Artha means "the ability" or "for the purpose of." Taken together, Stryker explains, purushartha means "for the purpose of the soul," and the very concept asks that you take the broadest view of your life. Are you managing the day-to-day in such a way as to support your inner work?

Each one of the purusharthas has many scriptures dedicated to it (the Kama Sutra, the Dharma Shastras, and the Artha Shastras, among others). To truly understand all four would require a lifetime of study. Still, learning the fundamentals is useful, especially to the contemporary practitioner who’s simply looking to find more joy and meaning in life.

Here, we provide a guide for working with the four aimsdharma, artha, kama, and moksha. Once you have an understanding of the individual components of each of the purusharthas, you can assess the role they play in your life by contemplating the questions related to each one. You can then begin to analyze how well balanced they are in your life.

"The purusharthas are a sophisticated way of living in balance," says spiritual teacher and Yoga Journal columnist Sally Kempton. "But they demand reflection. You have to constantly ask yourself, Which of these areas am I emphasizing too much? Am I having a good time but not being as ethical as I could be? Am I a great yogi but haven’t yet figured out how to make a living? Am I incredibly ethical but still at the mercy of every passing feeling or thought? Am I so rigid in my practice that if I can’t do 90 minutes, my day is ruined? Anything you don’t deal with will come back to bite you later."

Put simply, the purusharthas can offer a way for evaluating your life, making good decisions, and contemplating pragmatic dilemmas—like whether to spend time with your young child, or go back to work to save for her college education—in a way that honors the highest ideals of life. "At the end of your life, you will ask yourself, ‘Did I live this life well?’" Kempton suggests. "And in my view, you will feel good about it to the degree that you balanced the purusharthas."

Dharma: duty

Let’s just say it up front: dharma is a big word. It’s translated to mean "duty," "ethics," "righteousness," "work," "law," "truth," "responsibility," and even the spiritual teachings related to all the above (as in the Buddha dharma or the Hindu dharma). The meaning of the word is synonymous with your very purpose in life—with having the strength to get up each day and do what needs to be done.

"The easiest way to define dharma is to look at the verbal root, which really means ‘to make firm,’ ‘to establish,’ or ‘to create structure,’" Brooks explains. "It’s about that which gives life order—about stepping up to your own responsibilities, about working within the structure to serve yourself and society." There is a universal dharma, known as sanatana dharma, which is thought to underlie the very structure of existence. It is the source of the fundamental ideas of right and wrong that are deeply embedded in human consciousness. But along with that universal order, we each have our own unique, individual dharma, or svadharma, the result of our birth circumstances, karma, and talents, and the choices we make in life as it unfolds for us.

"Dharma [refers to] the actions that you are engaged in, in this life, and there are many different levels," says Gary Kraftsow, Viniyoga founder and the author of the book Yoga for Transformation. "As a father, my dharma is to raise up my son. As a yoga teacher, my dharma is to show up to class, to give interviews, and to transmit these teachings. As an American, part of my dharma is to pay my taxes. Whatever you are doing, your dharma is to do it well, to serve yourself and serve life in the present moment, to keep moving forward toward a sense of personal fulfillment."

For some, our dharmas reflect a clear calling: farmer, teacher, activist, parent, poet, president. For others, not so much. But you don’t need to have a calling to have dharma, Kraftsow says. Dharma means sustaining your life, meeting your family obligations, participating in society—and sometimes even a low-level McJob can enable you to do all that. "If you hate your job so much that it’s sucking the life out of you, it may not be dharmic for you," he says. "But realizing your dharma sometimes means accepting where you are."

Still, dharma can be a moving target, especially here in the West, where—in our ideal world, at least7mdash;we’re not bound by caste, family, gender, or racial roles (those, too, are forms of dharma). "Dharma is a relative concept," says Anusara Yoga founder John Friend. "It’s tricky—ask a Tantric philosopher whether a specific action is dharmic, and the answer is always ‘Well, it depends.’ I like to think of it this way: Given all of the variables, what is it that best serves both you and the greater good? Dharma is ultimately about enhancing life."

And it generally involves honoring your ethics—doing right by yourself, your family, your community, the world. "For Westerners, dharma is the ethical basis on which you live your life," Kempton says. "It’s your bottom line. I like to translate it as ‘the path of the good.’" Your dharma should govern your every action and decision in life, Kempton says. To understand your own dharma, and to measure how well you’re living up to your ideal, she suggests that you ask yourself a few key questions: What is my role in the world? What are my obligations? Which ones feel right? When I am serving the highest good, what am I doing? Am I on a path for the good? How can I best serve the world around me? What would Martin Luther King do? (This is Kempton’s personal favorite—though you could substitute your grandmother, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or anyone else you consider a paragon of dharmic living.)

Artha: prosperity

For the purposes of this article, it makes sense to define the word dharma first—in some ways, all of the other purusharthas should be viewed through the lens of dharma. Certainly, this is true of artha, which is defined as "material prosperity," "wealth," "abundance," and "success." Artha is the material comfort you need to live in the world with ease. Moreover, artha is the stuff—the capital, the computer, the business suit—you need to get your dharma done. Artha is, simply put, that which supports your life’s mission.

Many philosophers would put artha first on their list of purusharthas, for a simple reason: "If you don’t have enough food to eat, you don’t have a place to eat, or you don’t feel safe, forget the other three," Friend says. "Artha sets a basic level of material comfort and resources so that you can facilitate all of your intentions in life." Artha refers to things—your apartment, your car, your pots and pans. For a writer, the essential artha is pen and paper; for a yoga practitioner, artha is time and space for uninterrupted practice. It can also mean the knowledge, understanding, or education you need to get along in the world—something you certainly need to pursue the dharma of a doctor, for instance. It also means good health. And, of course, it means money.

Like dharma, artha can be a moving target—especially here in the West, where lifestyles vary from ascetic to excessive. "When I used to teach the purusharthas, artha meant food, clothing, and shelter," Kraftsow says. "Now it means food, clothing, shelter, a cell phone, and Internet access." That’s a little joke, of course, but it also points to a fundamental truth: What you need depends on who you are. "What artha means for a beggar is the begging bowl; what it means for a business executive in Los Angeles is driving a Lexus," Kraftsow explains. "If you’re doing a business deal, it means looking the part—you might need a nice suit or a good watch to look professional. The yoga community shouldn’t get the message that you can’t have a nice car or a watch. You might need those things to play your role." Just don’t get carried away by the notion that artha is everything, or that more is always better—easy traps to fall into in a culture like ours, which tends to measure success in terms of material gain only. Brooks says that a perceptual shift may be needed to deal skillfully with artha. "Wealth is not a bad thing7mdash;and there is no zero-sum game," he says. "What artha asks us to do is learn to live skillfully in a world of material objects that exist for our benefit. It’s not about rejecting the world, but about figuring out how to be content with the things you own, borrow, or steward. And it requires that you ask yourself: What do I see as truly valuable?"

Brooks asserts that we are not human without artha; Kempton agrees. "Artha is the skills we develop to live a successful worldly life," she says. "I’ve found that if human beings don’t get artha together in one way or another, they feel bad about themselves. Artha is one of the basic human dignities—to have enough money to live on, to care for your family." To learn to work skillfully with artha in your own life, try asking yourself the following questions: Knowing my dharma, what do I need to play my role in the world? Where do I place value? Do I have enough? Are my things making me happy, or are they stealing my joy? Am I afraid of having more? Am I afraid of not having more? What does wealth mean to me besides money?

Kama: pleasure

According to Rod Stryker, kama, or the desire for pleasure, is what makes the world go ’round. "Desire for pleasure is what drives all human behavior," he says. "Kama relates to pleasure, and that can be sensuality," he says. "But it’s also art, beauty, intimacy, fellowship, and kindness—it’s what brings a sense of delight to our lives. And there can be pleasure even in sacrifice." Kama gets some bad press, Stryker notes, possibly because it’s the purushartha most likely to run amok. Excessive kama can lead to overindulgence, addiction, sloth, greed, and a whole host of other "deadly sins." But it is good, and indeed necessary, when it exists to support dharma. "If we set kama in the context of dharma, we understand it to be a part of the richness of life," Stryker says. "Every accomplishment has been sought for the pleasure that it provides. We live in service to a higher purpose, but along that path there is the pleasure we take from family and friends, art, love, and harmony in the world around us." Brooks agrees, saying that, whether we deal with it skillfully or not, there is no life without kama.

Shining the light of awareness on your desires can help you focus on the ones that honor the true essence of life. "The conscious pursuit of kama is a profound yogic practice," Kempton says. "To practice kama yogically means to practice being fully present with whatever you’re experiencing. There are many levels of pleasure, from eating a pizza to finding a meditation practice that allows your heart to expand. As a yogi, you learn to distinguish. You know which pleasures are saturated with god consciousness and are drenched in the ecstasies of the soul, and which ones leave you depleted or lying to yourself about what is really going on." Brooks notes that focusing on the right kinds of pleasure can lead you toward your dharma—and help you fulfill it with passion. "Passion is never the problem," he says. "Passion is the solution." Find your own solution by inquiring deeply about your own pursuit of pleasure. Ask yourself these key questions: What am I passionate about? What brings me pleasure? Am I enjoying my life? Am I happy? What do I care about? What do I most desire? Am I hooked on anything? Are my pleasures leading me toward or away from my life’s purpose?

Moksha: freedom

Moksha, or liberation, is widely considered to be the pinnacle of the purusharthas. "The whole game is that you want to be free," explains John Friend. "You want ‘freedom from’ and’freedom to.’ Freedom from suffering and from that which is blocking you from realizing your own power and connection to life. And you want freedom to express your own creativity as fully as possible, freedom to live fully and be happy." In its broadest, biggest, and most grand and elevated sense, moksha means achieving nirvana, or the complete liberation from the cycle of incarnation. "Moksha is about getting off the wheel of samsara [the cycle of suffering caused by birth, death, and rebirth]," Kempton explains. "You can be a good person who is living a dharmic life, taking care of yourself and your family, enjoying your family life and your career, but all of that will be ultimately unsatisfying unless you are also doing the practices that can lead to moksha."

But moksha doesn’t have to be some other place and time or some exalted state to be reached, irrevocably, only once and to the exclusion of the human experience. "The question with moksha is whether it is a goal, or whether it is your nature," Brooks says. "In other words, do you become free, or are you born free? One view is that moksha is a kind of otherworld-liness&msdash;that it’s the opposite of dharma. The other argument is that freedom is your nature, that it’s here and now. Every time you look into your baby’s eyes, you get a hit of moksha. You don’t feel confined by that responsibility of being a parent; you feel that it offers you the deepest sense of your own freedom and choice." Simply taking time to remember your own inherent freedom, in other words, gives meaning to your dharma—and everything you do in life. Practicing yoga, in a very real sense, is practicing moksha. "You are as free as you experience yourself to be," Brooks notes. "Consider the idea that it is because you are so free that you have to bind yourself. What do you choose to commit to?" And that is a question of dharma.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when assessing the role moksha is playing in your life: What am I doing to free myself from activities and perceptions that make me unhappy? How can I not get caught in my emotions? What do I choose to bind myself to? Do I feel trapped? Can I be free from blaming myself and others? How can I make my mind free?

Balancing Act

The key to working with the purusharthas paradigm is to constantly examine not only the essential concepts and their role in your life, but also how well balanced they are. Are you working so hard to put your kids through school that your life feels like an endless grind? (That’s too much dharma, not enough kama.) Are you so trapped in pleasure that you’re neglecting your duty to your friends and family? (Too much kama, not enough dharma.) Have you become so focused on making money that you have no time to meditate? (Too much artha, not enough moksha.) Are you spending so much time getting blissed out at the yoga studio that you can’t swing this month’s rent? (Too much moksha, not enough artha.) The balance between them will constantly shift—by stage of life, by month, by week, even by the minute. A young mother, for instance, will naturally emphasize the dharma of raising her children, and her artha will be about providing for it. An elderly man facing the end of life will turn toward moksha, ready to leave artha and dharma behind. A business executive entering contract negotiations will focus on artha and dharma; a college student on summer break will indulge in more kama. All that is as it should be. The work of balance isn’t literal—it’s an effort to face the world with all of your pieces intact, to live in a conscious way that leaves no part of your Self behind.

That work, of course, starts on the yoga mat. "Yoga is virtuosity in being human," Brooks concludes. "The purusharthas tell us that we must meditate on our roles in the world, our values, relationships, and passions. These are not concerns to cure, extinguish, or transcend. They are simply part of being human, and embracing them is loving life."

Fine-tune your life

The four aims are the pillars of a fulfilling life. In the following self-inquiry practice by Sally Kempton, you’ll consider where your current priorities lie and how you need to shift them to create a deeply satisfying life. Don’t worry about getting your whole life in order at once—do the exercise each week, and you’ll become more in tune with yourself, more present with the world around you.Here’s how: Find 30 minutes in which you can be alone and undisturbed. Create a cozy space, and settle into it with a journal, a pen, a candle, and a comfortable seat (a meditation cushion or a chair).

Light the candle to signify that you are in a sacred space. "A candle symbolizes the flame of the inner witness," Kempton says. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, and relax for a few minutes.

Begin to think back over your activities of the preceding week. Consider all of the things you did related to your dharma. How did you serve your family, your community, and yourself? What were your obligations? Did you meet them with ease? What ethical tests did you face, and how did you deal with them? Record the answers in your journal.

When you’ve exhausted your thoughts about dharma, consider artha. What did you do this week for the sake of your livelihood? What did you do to maintain your health? What did you need to support yourself? Did you get it? Write the answers in your journal; note your concerns and anxieties.

Next, think deeply about kama. What actions did you take solely for the purpose of creating more joy in your life and in the world? What were your greatest pleasures? What were your strongest desires? Were you able to realize them? Write down your thoughts.

Then, record the activities you engaged in for the sake of moksha. These might include yoga, meditation, prayer, chanting, spiritual reading, or self-inquiry. Did you find a feeling of freedom? Which areas of your life feel constricted or burdened? What do you need to do to liberate yourself? Write down the answers.

When you’ve gone through each purushartha individually, analyze the balance between them. Looking at what you’ve written, see where your emphasis was in the past week. Which parts of your life were unattended to? Are you working too hard in one area? Not hard enough? What are the consequences of your priorities? Formulate a simple statement about the way the purusharthas manifested themselves in your life, something like, "This week, I worked hard to meet my obligations, but I felt burdened. I took the most pleasure from my friendships. I didn’t find time to work toward liberation."

Finally, formulate an intention for the coming week. You might set an intention related to each of the purusharthas, or you could focus on one or two that need more of your attention. Record the intention in your journal. Then say it to yourself—first out loud, then inwardly. Close your journal, blow out the candle, and ease back into your day with a new understanding of your soul’s priorities.

Taking time each week to think about the purusharthas will enable you to see how your life’s priorities are constantly shifting and let you do some troubleshooting whenever unease and unhappiness arise. "Yoga is one of the great tools humans have for recognizing meaning, and the purusharthas let you see whether you are living a good life," Kempton says. "If you are not finding joy in your practice, there is something wrong with your practice. If you aren’t able to operate ethically, you’ll know that changes are needed."

Hillari Dowdle, a former Yoga Journal editor, lives and writes in Knoxville, Tennessee.

source: www.yogajournal.com

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Reconnect with the source of your happiness.

By Nora Isaacs

There are times when you know just what to do, and life seems to rise up and support you and your ideas. And then there are times when it is all a little murky, and you might feel a bit lost. Thankfully, you have your yoga practice to come to—a time to tap into a deep connection with yourself and remember who you really are and what is most important to you. Nothing could be better.

When you bring the spacious awareness you experience in your yoga practice to your whole life, you’ll experience the kind of presence that will make you stop in your tracks, engage your senses, and find joy in daily life. But for most of us, accomplishing that is easier said than done. Often it requires a conscious effort to examine the status quo, push in new directions, and find fresh approaches to evoking that same sense of grounding, connection, and happiness we find on the mat.

Here, then, are 10 possibilities to help you get there. Put these ideas into practice one at a time, or try several at once. You might want to welcome one of them into your life as an offering to the New Year. Whatever approach you choose, here’s to feeling more alive, more present, and more aware of what makes you happy.

1. Get Energized About Your Future

Your yoga practice helps you live in the present, but life in the world demands a certain amount of decision making and planning. What’s your vision of where you want to go and how you’ll get there? When you take a proactive approach, your dreams are more likely to become reality. Knowing what you want is, of course, the first step.

If you need help discovering your life’s path, start by talking it out, says Nancy Wagaman, a life coach in San Diego. You can develop a goal list and create affirmations, she says. You can draw a picture of your future—even pray for guidance. “There are so many ways to energize the new vision you want for your life. The more you energize it, the more you draw that energy to that vision. And the universe tends to support you,” she says.

Of course, your vision may change over time, but the important thing is that you’re an active participant in your future.

HOW TO To find a life coach near you, call (800) 887-7214 or visit findyourcoach.com.

2. Plug Into Your Spiritual Self

Reconnecting with your innermost self can open the doors to an entirely new and unpredictable path. At 33 years old, Susan Nicolas was a yoga teacher living in San Francisco and dating. But her singular focus on meeting a husband and starting a family was causing her heartache. On the advice of friends, she signed up for a vipassana retreat. During 10 days of silence and insight meditation, she came face-to-face with her attachment to getting married and to the unfinished dynamics of past relationships. “Through a lot of struggle and occasional glimpses of true stillness, it seemed the obstacles in my life dissolved,” she says. “I felt more in touch with my true self than I ever had.”

Getting away from routine relationships and environments makes it easier to drop into stillness and examine the undercurrent of your life. Once you do, you can plug into a connection with your divine nature. On retreat, you can also practice accessing your true self so that you can call on it anytime in your life.

A month after her retreat, Nicolas unexpectedly reconnected with an old sweetheart who is now her husband of eight years. “The experience during those sometimes difficult 10 days was like removing a stopper in the mouth of my life,” she says. “Everything simply flowed forth as it should.”

HOW TO Check with a favorite teacher or retreat center for upcoming dates. Even a weekend away that includes meditation, yoga, rest, and silence can be enlightening if you set an intention to retreat.

3. Let Go of the Old

Writing, drawing, doing yoga—there are many pathways to bringing all that’s inside of you out and into the world. For several years, Tiffanie Turner, an architect from San Francisco, felt creatively blocked. As an experiment, Turner began writing three pages in her journal each morning. After a few weeks, she noticed some dramatic changes in her life. “I drop off a lot of baggage in the morning and feel clear for the rest of the day,” she says. Turner found that her anxiety levels decreased, too. “I write down things that worry me in the morning, or a horrible dream that would normally stay with me all day. And when I do, these things pretty much don’t exist for me any more.”

“Once you let go of thoughts that aren’t truly serving you, you’ll feel lighter, more creative,” says Courtney Miller, a yoga teacher in Manhattan, who includes journaling in her yoga workshops. “It’s as if you have more space inside for noticing what makes you happy.”

HOW TO Dust off your journal, commit to a designated time frame each day, and stick to it. If writing isn’t your thing, try drawing your thoughts and feelings.

4. Serve Others

If you haven’t yet noticed, time spent trying to fulfill your desires usually isn’t that fulfilling—even when you achieve or get something that you think you want. But when you turn your attention to the needs of others, you often feel a huge sense of satisfaction. Focusing on other people enables you to be engaged without having to figure out what’s in it for you. And seva (selfless service) can be very empowering, showing you that your actions really do make a difference in the world.

HOW TO You can walk pups at the Humane Society, teach yoga at a community center, or bring your talents to an after-school tutoring program—the possibilities are endless. Many organizations ask for a six-month commitment, though, so it’s important to find something you’re passionate about and have time for. Log on to volunteermatch.org and type in your interests and Zip Code to find a perfect volunteer fit.

5. Honor Your Physical Self

You often hear about spacious awareness in the mind, but it can also be found in your sense of physical self—in the way you move externally, and then process things internally. That’s why San Francisco chiropractor Colin Phipps does a seasonal cleanse about three times a year. He says that the cleanse cultivates awareness by giving him emotional clarity and providing a healthy ritual to follow. “It’s a conscious effort to become much more attuned to my sense of self and where I am in the world,” he says.

HOW TO Elson Haas, an integrative-medicine practitioner and author of The New Detox Diet, recommends a simple winter detox that anyone can follow: For three weeks this winter, base your three meals a day on soups, salads, fruits, and veggies. Drink lots of water and herbal teas, and stay warm. Omit sugar, alcohol, caffeine, wheat, and dairy—and don’t eat between meals. When the seasons change throughout the year, carve out anywhere between 3 and 21 days to repeat some version of the detox. “When you move toward fruits, veggies, and water, you are moving toward things that are less congesting and moving along the pathway to health,” says Haas. Find more detox tips at elsonhaas.com.

6. Be Daring

There’s a lot to be said for having the discipline to stick with a specific style of yoga, getting to know it well, and working through resistance to aspects that you know you don’t like. But exploring a new style of yoga can be revitalizing. Experimentation and play in your practice can teach you to be, err, more “flexible” in all of your life and more aware that there’s always more to learn and explore.

Jay Maldonado, a 29-year-old director of a literacy program who lives in Brooklyn, says her long-term study of one style of yoga left her with a good understanding of alignment but not a lot of spiritual depth. So she pounded the Manhattan pavement looking for something that resonated. She found it at Laughing Lotus, a studio whose philosophy centers on joy and playfulness. “It opened the doors to my creativity and self-expression, and just really enjoying who I am,” she says. “It allowed my yoga practice to become something that’s not so regimented. Instead, it evolves every day.”

Maldonado is also transgendered, and finding a new style helped her greatly during her transition. “As my practice became freer, everything else in my life freed up, and I made the changes I needed to honor myself as a transgendered being,” she says. “When you delve into the scariness of something new, that’s usually the shock that you need to awaken your spiritual practice and passion.”

HOW TO Chant if you normally focus on alignment, or experiment with holding poses for minutes at a time if you’re used to a more flowing practice. For other ideas, go to yogajournal.com/styleguide.

7. Soothe Your Mind

Meditation quiets a busy mind and cultivates a witness who can watch what’s happening in your life with a bit of emotional distance. The benefits are enormous—many meditators say they have more clarity, experience less anxiety, and feel better physically. Most of all, the practice offers an experience of calm and contentment.

Are you willing to commit to meditating every day for 30 days? If so, you might find your whole life transformed. “An agitated mind squanders such an amazing amount of energy,” says Richard Faulds, a senior meditation teacher at Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. “If you can still the surface of the mind, you’ll say ‘Wow! This is who I really am!’ You get a taste of something that’s really quite profound. You will want to sustain it.”

HOW TO Faulds recommends meditating on the breath for 20 minutes each day. To do this, follow his guidelines: Find a comfortable seated position. Bring yourself to the present moment by breathing, relaxing, feeling, watching, and allowing any thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations to come and go. Instead of reacting to those things, simply be aware of them. Deepen the breath. Watch the breath. Let go of all technique and come into effortless being. You can find another Kripalu Yoga guided meditation at yogajournal.com/kripalumed.

8. Notice Your Surroundings

When you’re reassessing life, it’s tempting to spend a lot of time focusing on yourself. But it can be transformative to connect with the world around you, to meet your neighbors, to enjoy the changing of the seasons, to take an interest in what’s happening in your community. Simply being aware of your environs creates a sense of interconnectedness—and suddenly you can’t not care about how your actions affect people and your environment.

One way to feel that connection is to make a commitment to eating seasonal and locally grown foods. “Once people become dedicated seasonal eaters, suddenly they become aware of things like water issues, ranchers’ issues, and political issues in their community,” says Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets. Plus, these foods taste better, do less harm to the environment by reducing resources needed for shipping, and put you in touch with the cycles of nature.

HOW TO Eating seasonally and supporting farmers is as easy and delicious as visiting your local farmers’ market or joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program—a fancy term for a farm that grows and delivers produce near your home. Visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s website (ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/map.htm) and click on your state to locate a local farmers’ market, or check out localharvest.org/csa to find a CSA.

9. Create Community

Karen Habib had been plagued for years by a feeling of emptiness that she couldn’t quite name. Habib, who lives in Manhattan and worked in corporate marketing at that time, craved meaning, community, and a place where she could feel grounded amid the hustle and bustle of New York. So when the opportunity arose for her to move into the Integral Yoga Institute in the West Village, she went for it.

When you live in close quarters with other people, they can certainly press your buttons. But when that happens, Habib thinks of a statement attributed to Integral Yoga founder, Swami Satchidananda: “The stones in a river start out rough, but with the current continually bumping and polishing them, they end up being beautiful.” Since moving into the institute, Habib has gained clarity to pursue a life-long interest in interior design. She has also discovered a renewed sense of vitality, strength, and gratitude. With her yoga community, she now has a sacred center to come home to, daily yoga classes and workshops at her disposal, and a place to meet like-minded yogis she can relate to. “When I walk into the center, I breathe and sit to do pranayama and think, ‘God, am I lucky!'”

HOW TO While you may not choose to move into an ashram, you can find some kind of sangha (community) at your local studio or through a favorite teacher. Many studios offer immersion programs that meet weekly to discuss philosophy, practice asana, chant, and spark renewed vitality, strength, and gratitude for the practices. Or you can organize your own group by inviting friends, posting flyers that give information about the meetings, and hosting yoga meet-ups in your town (visit meetup.com to post events).

10. Make a Nature Date

It’s easy to overlook the most obvious accessible antidote to stress, worry, and busyness: the outdoors. Sense the earth beneath your feet, watch birds soar, feel the wind on your face—these are all reminders that your troubles, and even your joys, need not be all consuming; you are part of something bigger.

Carol Tonelli, a Spanish interpreter living in San Francisco, heads to the ocean for a swim when she wants to reconnect. “There, I can surrender to the water, to the sun, to the flow of life,” she says. Immersing herself in natural beauty, says Tonelli, allows her to release stress and to access a deep sense of serenity that carries her through tougher times.

HOW TO Whether you decide to head for the mountains, streams, or sea, take time out of your schedule to make a nature date once a week. When you’re outdoors, allow your thoughts and concerns to float away like clouds. Stay present to the natural beauty that surrounds you; cultivate a sense of gratitude for the abundance that is right in front of your nose.


Nora Isaacs is a former Yoga Journal editor and author of Women in Overdrive: Find Balance and Overcome Burnout at Any Age (Seal Press).

source: www.yogajournal.com

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Published August 04, 2005

Have you recently gone through some dramatic and transformative changes in your life? Whether these changes are related to your job, relationships, or spirituality, the shift has taken some getting used to and you need something positive to focus on. You enjoy a lot of different pastimes, but you really want to devote yourself to something you simply love doing. How do you find your passion? Perhaps just as important, how do you turn that passion into something meaningful and substantial in your life? Find out now…
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
A passion in life isn’t something you’re born with. It’s cultivated by your interests, what stimulates you and what you are genuinely excited about. But what if you want to pursue many avenues and just don’t know which one you’d be the most successful at or want to invest the most time in? Or what if nothing particularly lights the proverbial fire under your bottom, but you have a lot of energy that you could devote to something? Or maybe you’re stuck in a job you despise, but don’t know what other route to take that would truly be fulfilling.
Don’t fear. We have plenty of ideas to get your creative juices flowing to find your passion and make something worthwhile of it.
Answer these Questions
Answering the following questions is a great exercise in deciding where your passion may lie and what direction to go in. Write down your answers and look for a common theme. Your passion might be so obvious that it jumps right off of the page.
  • What do you love about yourself?
  • What did you want to be when you were a child?
  • If money were no object, what would you want to do?
  • What do you daydream about or think about during downtime?
  • How do others perceive you?
  • List five things you really enjoy doing and five things you’re really good at.
  • Name one thing you’ve always dreamed about doing but never told anyone about.


Look Around
Your passion could be right under your nose, but you just might not be in tune with it. Watch out for signs or for moments that inspire you or move you.
It might come in the form of a movie, a human interest story from a newspaper or neighbor, or a great ending to a great book. Go through your closet or look through old photo albums. You may have simply “stored” away memories of any passions or inspirations you had as a child or before you were married, had children or started in the work force.
Once you’re aware of everything around you, finding your passion might be easier than you originally thought.
You know networking is a great tool to use in job hunting, but it’s also ideal to use to help find your passion and turn that passion into a productive endeavor. Let people in on your passion and dreams: They’ll become more of a reality the more you talk about them, and when an opportunity pops up that relates to that passion, they’ll let you know!
If the passion you’ve discovered has to do with a dream job, keeping the lines of communication open with all sorts of people will only increase your chances of pursuing your passion and achieving a goal.
Get Involved
Getting involved in volunteer projects is a fantastic way to test the passion waters. Start out by volunteering with one group. It can be at a soup kitchen, animal rescue group or reading to children at the library for an hour.
Really begin to feel what it means to do something positive for someone else – many people associate their passion with service. They feel it’s their purpose and their calling. Volunteer where you are drawn to, and then volunteer with something at the opposite end of your passion spectrum.
The more projects you’re able to experience, the more your imagination will be sparked.
Reach for the Stars
Nobody can live your life for you – your destiny is in your hands. If you’ve found your passion, you’re already on your way. If you’ve found a passion that seems a little more intangible than others, give it some serious thought, but don’t be afraid to go for it.
Too many people don’t follow their passion because they let the possibility of failure stop them before they even try. How will you know if things are possible if you don’t put yourself out there? Be proactive, reach for the stars and turn your passion into something productive and meaningful that will enrich your life and the lives of others.

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Published May 10, 2005

Creating sacred, personal spaces to go escape within and pray or reflect upon life can be as simple or intricate as you’d like to make it. The wonderful thing is about creating spirited places for yourself is that such space can be made at home, at the office or anywhere out in the wide world that you choose…
Stress and anxiety seem to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind these days. There is always something that needs to be done or that could be done better. Demands on us to always be “On” can be draining, to say the least. Thus, the need for sacred spaces and personal “Time-Outs” to help find happiness is in higher demand than ever. When the need arises for you to take or make some sacred space, it is possible to go there physically, emotionally or spiritually. Enjoy these suggestions to help you create sacred space for yourself in needed moments:


Headspace: When I am at the office, the greatest tool I have for personal enhancement is my set of headphones. If I need to create inner peace and am unable to leave my desk, I put them on with or without sound. Web radio stations have all kinds of material available – from ambient music to church services and more. Try this option at the office, the next time you feel the need for some serenity.
Find Your Spot: Remember that special secret spot you used to go to as a child? It was somewhere that you could let your imagination run free. Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean that the need for that spot isn’t still there. Perhaps installing a bench in your garden that you visit each morning or evening, or a certain spot you stop at on your daily walk – all of these are scared places to help you find inner peace. For me, when I groom my horse and turn him out for exercise, it’s my playtime as well. At work, there is a complex across the street where I go and sit in the afternoon to have tea. A friend of mine finds happiness by climbing to the rooftop of her building on her afternoon break and looks out over the city where she lives. Find a spot to visit at least once a day.
Prayer Place: While the preferred place for people to pray or meditate may be in a church, temple, mosque or other place of worship, you can create a personal prayer space just about anywhere you feel the need. In the corner of my living room, I have a place to sit in the lotus position and practice meditating techniques, with a bookshelf for spiritual literature as well as inspirational sayings and pictures. Another idea is to create a spiritual “bag” that contains a shawl or pillow, some small spiritual books, candles and pictures that you can take with you on a hike, picnic or trip. A friend has a special “prayer kit” that contains a small Bible, rosary beads, a white candle and small pictures of Jesus, The Virgin Mary and the Saints, and is contained in a shaving kit bag. She only uses this for traveling.
These are just some examples of small ways in which you can nurture your spiritual, emotional and physical lives on a daily basis. If you take the time, even if it’s just ten minutes twice a day, to find and enjoy your sacred spaces, you will reap the infinite benefits of balance and heightened spirituality.

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