Sometime during my late thirties, it became painfully obvious that family life was not my path. While my girlfriends were busy starting families, I was increasingly obsessed with yoga. Until that point we had shared goals and dreams, but with no crumbs and spilled milk on the back seat of my car and no husband anywhere in sight, my life was taking a different direction from theirs. I realized I needed a new map. I moved to South India for a year to study yoga and find my calling.
In Mysore, I rented a big old house and a beat-up moped. Every morning at 5 am I saluted the sun and stood on my head. Every afternoon I hosted a wanton mix of students at my home for a class on yoga philosophy. I dodged cows and Tata trucks on my scooter and hung fresh garlands of jasmine over my doorway. Every evening, after meditation, I sat on my front step under the gently swaying palm trees and contemplated how bizarre, and how utterly right this choice had been.
I learned to relax that year. I became softer. I learned to breathe deeply and to keep a strict discipline. I finally learned to silence the constant self-doubt that was an heirloom from a chaotic childhood. I started to paint. I earned a teaching authorization that gave me confidence to pursue my passion further. Suddenly I could travel the world and make a decent living doing it.
When I stopped trying to fit myself into others’ versions of how I should my life, I relaxed profoundly. I followed my heart to what brings me happiness: yoga. And, while I was busy doing what I love, I found a community that shared my passion. I found my tribe. Rather than playing tag-a-long with my girlfriend’s families, I had created my own.
Perhaps a spiritual journey is about making peace with your circumstances, even when life does not go the way you expect. Trying to follow someone else’s path may frustrate you and prevent you from realizing your dreams. To find your calling, you may need to let go of preconceived notions of what your life should look like. Admittedly, this can be painful. I’ve learned that in order to respect myself, I need to honor my quirky choice of lifestyle and accept that some people may judge me. But that year in Mysore was one of the best years of my life and I developed a discipline there that has become an integral part of my life. And that awakening was the key to discovering happiness.
Are you trying to follow someone else’s path through life? Did you give up on your dreams at some point? Are you following your passion, listening to your heart to guide you to the best possible lifestyle for you? Leave your replies below.