Emerson says: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
I have recently been taking an online course and something they have emphasized over and over again is about creating, offering, and living in alignment with your faith and purpose.
I got especially excited to hear these concepts being spoken and encouraged again and again because this is not a yoga course I am taking, it is a business course. But I could bring those business concepts right back to my heart and yoga.
A common thread throughout the history of Yoga are these ideas of Shraddha and Dharma or in English, Faith and Purpose, which pair together well. I’m sure more people are familiar with the term Dharma. It roughly means one’s life’s purpose. It is that thing you feel drawn towards, that thing you feel you were put on this earth to do. Essentially it’s what you can’t not do. Shraddha, on the other hand, may be a new concept. There is no single word or concept in the English language that is an accurate translation of Shraddha but the closest one may be “faith” or “devotion.”
The term comes from the root word “hrd”, meaning heart. Shraddha can be more accurately translated as “place heart on (something)” or “that which is placed in the heart”. Shraddha is a mind set of sincerity, purpose, modesty, reverence, and faith. The ancient yogic text, The Bhagavad Gita, says that a person is what their Shraddha is. This suggests that truly we are what is in our heart.
One of the things I love so much about Kripalu Yoga is that is an inquiry based approach to yoga on and off the mat. I am loving this business course and the presenters because they are not just feeding us information they have us reflecting on our life’s intention. One of the reoccurring questions is “What is your why?” I found myself translating their questions into, “what am I deeply devoted to?” and “what are my most cherished values?”. These questions are right at the center of Shraddha and devotion.
Inquiries like these take time and space to contemplate. Time to go inside, inquire, and patiently listen for the answers. Good news, these types of practices are built right into the system of yoga on the mat, on the meditation cushion, and for some- every action, interaction, and encounter in day to day life. Taking time to slow down, to get still, and listen to the longing of the heart requires some dedication and discipline. Creating space in daily life is important for these practices of understanding and growth to happen, like a little space everyday for a “daily practice”. But you can also dedicate a whole day every week like those that practice the sabbath or a few days every month in the form of a retreat. I have a friend that would set aside a month every year, like a mini sabbatical, where they devoted themselves to practice.
In the current situation of the world when many of us have had significant changes to our routine and life, and for others who have had their entire world upended, it is more important than ever to connect to the anchor and regularity of practice. That time and space set aside to step away from the outer world and go inside to connect to oneself and discover or remember what is in the heart. To rest in that space in the “hrd” (heart) where the real and true part of oneself resides. Where there is a steady, broad seeing, unchanging self that can connect to the bigger vision of life, the “why am I doing what I’m doing.