In my previous post, “Use the 4 Aims of Yoga to Create Abundance and Empower Your Life“, I promised you a Part II. Well, here it is! In this post I will get detailed and dirty about how you can feel more ease and joy in your life when you use the four aims of yoga as your foundation.
It’s important to re-iterate and start with clarifying what the word ‘Yoga’ means.
I understand and get it when you hear the word ‘yoga’ you think of impossible feats of flexibility. Until I started studying the bigger picture of yoga and yoga philosophy that’s is exactly what I thought as well.
So let’s clear this up –
Yoga, as we westerners know it is actually only one small part of true yoga. Yoga is actually comprised of eight categories (we call them ‘the 8 limbs of yoga’). What you think of when you hear Yoga is actually called ‘asana’ – those crazy poses we do with our bodies during a class. There are seven other aspects of yoga that have nothing to do with poses or ‘fitness class’ type of yoga (I’ll cover them in another post)
This is our launch point for learning how the four Aims of Yoga can help up create a life we love. Think of yoga as something much bigger than a yoga class. Think of it as a way of life that helps you overcome limiting beliefs, direct your time and attention to the things that really matter to you and gives you the tools to build a foundation in your life that is unshakable.
Using the Four Aims of Yoga
In the previous post I shared the four aims and briefly described each of them. Head back over to that post to review them in more detail, but they are: Dharma, Artha, Kama & Moksha.
I have spent a lot of time in the last year studying the four aims and figuring out how to overlay those in a way that is actionable, understandable and practical for everyday people like you (and me). Because as much as I would like to to live in an ashram in India… that’s not going to happen… I have a thing called ‘life’ I have to live and so do you. We have jobs, and bills, families and much more, so I feel like it’s important to share things with you that apply to ‘real-life’.
I’ve also done some research and looked at what makes people feel like their lives are meaningful and joyful. Here’s what I’ve learned – Most people want to feel like their lives have purpose. They want a sense of feeling empowered or powerful in their roles and activities. Lastly, and probably most important, they want a sense of peace. The four aims give us purpose, power and peace when we know how to apply them to our lives.
To keep it simple I’ve created a way that we can use the four aims to create our incredible lives without having to move to an ashram in India!
Powerful Self – Peaceful Spirit – Purposeful Soul
It starts with getting clear on defining your Purposeful Soul – We do this by getting clear on our dharma (your unique life’s purpose). When you take some time and get clear on what your skills and talents are that the world needs from you in this specific time and place, then it’s easier to say yes/no to events, jobs, opportunities, etc. For example, I know that my dharma is to be a teacher and use my voice to light the way for others. I am an Alchemist who transforms things that are undesirable into things that are exceptional. When I get an opportunity or want to do something I run it through that filter. If it doesn’t align with those things I say no. If it does I know I’m on the right track!
Since each of us has a unique purpose that is tied to a bigger, more universal power defining our purpose requires that we tap into a spiritual life – that is our moksha – by having some type of spiritual practice. When a mentor told me that prayer is when we talk to God, but meditation is when God talks to us I was sold on having better communication with my higher power and began a regular meditation practice.
Fully embodying our most Powerful Self means we use our talents/abilities combined with the necessary resources to bring our dharma into the world. The ‘Self’ is the outward manifestation of our Soul. To do this we must tap into artha (the means necessary to bring our dharma into the world). This could be pursuing specific knowledge or purchasing something that supports our work. It could also be something as simple as transportation (bus, train, car, plane) that supports what gives our soul purpose. Artha does not mean we are accumulating material goods for no reason. It means we seek material goods and services that serve a very specific purpose and we don’t have more than we need.
Kama (pleasure brought on my sensory experiences-see, smell, touch, taste, hear) also supports sustaining our Powerful Self. Although Kama is fleeting and doesn’t give us a deep sense of purpose, we need to enjoy our lives, the people in it and feel rewarded for for our hard work. I love the idea that having a beautiful, radiant life doesn’t mean depriving ourselves. But, of the four aims – excess Kama (of any kind) will be the one the bite you in the ass and get you off track!
Lastly it’s important to establish a spiritual practice that will sustain a Peaceful Spirit. I’m not talking about religion or going to church. A spiritual life is much deeper and more fulfilling and it’s much more personal. A fulfilling spiritual life is an intimate relationship with a higher power that doesn’t depend on other people’s approval. Peaceful Spirit can be cultivated through meditation, time in nature, journalling and other solitary activities.
Below I’ve shared a visual of how to create a life of purpose, power and peace using the four aims.
Life is dynamic and we don’t always spend equal time in each area, but we can strive to live from a place of purpose, power and peace. This is how we begin to know ourselves on a deeper level and can tell when we’re out of balance. Even if you’re not crystal clear on your dharma or don’t meditate every day you can begin to structure a life that gives you a sense of purpose and peace… follow your intuition, it will help you!