For the past twenty-five years I’ve been a teacher helping people live healthier, happier lives physically, mentally & spiritually. I’ve guided CEO’s, athletes, entrepreneurs, Moms and Dads through the power of yoga in creating leaner, stronger & more flexible bodies while connecting to a deeper part of their inner self and discovering lasting peace. Through my own daily practice I’ve learned a lot about what makes for a fulfilling life – a life that honors our authentic self and values our most treasured gifts.
June is a month of graduations and transitions to a new phase of life for many. My daughter is graduating and in only a few months she’ll be off to UCLA to start on a new path. Although she is probably tired of me giving her advice & holding her accountable for her actions, I can’t help share a few more lessons in hopes that it makes a positive difference in this exciting next phase of her life. I hope these lessons speak to you and if there is a student who might benefit from this wisdom, please pass the newsletter on as a graduation gift.
#1. It’s not what you have it’s who you become that matters. What you have & what you do will never be as important as who you become. In yoga we call it Svadhyaya or self-study. Learn to meditate on the self & find the light within. In the Bhagavad Gita one of the oldest & most read scriptures today, it is written, “On this path, effort never goes to waste and there is no failure”. While this particular author was speaking of the path of enlightenment, this quote can be applied to any effort we undertake in the pursuit of being all we can be.
#2. Find Your Treasure. By treasure, I’m not talking about material things or your net worth. I’m talking about finding something in life that you’re passionate about and pursue it. Take that passion, give it your all, and then not only will you be happy, but you’ll also be successful. Choose a first class education or place to work that will challenge you, and then surround yourself with bright, motivated people with integrity. Always be learning & remember to have fun along the way. Don’t just pick a career at which you’re good. Pursue a career that you love instinctively and that comes intuitively for you. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna, “Better your own dharma done imperfectly, than someone else’s done perfectly”.
#3 Be A Leader. Pay close attention to the leaders you admire and then figure out ways to emulate them. Too many people struggle with a fear of leadership, both a fear of offering leadership and of responding to the leadership of others. Move past this and develop the courage & skills to be an effective leader and just as important learn to be an effective follower when that is the right thing to do. Today, more than ever, you are needed. Your strong character is needed. Your finely honed skills are needed. I know you will rise to the challenge.
The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions – Confucius
#4 Find A Mentor. The common Zen expression, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Ready or not, teachers are constantly appearing in our lives, but sometimes it is difficult to recognize because we are looking for someone that meets our image or idea of “teacher.” As I look back at my life some of my most impactful mentors are people I didn’t realize were mentors at the time. Finding a kalyanamitra the Sanskrit word for spiritual friendship is something more than someone to hang out with, but rather implies a person that becomes our guide and serves to inspire us along our path to awakening.
#5 Joy in life comes from the things you do daily, not in the next big thing.
The things you do daily are what make up your life. I remember I was at a beautiful place called Red Rocks at early dawn presenting at a yoga conference. I looked out to an amazing group of smiling faces under a clear blue sky with the mountains in the distance and I turned to my assistant and said, ” Amazing, do you realize I get paid to do this?”
#6 You become like the people whom you associate, the books you read and the things you watch. If you were to evaluate the major influences in your life that have shaped the kind of person you are, this has to be high on the list: the people and thoughts you choose to allow into your life. “Never underestimate the power of influence.” Indeed, the influence of those around us is so powerful! Many times we don’t even realize we’re being strongly affected because influences generally develop over an extended period of time.
To my daughter heading to college, my son heading to high school and everyone else creating a new chapter in your book of life take time to pause & reflect between the celebrations and the winding road ahead.