This thought is on most people's mind these days...well, for decades to be truthful.
Not that I listen to Jay Z (shameless disclaimer), but he has a song entitled "On to the Next One" that has a striking catch phrase. Because my children span from the ages of 10 to 23, I often listen to the lyrics of pop music so that I am always aware of what is being fed into the minds of our youth through the "ministry" of music. Well in this particular song, Jay Z and Swizz Beats boast, "I gotta million ways to get it, choose one." While they are referring to loot/cash/money/riches, this phrase immediately reminds me of my purpose in life. Society presents us with a million ways to go about finding the reason we are here, but I think this journey begins with ONE major step:
STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
I know this sounds basic and cliche, but its gotta be one of the hardest things for people to do initially. OMG!!! I am one who likes to start at the bottom line and build up...unlike my "self help" counterparts who penned The Secret which, for the mass sheeple, is like feeding calculus to a 2nd grader in my humble opinion. This society is so misinformed that true change means that one MUST begin at Ground "0"...yea, but who has time for that, right? In order to find true purpose...YOUR true purpose...the first step is to step away from the bubble we live in...and we all live in one. That place where we are consumed with how we look to others, succeeding in life, personal pleasures and demons, other people's problems...etc., etc., etc.
Stepping outside of our comfort zone means that for the first time we can begin to see things from a less self-centered approach, A certain level of humility is inherent in our new space and allows us to view our strengths and gifts from a more macrocosmic vantage point. Outside of our comfort zone we take things that happen to us less personal and can begin to understand that when someone deliberately offends or insults us, it's less about us and more about their own insecurities and shortcomings.
Finding your purpose is an inward journey, contrary to popular belief, and far too many of us are so full of the desire for temporary pleasures that the real keys to who we are are buried deep beneath the rubble. When we muster up the courage to take a few steps outside of our normal survival mechanisms, we can see that much of our need for pleasure is just a temporary, fleeting sensation that is neither loyal to our destinies or even remotely interested in our Divine purpose. In our warm fuzzy little comfort zones personal desire is the center of our existence. When we step outside of this we can actually see the things that God has been trying to show us like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Our context shifts from the personal desire to be better to the personal desire to be better within the world we seek to make better. Understand? In this new found freedom, our focus shifts to the greater universal good and our choices stem from our natural roles within this greater universal good. These choices connect the dots to our purpose, our Divine gifts. As we begin to learn ways to fulfill our purpose, everything shifts to a higher frequency including our respective career goals, familial goals, spiritual goals, etc., as well as the kind of company we keep. Once the things that truly matter to us become much bigger than ourselves, our Divine universal purpose can be revealed to us. We open ourselves to receiving the tools that are essential to the fulfillment of our purpose.
Of course, leaving your well lived in comfort zone is not easy; it takes lots of mental, physical and spiritual work. But the reward of unlocking the door to self is an unmatched, never-ending reservoir of peace and wisdom. Keep it simple. When those sneaky feelings of insecurity, anger, fear, anxiety, sadness rear their ugly heads, rebuke them expeditiously for these are the things that drag us backwards and lock us into our bubbles. Outside of the bubble, we discern that such negative emotions are just fleeting traps that can be let go of and loosed for good. Get started. The time is now.
Here are a few pointers to get your ball rolling:
Read more. For me, it's biblical teachings and other anecdotal literature that inspire. Find yours.
Meditate on the bigger picture of life. Think on the infinite as opposed to the finite.
Give freely and be genuinely happy for the success of others. Kill your green-eyed monster.
Pray all the time. Talk to God. Speak your desire to grow spiritually.
Seize moments of quiet solitude so that you can train your spirit to hear Divine spirit.
Choose Joy at all cost.
Soon you will wonder how you ever existed any other way.
I am surrounded by distractions.
Distractions separate me from God.
I choose to be ONE with God, not separate.
Being spirits ourselves, both elevated as well as unclean spirits are able to use us to either help or hinder, assist or agitate, uplift or tear down our fellow humans. This will either bring us closer to our destiny or pull us further from our destiny.
Consider the story of sisters Mary and Martha.
The Prophet Jesus had come to visit them in their home per Martha's welcome.
Imagine the tremendous blessing of a Prophet of God visiting YOU in your humble abode.
What a glorious opportunity to sit at the feet of such Wisdom and soak up as much understanding as you can. Imagine your sister preparing food for Jesus, so you take it upon yourself to show the utmost reverence and humility by bearing your soul in tears and servitude, washing his feet and anointing them with soothing oil and ointment.
Now imagine that your sister, who was preparing a meal for Jesus, becomes bitter and resentful towards you simply because you did not choose to serve in the same way that she did. Martha became distracted and projected her distraction upon Mary by throwing her under the bus to Jesus saying, "My Lord, do you not care that my sister Mary has left me to serve alone? Please, then, tell her to get up and help me." Instead of Martha seeing the beauty in the balance of their servitude and the honor of providing food and physical sustenance, she found fault in how Mary chose to serve Jesus, distracting her from her spiritual work with her Lord.
But the Prophet Jesus checked Martha's incessant whining by informing her that she "is worried and troubled about many things," and this was the cause of her distraction.
We have all portrayed the actions of both Mary and Martha at different times in our lives; either being distracted by another person's issues, or distracting others with our own issues.
I neither want to be distracted nor do I desire to be a distraction to others, and this has been the crux of my meditations most recently. My mind took me back to one of my favorite meditative anecdotes, the Tao Te Ching. The passage that spoke to me this month posed several questions whose answers took me on a deeply introspective journey into self:
Can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become supple as a newborn childs?
Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?
Meditate on these personal inquiries.
"Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue"
Change into loose,comfy clothing so that your sitting is not restricted in any way
Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed
Sit comfy on the ground, with your legs outstretched or crossed
Close your eyes and concentrate on relaxing each part of your body
Begin at the tips of your toes and envision the blood flowing throughout your body to the top of your head, the Crown Chakra (Sanskrit) or your Ori (Yoruba).
Once you are focused on your blood flow, tune in to your breathing pattern.
Breathe in through your nose (if possible) and out through your mouth, making an "Ohhh"or "Ahhh"sound as you exhale.
Once your breathing is regulated, channel your attention towards your thoughts and feelings. Let them roam free for a while in your mind, 1 to 2 minutes.
Next, capture your thoughts and move them to the outer space of your mind. This is called "Clear Your Canvas" meditation.
Expeditiously push all thoughts that race for the center of your mind to the outer edges, far left/far right,etc.
Try to focus on your clear canvas, that is, the pure space in the center of your mind, entertaining no thoughts that try to invade that space.
Keeping calm and still, continue this exercise for 2 to 5 minutes.
Once you reach your calm space, choose one of the questions from the aforementioned Tao Passage and place it in the center of your mind. For example, "Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light?"
Think on the question and understand it. "What is the light?" for example. Define the question in your own mind. If you find that the answer is Yes, then you are already in a perpetual state of peace and love. Congrats and keep rising...answer another question.
If the answer is "No", then meditate on how to make the answer "Yes." What does "cleansing" mean for you? What internal work needs to be done? What does it mean to see the light? Relax and let your mind navigate to truth, peace and oneness. Enjoy the journey.