Personal life and professional life. Work-life balance. 9-5 and family time.
It’s natural for us to compartmentalize our jobs and separate them from other aspects of our lives. The reasoning for this makes sense: in a time where it’s easy to work from home and “off-the-grid” is a rapidly disappearing concept, it’s the best way to make sure that our jobs don’t end up taking up time we should be spending with our friends and families (or simply alone by ourselves).
But does this separation actually exist? Can we truly keep our jobs, which occupy over a third of our waking hours, from impacting the rest of our time? The short answer is a resounding “no”.
Work and Spirituality
It’s common for spiritual seekers to think of their careers as something distinct from the spiritual journey. We have a work life and a personal life that we do our best to keep separate, and our spiritual lives are placed firmly in the personal category.
This is not true for everyone, of course. Some people have been blessed to follow their artistic passion and work in a creative field, while others may have answered their spiritual calling of helping people in the medical or social field. But for many other spiritual travelers, a career is often seen as “an inconvenience” or even “a necessary evil”, one that we put up with only to make sure we can afford the basic necessities of life while we seek personal and spiritual fulfillment in our free time.
In reality, our work affects our lives far more than we like to admit. A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found a direct correlation between overall happiness and happiness at work. Refuting the idea of work-life separation, the study concluded that our work environments play a huge role in the emotions you experience outside of work. In other words, compartmentalizing your career and your personal life is virtually impossible, and a bad job can create problems in your life that seriously hamper your relationships and your spiritual progress.
Dharma and Vocation
Choosing the right profession (what we at Higher Self Yoga would call a “vocation” or a “true calling”) is actually heavily tied into the Buddhist and Hindu ideas of Dharma. It has a variety of interpretations in Buddhism and Hinduism, but in general, it refers to the way we live our lives spiritually and ethically, along with the way our souls develop along their evolutionary path.
One of the many meanings of dharma refers to the work a person chooses to do in a given lifetime. This work relates to the individual’s evolving soul, and the work we do can help our souls go onward to another level of maturity. This does not mean that we have to achieve fame or amass huge amounts of wealth, as those are not true metrics of fulfillment. Instead, it’s only important that our souls feel they have done the best work possible.
If you feel you have achieved something with your life, that feeling is impressed on your soul and goes forward with you to the next life. This makes determining your vocation and working towards it one of the most important things you can do to move forward on your spiritual journey.
The Difficulty of Discovering Your Vocation
People can have problems discovering their true vocations for various reasons. They might lack education, or they might simply not even be aware that their ideal profession exists. Emotional struggles can play a role, too. For example, people who have problems with self-acceptance would have difficulty pursuing any vocation that required leadership and responsibility. Others may have chosen their current profession for the wrong reasons, like placating a parent or ego gratification. With all these potential roadblocks, we must look to the inner self to discover the true life’s work.
For you to know and accept your vocation, you must ask your higher Self to help you uncover it step by step. It’s not a short process – each step will reveal a new insight, and each insight, when meditated upon, will bring forth the next step. It is like unraveling a ball of yarn. When all is completely unraveled and laid out, it’s then possible to discern the colors and patterns, and understand the best way it is to be knitted.
Remember, the Higher Self always knows the true vocation but cannot reveal it completely if there is any fear about knowing it. The Higher Self allows you to work slowly toward discovery, helping as much as it can. In some cases, answers are revealed very quickly. In others, it takes time.
Exercise: Ask Your Higher Self to Find Your Work
This exercise will tell you directly if you have, indeed, made the right choice. And if you haven’t, it will help you identify what your true vocation is.
Below is the first visualization meditation we provide to new learners hoping to connect with their Higher Self.
Go through the meditation, following along with every step. When you are instructed to ask a question to your Higher Self, ask “What is my life’s work?”
You may get a direct answer or just a hint. Write it down, then ask again. Keep doing this, writing everything down, even if it’s just an impression or a symbol that seems to make no sense. Don’t think about it, just write it down. This process may take several days or weeks. The Self will usually reveal a little at a time. Don’t feel rushed. When you reach the point at which you don’t receive anything at all, then you know it’s time to go on. You will probably have a list of items to work with. If the list is very long, try to group the items into categories, like the arts, the sciences, etc.
Then, do the following exercise:
Focus your attention on your heart center. Take some time to experience the energy that is there.
Then, imagine placing an image of one of the categories in your heart center.
If it is difficult for you, just say to yourself: ….. “My image of ____ is in my heart,” and THINK it there.
Then, tell your Higher Self:
“If my life’s work is in this category, please let me feel it in my heart.”
The heart chakra responds in various ways. It may start to pulse or move in a circular motion. It could also feel like it is expanding or emitting warmth. Working with it on a regular basis will help you discern what is the right reaction for you.
Pick the category your heart responds to most strongly and work with each item in the group. If you didn’t need to make categories initially, take your list of items and work with them the same way. Connect with your Higher Self and, one at a time, place the items in your heart, asking the higher Self, “Please show me more about this.”
Take whatever you receive and keep working with it, asking to see more. Do this with each item until you have a larger picture of what your work could be.
At this point, you will probably be working with actual professions. For example, you may feel your work is in the arts, and you have come up with the profession of being an art director in advertising or an art gallery manager. The next step would be to take these jobs and do a separate visualization with each one:
Go through a typical day of work. Imagine doing this job and try to experience what that feels like.
Experience all the things that could happen in your new profession, both positive and negative.
After going through all the pros and cons, take the job and place it in your heart center and ask your Higher Self:
“Is this the work I’m supposed to be doing?” Feel the response.
At this stage, you should have a strong feeling as to what your vocation is to be.