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The Great Work of Your Life

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I’M READING A really interesting book right now by Stephen Cope, a psychotherapist and senior Kripalu Yoga teacher, author of Yoga and the Quest for the True Self and The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living. He is also the founder and director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living, the largest yoga research institute in the West. His most recent book is the one that I am reading – The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. It is a book about vocations and callings – the work we do in our life. In the first chapter he asks questions to the readers “Am I living fully right now? Am I bringing forth everything I can bring forth? Am I living my life’s calling? Am I bringing my own genius to the world?” The book is an examination of our calling, our work (our dharma as the yogis call it) in light of the teachings of the 2,000-year-old Bhagavad Gita (an ancient Sanskrit text). This book has encouraged me to reflect on my own life and the decisions I have made and the decisions that I will continue to make. Cope talks about how our “life-work” or “dharma” or “calling” changes as we age. Retirement may look very different from the work we do when we are 20 or 30 or 40. He suggests that at every stage in our life we can reinvent ourselves and find a new purpose or a new calling. And, of course, our callings are different from person to person and that is the beauty of it. A person’s dharma is as unique as his fingerprint. I happened to drop into Extendicare the other day while running an errand. I opened the door and was immediately surrounded by wonderful music. Four musicians (some of them retired) volunteer their time on a regular basis to play for the residents.   I felt like my heart grew 10 times as I moved into the room to watch, and eventually sit with one of the residents.  One woman leaned in to me and whispered: “They come every week, dear, and they are so good and I always feel so happy when they come.”  As I sat and watched, I thought about the great work these four are doing. They take their fiddle, guitars and cello in on a regular basis and add such joy into the lives of the people who live there. We all have great work to do in our own way. The yoga tradition is very interested in the idea of the inner possibility harboured within every human soul. We all matter and we all make a difference.   I’m so happy to live in an area where I see examples of great work every day. Tuesday, 2 April, 2013

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