In class this week: Saturday 10:30a – 12p at Durham Yoga Company.

live up to the spirit


It has been said that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. While I appreciate the sentiment behind this, I actually think this notion is a trap and I’m afraid I’ve been falling into a bit these days. The truth is, realizing your potential does take work. And “doing what you love” does not always “pay off” – especially in the context of what bell hooks calls the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.

Doing what you love takes commitment, devotion, and discernment. Discernment is a process of deep and intentional listening, toward the end of receiving clarity about a particular question. The question can be anything of significance.

The process of discernment is about being willing to sit in the discomfort of the unknown for however long it takes for clarity to emerge. For folks seeking to live a meaningful and coherent life, there will likely be at least one if not several significant discernment periods along the way. From all I’ve seen and studied, this is a sometimes uncomfortable but nonetheless necessary part of committing to the path of enlightenment and self-realization—of committing to the uncovering of one’s vocation, svadharma or life’s work.

The alternative, to paraphrase my Ayurveda teacher, is unhappiness and disease. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you have to realize your potential. If you don’t, you’ll be unhappy, and you’ll make everyone else unhappy too.”

The unhappiness and disease that comes from not realizing your potential can manifest in myriad ways, everything from addiction/self-medication through a variety of “opiates” (media, substances, sex, self-sabotage) to lethargy/immobility/stagnation to more extreme chronic disease and beyond. In Ayurvedic terms, all of these would be a manifestation of imbalance in your system. If you are not utilizing your power, not sharing your skills and gifts, not expressing yourself fully using whatever tools and resources are optimal for you, then your system is not balanced. That potential energy that’s within you must be expressed, must come out some way or another.

What are the ways that you may be failing to realize your fullest potential right now? In what ways might you be squandering your skills and gifts, siphoning off your energy and giving away your power in service of something lesser? In what ways might that be manifesting as imbalance, disease (“dis- ease” or lack of ease), unhappiness, passive aggression, self-sabotage? How can you refine your vision and commit to the service of Something Greater, to your vocation, your svadharma?

A willingness to engage in honest and appreciate self-inquiry can yield incredible clarity, potent motivation, and transformative momentum. And even if you are not in the midst of a great transition, discernment can be a day-to-day ritual of practicing deep listening to your inner wisdom, the part of you that is all the time reflecting back how well you’re doing at aligning with your fullest potential and harnessing your infinite power. You can come alive, more and more every day, by the simple act of deep listening.

Join me on the mat tomorrow.  Honor yourself enough to pay attention.

fall-offerings-full-sheetDon’t forget I have a number of upcoming offerings designed to help support the work of deep listening and deep commitment for the long haul.  Up next: another mini-retreat devoted to sustainability, and a whole weekend-long exploration of yoga + social justice. It’s all here. Check it out.

About bienestarte

Patty Adams is a bilingual clinical social worker, as well as an experienced yoga teacher and anti-oppression trainer. She is devoted to intersectional organizing, liberation, holistic healing arts, and wellness.
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