Dharma – It’s Complicated

I had one of those moments this past weekend where it was like: “This. This is an essential part of the work I’m meant to be doing in this world.” Have you ever experienced that? It’s such a powerful feeling.

I’ve felt it before, while writing (which can seem like such a solitary activity, though it’s really not) and when holding one of the books I wrote.

But this time it was at an in-person day-long workshop that I held at the home of a friend who lives near Boston (no, not the workshop shown here – why do I almost never remember to have someone take a picture?!).

I first noticed on the drive down that I wasn’t feeling nervous at all. I’d held this workshop before, but online rather than in person. Ordinarily, driving to a new location by myself and leading a group of new people would bring on at least a little bit of anxiety, but not this time.

The next time I tuned in to how I was feeling was about 90 minutes into the workshop. I noticed that it felt completely natural to be leading this group of aspiring authors through this material that I’d created. The word that popped into my mind was dharma.

What do I mean by dharma? It’s a complicated concept. Here’s a definition that I like, from the website Yogapedia.com (emphasis mine):

Dharma is a Hindu, Buddhist and yogic concept that refers to the idea of a law, or principle, governing the universe. For an individual to live out their dharma is for them to act in accordance with this law. In Buddhism, it is said that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment.

The implication of dharma is that there is a right way for each person to carry out their life. Dharma is closely related to the concepts of duty and service to others, or seva. It has no single-word Western translation, which sometimes makes it a difficult concept for Westerners to grasp. One close translation, however, is “right way of living.”

But is book midwifery my dharma, or is writing? Or is it leading retreats? Or priestessing?

Actually, dharma is complex. It’s not just one thing, or defined by a particular profession. It’s the best way of living, for you. It’s unique to each person.

It also, as I understand it, can change over time. Fifteen or twenty years ago, not only did I not have the experience to teach this stuff, it also would have thrown me into an anxious panic.

Here I am at 50, the author of 4 published books, with a 5th on the way soon, manuscripts for 2 in progress, and ideas for at least 3 more. My creativity is flowing like a fountain. I’m confident and empowered. I long to make a difference in the world, through writing and teaching.

And there are people who resonate with what I offer and how I share it. I’m able to be of service in a whole new way.

It feels amazing. I’m so thankful.


Tell me what you think!