I had a great night's sleep last night. I think I am still somewhere between this time zone and Copenhagen because I am insanely tired by 8 at night and wide awake at 5 in the morning. So if I could just stabilize myself in that schedule i wold be able to continue enjoying some highly productive morning hours... Anyway- I am enjoying being home for the better part of the week. I had time for a leisurely practice in the morning, a visit to the lemons on 6th and Lamar, a lovely lunch date with Kelly, some work in my office with Sam and a walk on the greenbelt followed by an awesome dinner with pasta and produce from Kelly's farmers market visit over the weekend.
One thing really on my mind these days is High Vision. There seems like there are two sides to living and working with a high vision. One is that we have to be involved in is work that we find meaningful, that makes a contribution and holds within it that which is worthy of our efforts and convictions. And so we are clear, I do not think work is necessarily vocation. I am not of the mindset that everyone can and should make a living at their passion. It is great when that happens and so on but it is not what I am talking about here. I think we can have work in the world that is not necessarily the way we earn our living or support our families and so on. The work I am talking about is more like Work- that which is our Heart's calling, our Heart's imperative, our purpose, our creative expression and so forth.
For instance, someone recently told me that they realized through a chain of events that they wanted to be a writer and as a result of this insight, they had set a goal for themselves that they would be paid to write. And they asked me for advice, which is always flattering and lovely. However, honestly, I was like, "I have no idea, I do not get paid to write!" Okay, true, I am published author, but honestly, that is not really "getting paid to write". For instance, Yoga From the Inside Out was very expensive to make because the pictures were all done before the age of digital cameras and there was A LOT of money spent on the pictures alone. Add in the hours spent writing, revising and so forth and the fact that when you buy that book on Amazon I make like $1, it took a long time before the investment in photographs alone was paid off.
Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. Not at all. And sure I have made some money on the book with invitations to teach and doors it has opened and so forth so its not a black or white thing. My point here is- I didn't write the book for money, I wrote the book because it demanded to be written. I was itching inside till I wrote it. I didn't even write it thinking about the day when it would be published and in some ways I was in denial that it would actually be a real, live book. In fact, the day all that information about me and my ideas was actually in print and publicly available, I had a mild anxiety attack. I did not write thinking a thing about end result other than perhaps wanting to offer something to others through the telling of my story. But it was actually a shock when the book came out.
So that to me is Work. We are in the field of Work when something inside demands to be brought forward and when we respond to the demand. Work like this may or may not yield a financial result. The point is in the doing, in the expression of the creative urge in the offering of a unique contribution. John Friend lately has been talking about this as our own artistic offering to the Shakti. And like I started with, I think having a way to express ourselves that is meaningful, having meaningful Work is key.
I also think there is another side to this dynamic as well. We have to have work that makes a contribution but we also have to recognize the contribution that we are making. And it is the recognition that completes a very vital part of the play.
So- back to the story of the writing, the next question might be "what actually makes you a writer?" Does getting paid to write make you a writer? Or does the writing make you a writer? Does someone benefiting from your writing make you a writer? Someone liking what you write? And so on. I write largely from an inner imperative, like I said. And I enjoy doing it. People are going to like it, not like, agree, not agree, benefit, disregard, be inspired, be annoyed and everything in between by what I write and so what gives the effort, what gives the offering, its value to me is not in the world of external validation, be that the domain of money, approval, or any type of outer "stamp."
Anyway, I did have some ideas for this person but my main advice was simply to write. If you feel called to write, write and let the universe decide how its going to compensate you. And I believe it will compensate you. Will the Universe always do it financially? Doubtful. Might it come that way? Absolutely. Will compensation come in ways you didn't foresee and in synchronicities, opportunities, insights and relationships as well. Definitely. My point is that if we are too narrow in our ability to recognize the many ways that payment might come then we limit our joy and our satisfaction.
Obviously, the parallels to teaching yoga are pretty obvious by now. We get called to teach. I think this calling is generally one of the most sincere, unadulterated, sincere longings to contribute and be of service and to share our love that most of us who get called to teach will ever experience. But what makes us a yoga teacher? Big classes? Being able to make a living at it? Owning the studio? Teaching out of town? Being on the cover of Yoga Journal? Making a video? Having our students like us? and so on. What outer markers of success and validation do we personally and collectively set up (consciously and unconsciously) that are right this moment narrowing our ability to recognize the contribution we are making and the payment we are receiving, I wonder.
This last year, I got a fair amount of email from people who felt dissatisfied with the way their yoga teaching career was unfolding. Not internally, mind you. They love what they do, they just expected to be somewhere "further" in some way by this time. And the time ranges from 2 years to 10 years of teaching experience so it is somewhat pervasive and not limited to the actual amount of time someone was teaching. Seems no matter how long someone was at it, they had this experience of coming up short of their own expectations.
But this expectation of "further" is generally living on the periphery of the experience of teaching yoga because when I interviewed these various teachers, they were definitely "further" interiorly. They had grown more skillful, more compassionate, more able to transmit the beauty of the practice and they reported feeling more connected to their heart. They have been paid handsomely, in fact. But the Universe may not always reimburse in the same currency that we invest!
Anyway- two sides to the coin as always- We come alive when we make a meaningful offering with our energy and talent. I think we need to contribute to the conversation of humanity in potent, authentic and creative ways. AND each one of us needs to do the work to recognize our contribution for what it is at its essence and not put off our own satisfaction based on narrowly defined, cultural standards (even modern yoga culture!!) that may lack the gravity and nuance of the deeper urges of the Heart which inspired the offering in the first place.
all right- shine brightly out there- the world needs us!