In the yoga tradition there is a concept called swadharma: a Sanskrit word which refers to the “right actions that are unique to each individual, according to their own innate nature.” (Shakti Leadership p.114)
No two swadharmas are the same because no two individuals are the same. To find and to understand one’s swadharma requires you to go on journey of self-discovery. This journey is the heroic journey popularized by Joseph Campbell and portrayed in many stories across time. Think Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Lyra Silvertongue, and Moana.
All journeys follow a similar plot. The would-be hero experiences a crisis: something which forces her to leave her old life behind in order to solve a problem. As the hero ventures out into the world, she encounters new experiences, meets allies, and confronts villains. At one point, she faces a very dangerous and scary situation: a situation which forces her to go within and to heal an inner conflict. The hero’s willingness and ability to find her inner wise self is her salvation and allows her to find the solution to the original problem. In other words, the hero’s journey is how the elixir, needed to heal the community, is found. The micro is the macro.
Whenever we choose to go on a journey, we learn about our innate nature.
We discover what we like and don’t like. We learn how to navigate new people, new environments, new cultures. We have opportunities to practice surrender as well as opportunities to set boundaries. In essence, a journey is a real-life application of our values. We quickly find out the difference between believing in something and being able to act on that belief.
Parenting is one such journey. I had so many ideas about how I would parent. The things I would NEVER do and the things I would ALWAYS do. Then I had a baby and all those ideas were put to the test. I quickly discovered that absolutes are pretty rare and my decisions had to be based on my available resources, including time, as well as on my moral code.
My parenting journey helped me to prioritize goals, to really understand sacrifice (selfless acts), and to have more compassion and empathy for other parents, especially my own. My parenting journey, more importantly, helped me to understand myself and my swadharma.
Each journey we take, and we take many over the course of our life, is an opportunity to deepen our understanding as well as our ability to live our higher purpose.
Raising sons helped me understand the importance of elevating the feminine energy in all people – not just women. Wanting my sons to embrace and to use the feminine energy, and furthermore, realizing that they needed to in order to be healthy, whole people, changed the way I lived my higher purpose. My parenting journey is one reason why Shakti in the Mountains welcomes all genders in the space.
If you are not sure what your swadharma is or you want to affirm your understanding of your swadharma, then I offer the following introduction. This quote comes from the book Shakti Leadership by Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia (p.119):
Until then, as Andrew Harvey says, “Follow your heartbreak.” What in the world that causes you deep, almost physical anguish – something that you feel urgently needs tending to, healing, or setting right? This may well point you to your swadharma, your unique purpose to follow and fulfill. This heartbreak may be your “call to adventure,” which, once heeded, will lead you to the elixir and to your bliss.
I could not have articulated my swadharma as a child; however, I could have told you how deeply upset I got whenever I saw people, in particular women, being treated poorly. In college I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter and, right after college, worked as a case manager in community mental health. Both of these experiences were a “call to adventure,” which lead to graduate school and other professional experiences that helped me gather the knowledge needed to open what became Shakti in the Mountains.
The path was not always clear or linear, and it continues to evolve. I keep going on adventures, learning new things, meeting new people. I now understand that part of my path is to support other people as they navigate their journeys, specifically to help people become whole, flexible and congruent leaders living their swadharma.
If you are interested in joining my next leadership development cohort (happening in late fall), then please email me with your intention. You will be the first to know the particulars and be invited to register.
In the meantime, I hope you will join Jil and Jenn this Friday between 2 and 5 pm as they host Makerspace Open Hours. I will be out of town August 11-15 on an adventure and will join you next week.
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Since 2010, Kim continues to build and to support a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.
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