This conversation started as I was riding into work one day. My wife and I were sharing a conversation about a show called Dharma and Greg, a sitcom concerning a lawyer and a bohemian hippie girl’s marriage to each other and their struggles reconciling his upper-class values with her hippie values.
At one point, Greg has struck out, hung his own shingle, and is starting to feel the stress of being on his own. He said something profound, but it only makes sense if you reverse the order of his two sentences:
You know, when somebody says follow your bliss it sounds like it’s gonna be a lot of fun. And that’s what’s scary ’cause it’s a lot harder to create your own path than to follow one that’s been laid out for you.
It’s true. Following your bliss is always simpler said than done. It’s easier to walk a trail someone else blazed than it is to blaze your own. Its hard, scary, and you don’t get to blame anyone else for the pitfalls you encounter. Nothing is easy about following your bliss, except the knowledge that it becomes easier for others to follow you, or to be brave enough to make their own path.
I have had some setbacks. My two classes are on hiatus because of lack of attendance for a while – and it sucks. I wondered if I just suck as a teacher, or if there is something about what I am teaching that is not fun, or if it is just boring as hell.
Then as I was feeling miserable for myself, my wife’s belly dance class got supplanted by a hatha class that is just now getting started and took her slot at the district she works at. Now the both of us are looking at our bliss and wondering why we are not ‘there’ doing it.
Cary Tennis of Salon.com writes a column called Since You Asked where someone who followed her bliss has found herself at the end of her rope and wondering if she wasted her life. It’s the burning question that those who follow their bliss have – did I waste my time since others who followed a well-trodden path have so much more than I?
Did I waste my time? As I reflected on it, no I didn’t. I didn’t have many students, but I was able to be with them and discuss the things that bothered them, to talk to them and offer comfort. In a world where love and comfort are precious commodities – I was given a fortune and spent it well. As for my wife, she found someone who has a love for belly dancing that wanted to learn – students like that are rare and far between.
So – there is merit to following your bliss. Yay!!!!
The path to following your bliss is simple, yet hard. Like a bad habit. Its easy to say “don’t do that” but its harder to put it into effect. Joseph Campbell laid out a way to do that:
- Find your bliss. This means you have to go and discover yourself and find what makes you happy. Its the one thing that makes your eyes light up, your heart go pitty-pat, and makes you feel like all is right in the universe.
- Make your recipe for bliss. Do you need a space for it? Students? Time? Your list may shorten or expand as you explore how to take your dream from inside your head to the outside world. Document and spend time figuring out how to make it work.
- Reflect on those ingredients and see how they manifest in your life. See where the elements of your bliss are in your life and how they are expressed. Take that and reconcile it with your recipe.
- Understand why your bliss makes you happy. For me, on top of yoga, I play capoeira – a Brazilian martial art. The bliss of capoeira balances the bliss of yoga. Others are jazzed to just knock on the sky. I have to have the dual aspects of combat and stillness to feel complete.
- Write it down. Describe it in your own words and give it shape. God spoke the Universe into existence – by speaking your own bliss into shape, you create it and give it form and substance.
- Test drive your plan and refine it until its working perfectly. Your bliss is alive and evolving as you are alive and evolving – so it should flex and adapt as you flex and adapt.
- Start living your bliss. As you live it, you will find yourself describing your life as you refine your bliss. Careers will turn up that take you farther along with your bliss, or you may find that your bliss was in what you were doing in the first place.
However, as my wife realize that what we are doing at the time doesn’t lend itself to following our bliss, we are restructuring our time to find and follow it again. Our own refining of our plans should finish by the end of the school year in a few months. We will be focusing our endeavors at CircleSpace for the summer, since our time constraints are looser over then.
So keep following your bliss and keep up with us. In between now and summer, I have a series of small workshops coming that will introduce kundalini yoga again to another population and get that rolling, as well as a few couples workshops.
My bliss is still in teaching.
And, to wrap things up, Greg found his bliss was in what he was doing all along.
Sat Nam everyone!