Friday, November 15, 2013

Can't find your passion in life? Look to your childhood for the answer!

Namaste dear reader,

I'm writing this blog in response to one of my most frequently asked questions: What should I DO?

Many people ask me what they should do with their time besides watch television, flip through magazines, surf the internet, and shop. They're eager to start some kind of hobby, or, even better, revamp their career so that it's in tune with their true inner nature, but they're not sure where to start. We've all heard masters and spiritual teachers say again and again, "follow your excitement," and "follow your bliss!" But when it comes to applying that advice in life practically, how can we discern what our excitement and bliss actually is?

In a world gone commercial, where we're encouraged to watch the latest movies and lust after the most popular consumer products, it's hard to discern a passion unrelated to societal peer pressure. We're indoctrinated into thinking that our excitement should revolve around the latest trends, but when we try to keep up to date wearing the latest fashions, buying the newest gadgets, and watching the most popular television shows, we often feel overwhelmed and empty, because none of these things are truly related to our own genuine inner space; they are borrowed desires, not natural ones. Even when outwardly it seems a person is "keeping up" with the pop culture world, a part of them knows, inwardly, that something about it feels wrong. The inner alarm bells go off, and he or she experiences an intense urge to start doing what's actually right. Thus begins the quest to discern life's calling.

A calling is a unique knowing of what must be done in life in order to feel fulfilled. For example, some people excel and enjoy living their lives as writers, counsellors, teachers, doctors, engineers, architects, dancers, choreographers, nuns and priests, sannyasis and sannyasinis, paramedics, musicians, gardeners, chefs, mothers, fathers and more! We can tell that this is their calling by the joy with which they describe their professions. Likewise, many enjoy hobbies like gardening, flower arranging, origami, dog training, quilting, colouring, baking... Hobbies, too, can be a part of a person's calling, and often, hobbies can become lucrative pastimes, often eventually replacing the "job" once worked to support the hobby.

And yet, many people fall into a slump of frustration at the thought of the work they do because they're not expressing the joy of their passion, nor even sharing their understanding, but instead, are jumping through hoops laid out by others with whom they don't even agree just to pay bills. A block has been built up in the minds of many that when people grow up, they must stop doing what's fun, and instead, start working for a living. When they're not working, instead of enjoying fulfilling hobbies, many people exhaustedly flop onto the couch and watch television or read magazines, or play video games, because they simply lack the motivation to do anything else, and besides that, feel mentally and emotionally exhausted after a day at a much maligned job. Some people have asked me, "does everyone necessarily even have a passion?" because they can't seem to find anything that really drives their inspiration. The answer, of course, is "yes!" Everyone has a passion; everyone has something they love to do and that excites them to share with others. Simply, we, as a society, have forgotten that because it's we have been conditioned into thinking distraction is better than living; that watching characters interact on a screen is better than living our lives. That picking outfits from the pages of glossy magazines is better than sewing our own and developing a creative style. That hobbies and pastimes are reserved for children and the retired, and even then, only to those lucky souls who "find" their creativity and excitement.

How does one overcome this conditioning and live his or her true excitement in life? How does one discern the hobbies, jobs and expressions that form the prarabdha karma (the portion of one's soul's storehouse of karma meant to be completed in this very lifetime) we're really meant to live?

As the title of this blog suggests, the truth of who we are, what we love, and what we're called to do, can be found by thinking back clearly on our childhood!

Right now, even before reading further, take a moment to look within yourself and answer these questions:

(Writing them down on a piece of paper will help you put them into practice later, and also makes a great little bookmark or note-to-self to carry around as a reminder!)

- As a child, did you love to play outside? Draw, paint, colour, model with clay and play dough? Cut paper snowflakes and make crafts?

- As a child, did you like to play music, learn instruments, sing, dance, tap your fingers, hum, whistle and listen to songs?

- As a child, did you enjoy going to church or temple, praying, listen to stories from the Scriptures, contemplate God or meditate on the mysteries of life?

- As a child, did you enjoy writing stories or poems, did you keep a journal, read books, have others read to you?

- Did you love to go to theatre, or act in plays? Did you eagerly await a solo in the school Christmas Concert or other pageants?

- As a child, did you love animals? Did you wish to care for them and help them?

- As a child, did you love other children, and look forward to taking care of those littler than you?

- As a child, were you very social? Did you love playing with friends, visiting family, going to parties, telling stories, presenting things in Show and Tell?

- As a child, did you love to explore nature? To go on walks, play in fields, look at bugs and plants under a magnifying glass, watch the clouds, catch butterflies, hold ladybugs and blow the seeds old dandelions?

- As a child, did you build forts with cushions, make paper airplanes, build structures in lego, make snow forts or makeshift tents out of sticks?

- As a child, were you curious about the human body? Did you love to learn about which foods are nutritious, which exercises help which muscles health, why water and fresh air refresh the body, and how the inner organs work?

- As a child, were you very introverted? Did you like to spend time by yourself, thinking, looking at the stars, gazing out the window, wondering about the world?

- Were you extroverted, socializing and talking to whoever wanted to listen?

- Did you have a unique childhood passion (unrelated to television, video games and purchased toys, of course!) that I didn't list? If so, what was it?

For a few moments, contemplate on all this, and write down the interests that captivated you most. Let this list you've made not be finite, but continue to add to it as wonderful memories of the things you used to love to do come back to you! And, of course, if you're not doing any of those things now, start to creatively figure out how they can be immediately applied to your life once again!

Let me give a few examples:

If as a child, you used to build forts in your living room, and design structures out of lego, you have a clear calling and passion for architecture, engineering, model-making, repair work and building, and hands-on projects. If you're in an office job but yearn to be "making" things, start right now to build in your spare time! This could mean anything from refurbishing furniture for your home, to making toys for little ones whom you know, to even signing up for classes more in line with the field of work you're more passionate about doing!

If as a child you loved stories and books, and you kept a journal, but now, you're working as a salesperson, start writing again! Either journal, write poems, or even start a blog where others can peruse the things you're keen to share. Thanks to the internet, everybody can be a writer now, and have interaction with readers! (I can tell you from my own first-hand experience even with this blog here, it's a very fulfilling feeling to share something, and later discover that others have benefited from it!)

If as a child, you were passionate about health and the workings of the human body, yet now you're job is in law or something totally unrelated, it may prove exciting and inspiring for you to look into medical hobbies once again! Research more about nutrition, exercise, and put to practice what you learn. As with the suggestion to those engineers-to-be, you may even consider going back to school and learning a form of healing practice, whether it be medicine, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, or even massage therapy, herbal treatments, colour therapy, aromatherapy, etc.

Basically, my point in this writing and advice to you is this: if you feel like you're not doing what you're meant to do, and wish to start living more in tune with your true self, know that you can really find and live your calling. You can reconnect with yourself and with your passions. With the right effort and belief in yourself, anything you loved doing as a child, and dreamed of doing "when you grow up," you can start doing now. Begin as a hobby, and let it evolve!

In this list you make of things you loved doing most as a little one, before the pressure to get graded and pass in school, or earn money to pay your way in the life as an adult, were imposed upon you and started to drive your motivation, you can find the key to your life! By expressing your genuine passions, you will discover what it is to be yourself, and to contribute something unique to the world!

When in doubt, and if you're having trouble remembering clearly what you loved doing as a little one, go through an old family photo album! Ask your parents to share with you what they remember you doing, and consider how it can be applied now.

Also, I'm not just saying all this as a hypothesis. Truly, I know that the passions people have in their youth evolve into and represent the path they are meant to live in life. In these photos taken by my dear mother, you can clearly see the parallel between my childhood passions and my life's work:



Then: in the above picture was taken the very first time I held a felt pen. From that moment on throughout my childhood and even my teen years, one of my absolute favourite things to do was draw. 

Now: as a way to bring that lifelong passion for art into my adult life, I've published four art books- two colouring books, and two collector books filled with lines, dots, swirls and sweeps of design that I love to make, and that inspire others to become artists, too. 

(Check out my Colouring Club for more!)


Then: After drawing, music (especially spontaneous piano composition!) was my next creative childhood passion! 

Now: This has been carried into my adulthood through simply continuing to do it! (Not professionally or for profit, but as a hobby, outside of my writing and speaking career. Two videos featuring my compositions can be found on YouTube here.) (The lovely painting in the background is my auntie Mary Lynn, which she painted from one of her own childhood photos when she was in university.)


Then: I loved God with a passion for as long as I can remember. Truly, from the first time my mum taught me a bed-time prayer, thoughts of God were never far from my young little mind. In my earliest years, instead of thinking of Sunday Mass as a chore or an interruption in the weekend, I thought of it as a joyful celebration, and I dreamed of one day becoming an alter server. I would make my own pretend alter server paraphernalia, including two faux-candles, a large cross on a pole, and a rope belt with a white towel for a robe, and dressing in these, would solemnly march up and down my grandparents' corridor. When older relatives asked what I was doing, I told them that I was practicing so that one day, when the time came for me to serve God myself, I would be prepared. Also, at the age of 5, my grandad once invited me to choose anything I wanted from a drawer full of goodies that included toys, costume jewellery and books. Instead of those things that would appeal to most other little ones, my heart delighted in a simply blue beaded Rosary. I had seen a larger one like it in the hands of the statue of Mother Mary at church, and had often wondered what these wondrous beads were for. My grandad explained that they were for praying, and that very day, taught me to use it to count my prayers, which I did from then on- sometimes with family or at church, and other times, secretly in my room. At around that same time, I was given one of my first visions of my own future: while kneeling and praying, I saw myself as a grown woman, sitting on a stage with a basket full of rosaries. People came to me in a line, and one by one, I hugged them, and handed them a rosary. 

Now: Obviously, my entire life's work is dedicated to God, and done in surrender to God. I've had others- YouTube viewers and people who have attended my live programs- tell me, without knowing of my vision, that they have dreamed of or inwardly seen the same thing that I saw in my earliest prayers- the stage, the basket of rosaries (sometimes appearing in the visions of others as roses) and the lineup of people receiving hugs. I've partially fulfilled that vision by sharing a YouTube video about the practice of the sacred rosarian prayer, and have sent out and given away over fifty free Rosaries since that video's debut. One day, the full vision will also come to actualization once an ashram has been built. Besides that, the books I've written, blog posts, YouTube videos, and counselling sessions I've given, are all expressions of that same childhood spiritual passion. Truly, what I loved most as a child has become not only my livelihood, but my very life!


Then: and finally, as a little girl, I loved animals. (Here you can see me with my dear little friend Snoops peeking out from within my school bag.) At around the age of 7 or 8, on a fateful road trip from my hometown of Lethbridge to visit an uncle of mine who lived in Consort, Alberta, I made the association that the cows in the fields whom I saw out my car window were animals who had feelings and expressed love just as my beloved kitties, Snoops and her fluffy, cuddly brother, Sneaky, who was my childhood best friend and dearest little sweetie (about whom I'll write an entire blog post one day,) did. At that age, I first decided to stop eating meat, which I could only ever think of as being the cut up pieces of dead animals. 

In fact, I remember telling my mum in the car, "Do the cows die of natural causes and then get turned into hamburgers, or does the farmer kill them?" She replied, "The farmers kill them." Crying, I answered, "Then I'll never eat meat again!" I felt as if my whole world view had suddenly turned upside down, and people, whom previously I had loved, had all lied to me- that they were all merciless killers. Even while I was thinking thus, my dear mum who was yet  living in a world where renouncing meat was almost unheard of, was saying, "No way, it's not healthy, and not possible! No daughter of mine is going to become a vegetarian!" I replied, "I don't want to become a vegetarian! I don't even know what that is. But I will never, ever, eat meat again!" I lived the next couple of years of my life secretly picking meat off my plate and putting it back in the pots, until finally, at the age of 10, she allowed me to cut out all meat but fish. At 12, I became a true lacto-ovo vegetarian, omitting the fish and seafood, then at late 13, right before turning 14, became vegan. (When, thanks for an interview I had seen of Daniel Johns, I "Googled" the word "vegan" to find out why people gave up eggs and dairy, also, and knew, instantly, that I couldn't live with myself if I continued to support those industries.)

I decided very early on that somehow, I would dedicate my life to spreading the good news of the possibility to live without causing death to others through dietary and lifestyle choice. 

Now: Of course, throughout my adult years, I've stuck with this intention, and speak often about the health benefits, environmental benefits, and of course, animal welfare reasons, that support a vegan diet. Without "pushing" this on others, it makes my heart sing when viewers, readers and program participants of mine write to me thanking me for inspiring them to switch to a pure veg lifestyle!

So, as you can see from this little pictorial tour of my early years, it is not only possible to have the same enthusiasm in adulthood as in childhood, but also, it is the best possible way to live a fulfilled life! I can't imagine doing any kind of "work" that doesn't fit in with my inner space and inner ideals, and truly, I promise you, if I can do this- live the truth of what I love- then anyone can! All you have to do is rediscover your joy, then start living it once again.

May you, also, discover (or rediscover!) your childhood passions, and put them into practice! 

You CAN make a living doing what you love, and truly, if you are reading these words now, then this message is for you. Yes, Y.O.U. It's time to be yourself to the fullest, add your colour to this global rainbow, share your uniqueness with everyone around you, and fulfill your "prarabdha karma," the calling you brought into this life!

For more information on discerning your calling and finding the kind of work that really fulfills you, read my exciting new book, "Free Yourself." I've dedicated half a chapter to living a life structured around true joy and the expression of true talents, and overcoming borrowed societal ideas of work  in order to truly flourish. Don't miss out- this book is my blog + my YouTube channel x a thousand!


May your life be an ever unfolding journey of discovery, rediscovery, and connection to the Almighty!

With Love and Light always,

Sudevi

The colouring books and art books mentioned can be found here:









6 comments:

  1. What a beautiful coincidence, Sudevi... yesterday night I did an open mic where the theme was "the mind of a child." I performed a monologue about a conversation with my Inner Child, and the concept of the Inner Child has been on my mind for weeks. You've just reminded me why it's so important to keep listening to my tiny younger self :)

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  2. Awesome synchronicity, Cailen!

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  3. I actuly love reading through this blog.Thanks a lot.
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  4. Thank you Sudevi - your book "Free Yourself..." is the greatest gift I could give myself this Christmas.
    I hope to meet you one day-see you then.
    Thanks

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  5. vijnana-nadi kunja-grihe- manjula-pulinaika-manjutara-talpe- sete kopi yatindrah- samarasa-sukha-bodha-vastu-nistandrah
    He no longer takes; he gives. Bringing us wisdom and joy like some supernal sun and moon, cooling the consuming fire of passion like the breeze of heaven, he realizes for us the transcendent glory that is symbolized by the song of the cuckoo, the dance of the peacock, the serenity of the swan. He knows samadhi with and without object, he has practiced tapas and vairagya; he has borne without resentment the jeers and flouts of the ignorant. But all that is past. He neither praises nor blames neither rejects nor requests. He is always and everywhere at home, nothing is alien to him. He is the king established in his own kingdom, the Peace that passeth understanding; he who, being nothing is everything:

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  6. Suresh Krishnan Iyer, _/|\_ This is the most beautiful verse and translation expressing the qualities of an enlightened being I've ever read. Thank you for posting!

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