Yogini on the Loose
Founder and Director, Colorado School of Yoga
Success is defined by Webster’s as the “attainment of wealth, favor or eminence,” all of which can be fleeting. And when the wealth, favor or eminence shifts, it can impact your sense of self and lead to a misidentification of self with your current state of “success.” So how do we weather the ebb and flow of success without losing a lasting feeling of soul success? In yoga, this is called santosha or contentment. Rather than hyper-focus on the results we seek, we focus on the path itself and regularly assess whether we feel in alignment with our soul’s purpose.
1. Know Thyself
This ancient Greek aphorism is in alignment with yoga philosophy—we explore our inner landscape in order to know our true selves. But this practice isn’t just acknowledging your “love and light,” it includes exploring the full spectrum. When it comes to your pursuits in the world, it essential to celebrate your strengths, natural gifts and passions, and to equally identify your areas of ignorance, bias and gaps in your knowledge and experience. It’s exploring both what you stand for AND what you accept or ignore, your offerings and your boundaries, where you find resonance and dissonance. This root level knowing of yourself informs how you perceive yourself, relate to others and the actions you take in the world, all of which impact you to your very soul.
2. Pursue Your Passion
Once you have a committed practice of knowing thyself, you may gain some clarity around where your passions lie and where you may be of greatest service. Pursue this with both gusto and non-attachment to the outcome! Become as smart and experienced as you possibly can about that which you love, believe to be important and endeavor to illuminate in the world. Study everything available about it, including critical viewpoints, stay up on new developments in your field and seek teachers and mentors who can feed your passion. Direct the energy of your passion to penetrate the subject broadly and deeply. This knowledge informs confidence and competence that comes from a place of alignment with that which you know to be important in the world, rather than from a desire to be successful on a more superficial level.
3. Stay In Your Lane
In the pursuit of success, sometimes we feel the conscious or subconscious urge to inflate our experience or comprehension of a particular subject to be perceived as more significant. But deep down we know there’s a bit of posturing on our part and that can lead to a feeling of fraud syndrome, which doesn’t support lasting soul success. Staying in your lane in terms of the knowledge and experience you have lends to a strong feeling of authenticity, fueled by confidence. Share generously from your current wisdom bank AND keep exploring uncharted territory so your “lane” gets longer and wider as you go along. Authentic is the only way your soul knows how to be; it’s your mind that gets confused sometimes!
4. Self- Care
One of the great challenges of following a path of soul success is that our inner fire burns brightly, and in the spirit of sharing our passions and knowledge, that fire can rage out of control and lead to burnout and depletion. An essential act of discipline on this path is to carve out the resources (time, energy, money…) to truly, deeply care for yourself. Everyone needs different care to feel nourished, so tune to that which holistically replenishes and restores you. It may be setting boundaries around access, getting out into nature, caring for your body or any “leisurely pursuit” that doesn’t appear to have productive value. Be wary of feeling selfish—pan out and recognize that how well you care for yourself directly informs how much you’re able to give. Self-care is a requisite practice for longevity and soul sustainability!
5. Play The Long Game
Not a single one of these tips happens without effort, and they often take a very long time to take root. Sometimes life throws banana peels in our path and we slip right into regressive patterns of behavior like biases, apathy, self-aggrandizement, self-neglect and impatience. Playing the long game implies that you’re in it for life, that you recognize the challenges at hand and remain steadfastly committed to your success. Keep in mind, playing the long game while constantly beating yourself up for “failing” isn’t sustainable. Soul success requires both a commitment to and a relaxing around the process, over and over again.