I trust you've heard the adage Follow Your Bliss before brought to life my Joseph Campbell and a mantra for many to live by and a common sight on inspirational quotation cards. But, what does follow your bliss mean...for real?
Often times my bliss leads me to places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, India or outside of New York City and into the magic of Woodstock. Those are all the places I've led Qoya retreats in the last year and I often say, the only thing better than having a fulfilling experience that nourishes oneself on all levels of your being is creating a possibility for someone else to experience that bliss. Always, always, always, our happiness is magnified by the generosity with which we offer ourselves to the world. Always.
I recently watched the documentary called Finding Joe. It's about Joseph Campbell, his wisdom and reflections on his philosophy. The amazing thing that Joseph Campbell did was immerse himself in stories, myths and religions from all over the world and then noticed the story line that lies inside ALL stories. He calls it the Hero's Journey and it is the journey we all take. Sometimes we choose it and become a daring entrepreneur like Richard Branson, a creative genius like Bjork, a consciousness expanding athlete like Laird Hamilton (who is interviewed in the movie) or a world changing philanthropist like Zainab Salbi who started Women for Women. And other times the journey chooses us- with grief and loss, sickness, losing a job, going through a break up or some other shift that forces us to change our direction. We may choose it or it may choose us, but we are all on a journey.
As we travel, the mind yearns for a map. Where do we go? How long will it take? Are we there yet? Advertisers are happy to sell you their idea of the "way." Friends and family guide you the best that they know how, but one of the interesting things that Joseph Campbell says when trying to find your way is that the one way you know that you are on the wrong track is that there is a clear path. If there's a path, it's been cleared by someone else. That was their mystery to solve. Their puzzle to put together. Their awakening. Not yours. Yours, mine and all of us, can only identify our way by going where no one has gone before.
And which direction to go and when to go? Imagine your compass as your bliss.
Here are some hints on finding your bliss so you can follow it.
- Bliss is the one thing you can't not do. (I remember in college I started as a dance major and felt there was no way I could not dance everyday. It just didn't seem possible. I had to dance like I had to eat and sleep. What is the thing that you just HAVE to do?)
-Bliss is when hours can pass by in minutes (I always feel this way when teaching. Classes feel 3 minutes long. I also feel it when I'm working on Qoya and I start to yearn for 36 hour days, because there are so many desires I want to create, so much of myself I want to pour into this work.)
-Joseph Campbell says, "When you follow your bliss, the universe will open doors where there once were only walls." (When I was 18, I read a similar message in the rite of spiritual passage book the Alchemist. The idea was the same, when you follow your heart, the world conspires on your behalf. I had the good sense of deciding I would live my life like an experiment and see if that was actually true. If it was, I would continue with that belief and if it didn't work out, then I'd reassess. Thirteen years later, I continue to make courageous leaps that are less rational and conventional, but are following my bliss.)
And what about challenges? What about when you follow your bliss and then there is a dragon to slay on your path? By following your bliss are you exempt from life's challenges? Does everything work in synchronistic magic and feel like you are skipping in the hills of Switzerland or lounging on the warm beaches of a Caribbean island? No. The documentary offers, "Opportunities to know our deeper powers come when things are challenging" and another one of Joseph Campbell's quotes, “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."
This is important to remember as to not be overly discouraged when challenges arise. It's normal to have an adjustment period, to experience the fear, the pain, the temporary loss of peace, the breaking of the illusion of control, but the hero's journey, the heroine's journey, is the epic tale of the soul and the soul yearns to grow and as the saying goes, "Calm seas don't make good sailors."
When you can look at your life's story and see the archetypical threads, you can identify where you are in it. It can guide you to see that it is time to make the courageous leap, time to embrace your challenge as an opportunity to grow or time to look into the eyes of fear and step fearlessly into it and then beyond it. The journey can be challenging and you must know how to source enough energy and power to do it. So...where does that come from? From your bliss.
Your bliss is the thing in this world that connects you to the truth of your soul. You must find this. And if you don't know what it is, you are about to start having the best time trying. It may be taking cooking classes, starting to garden, taking a week off to go on a retreat somewhere amazing, becoming a mother, painting the sunset, whatever it is that awakens you.
Follow your bliss like a compass. Trust that like the sun will rise and fall, so will the universe support you on your hero's journey. And in those sweet moments of your bliss, savor them, savor them, savor them. Also, remember to write thank you notes for all the blessings you receive.
It's also only 6 weeks until the Qoya Retreat in Costa Rica April 21-28, 2012 and we are down to our last 10 spots. If you're thinking about coming, please let me know to ensure there will be a bed for you to sleep in! I'm also excited to announce another retreat I'm doing called the Goddess Altar May 21-25, 2012 in Woodstock, NY at Menla Retreat center with two of my favorite muses and teachers. As always, I look forward to dancing together at the perfect time.