How to Explore Your Spiritual Dharma

smiling young woman painting

It’s pretty amazing that we live in a time when being spiritual has become more popularized; where meditation studios are now trending, yoga studios can be found on nearly every block, and mindfulness themes are ubiquitous. Thanks to the efficacy of Google and social media, you needn’t look far and wide these days to find the Guru or the path.

It’s been a long-standing belief among many that, in order to ‘find yourself’, a Guru or teacher is a requisite. To some extent this can be extremely helpful. One of the biggest mistakes we make on the spiritual path, however, is in thinking that the Guru has all the answers. Finding your spiritual dharma—or purpose—is more about introspection and self-discovery than about following the same path of others.

In a society that encourages competition, perpetuates fear, and promotes commercialism, we’ve long-since forgotten that we are all here to unfold our highest potential, to return to love, and to compassionately help others do the same. We’ve learned to ignore our own internal wisdom and have instead convinced ourselves that we are somehow exempt from figuring out the secret meaning of life. We adopt the lifestyles, practices, and beliefs of others in search of our own purpose. Sometimes it works and we find our path and other times we feel more disconnected and lost than ever before.

Spoiler alert: In your attempts to find the meaning of life and your reason for being here, it’s easy to get lost in practices and promises that don’t seem to get you any closer to knowing your truth. In doing so, you may inadvertently fuel your ego’s belief that you as an individual are insufficient—that you need someone else to tell you what to do and why you are here. Deepak Chopra, in the 2008 American comedy The Love Guru, teaches comedian Mike Meyers that the guru is actually found within. “Gee, you are you (G-u-r-u)!” The good news is that you already have all the answers you need inside yourself. You just need to learn to listen to your internal guidance to find your way.

Chances are pretty good that at some point you’ve contemplated the meaning of life or asked yourself the age-old question, “Why am I here?” The fact is that each of us comes into this life with at least one unique talent or special gift and sometimes we come in with a bucket load of them. These may be things that are natural skill sets, know-hows, or abilities; More often than not, you don’t see them as being all that special which is why they go unnoticed.

How to Find Your True Purpose

Human nature, for whatever reason, is to want what others have and to ignore the gifts you have been blessed with. By identifying your individual genius, passion, or flair, you’re able to move closer to finding your true purpose. If it’s true that you do have a dharma or purpose for being here, how do you go about finding it?

There are a handful of approaches to exploring your spiritual path. One avenue is through mindfulness-based practices like meditation, prayer, forgiveness, contemplation, self-reflection, and recapitulation. This is where you practice a variety of techniques on a daily basis that are designed to expand your awareness with the intention of achieving higher states of consciousness and spiritual enlightenment. Many ancient cultures and religions believed this was our purpose, and in some schools this is still the belief today.

4 Questions to Explore Your Spiritual Dharma

One approach to exploring your spiritual dharma is to enhance your soul connection and gain clarity around your purpose through contemplation and self-reflection. You can do this by silently asking yourself the following questions each morning while sitting upright with eyes closed, breathing deeply, and simply allowing the answers to flow forth. For each question, wait 30 seconds and ask again for a total of three times.

At times, the answers spring forth and other times you may just experience silence. The important part to remember is that you aren’t trying to logically answer the questions, you’re simply allowing your inner guidance—your heart—to answer. You’re listening for that soft, subtle voice—the one that is barely audible beneath all the monkey mind chatter that floods your daily thoughts. Just remember that whatever shows up is perfect for that moment in time.

  • Who am I?
    You may not know the answer to this question at the deepest level, and yet, this practice begins your internal dialogue with Self and with the Universe (or whomever/whatever you believe in as Source). It opens the door for you to begin to hear answers that come from within.
  • What do I want?
    Sometimes the answers will be material, and sometimes they may be more spiritual, ethereal, physical, or emotional. Try not to judge whatever answers come and simply allow yourself to listen.
  • What is my dharmamy purpose in life?
    If nothing comes up immediately, you can also ask yourself “What are my unique talents and my special gifts?” or “How can I help? How can I serve myself and others using my own unique talents and my own special gifts?” Another variation on this question is to ask, “What is it that I am most passionate aboutwhat makes me come alive when I am doing it?”
  • What am I grateful for?
    Asking this question each day will help you stay grounded in gratitude, appreciation, and love, which allows you to cultivate a deeper understanding of the opportunities that you have every day. It is about learning how to see your experiences through the other side of the lens. Gratitude plays a huge role in the quality of your life.

    Watch this 10-minute video by Louie Schwartzberg on gratitude. If this doesn't move you to tears of inspiration, I don't know what will. After you watch this video, ask yourself "What does gratitude mean to me?" Then spend some time journaling what you are grateful for and why it is that you are appreciative. As you will see through the eyes of this little girl and this elderly man, there is so much that we take for granted every day—and so much more that we have to be thankful for.

The best part about using these questions as part of your daily spiritual practice is that the answers will change over time, as you change. Can you think of something that you once held as being a hobby or a passion that has since waned because you are now interested in something new? This is a perfect example of how your intentions and desires change as you grow and evolve.

Values: A Mental Avenue for Revealing Your True Purpose

Another means for revealing your true purpose is by revealing your values in life. This will help you to identify what is truly most important to you at the unconscious level and will bring it to the forefront of your awareness.

For finding your true purpose, I recommend that you first do this process with each area of life (health and fitness, relationship, career and success, family, personal development, and spirituality) separately. When you’ve completed these steps with every area of life, it will give you an overview of what is important to you about life. What you are good at and what you are passionate about will lead you to finding your true purpose.

  1. Begin with a brief description of what (health and fitness) means to you. Take the time to define it so that you get to know your true Self better.
  2. Ask yourself, “Why do I want that?” or “Why is that important to me?” Answering these questions will help you to see where it is that you derive your energy from. Who you are at the core of your being is what directs the answers to these first two questions.
  3. Set a goal for how you will achieve that which you desire. Sometimes goals can seem ego-driven, or not-so-spiritual. For example, “I want to start my own business teaching young entrepreneurs how to earn residual income while living the life of their dreams.” If you look more deeply at this, you will find the true purpose is to help empower others to live a life of happiness, fulfillment, and joy. This supports your true purpose and the purpose of others.

The thing to remember is that you do have a purpose, you are special, and that you do matter. 

“You are here to enable the divine purpose of the Universe to unfold.
That is how important you are!”

~Eckhart Tolle


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About the Author

Tris Thorp

Vedic Educator
Tris is certified in Primordial Sound Meditation , Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga , Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle , and is also a regular contributor to the Chopra Centered Lifestyle platform. For six years, Tris apprenticed under the Chopra Center’s co-founder Dr. David Simon, co-facilitating the Healing the Heart workshop. Clearly in her dharma, Tris’s passion and dedication to gently guide people on their inward journey through...Read more