Forging a path through the forest

Navigating life with the heart’s compass

In this season of late forties reckoning, I am re-considering the narrow path of my career in integrative medicine. Two decades of effort have brought a measure of worldly success but have not prevented having my heart broken nor protected me from cynicism as peers and leaders have fallen, compromised, sold out, burnt out, or faltered. It is tempting to look for leadership, to emulate what appears to be working for others, or to shelter beneath a system, role, or title, yet none of that feels satisfying on a soul level. In seeking inspiration to find my own way, David Whyte’s Consolations offers a chapter on ambition which speaks to my sense that a career motivated by passion is really a vocation. He suggests that vocations do not need nor benefit from the striving of youthful ambition.

No matter the self-conceited importance of our labours we are all compost for worlds we cannot yet imagine. Ambition takes us toward that horizon, but not over it – that line will always recede before our controlling hands. But a calling is a conversation between our physical bodies, our work, our intellects and imaginations, and a new world that is itself the territory we seek.

(David Whyte, 2014)

In contemplating the bigger picture of my life, the ‘what am I here for?’ as well as ‘what’s the point?’, it has become increasingly clear that self-actualisation is not possible without ceding control to the compass within. To hear the voice of the inner GPS, it feels necessary to turn down the noise of the world and retreat into my own heart space in order to connect with what makes me unique, to take refuge and rejuvenate, to surrender to the state of flow, rather than forcing productivity.

Here are my thoughts thus far;

The great challenge of a lifetime is to find and follow your own dharma

All the teachings agree you cannot thrive when doing what is not yours to do

An inner vision requires that you first close your eyes

Seal off your senses from the world

Forget the shoulds and should nots

Avoid the well-travelled trails

Open to the landscape of your own heart

Love the scars there that represent unwavering devotion

Rest in loving awareness

Release the hurts of the past

Ignore the assaults of those who resent your freedom

Tune out the distractions of those who would keep you small

Rest some more in softness

Make space for seeds to respond to the light

Give yourself permission to be nourished

Rest some more as you wait for the season to surge

Let the path open before you

Feel into the clarity and spaciousness unfolding

Sharpen your scythe with sadhana

Clear only what is necessary, do the least harm possible

Your path may be eerily quiet but you are not alone

No one needs to follow you, though some might

When you want to quit, take rest again and again in your heart

Trust your inner knowing and it will lead you back to the well you have sunk

Rehydrate and start again

Keep going