Have you ever wondered what your biggest life choice has been?
In his book, Choose the Life You Want, Tal teaches that all of our choices add up to a whole life. I think this is especially true in my case. In the summer of 1984, I chose to put my acting career on hold for 30 days, and moved into a yoga ashram - a spiritual community – called the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. I became a Spiritual Lifestyle Trainee for the month of August.
That month became 12 years. When the ashram ended, I chose to continue to do the work I had learned and created there. Thirty years later, here I stand – still at it: Quite a choice!
I’m gong to tell you a short story now, a moving story, a story that moves, about 5 lessons I learned at the ashram – under the umbrella of SPIRE. SPIRE is an acronym created by the WholeBeing Institute of Positive Psychology. It stands for Spiritual – Physical – Intellectual – Relational – and Emotional.
With SPIRE, I can observe the present moment and my next steps – from a spiritual and physical perspective, an intellectual perspective, a relational and emotional perspective. In this way, I’ve got my bases covered.
For me, SPIRE is like wrapping paper. When I wrap SPIRE around my choices, I get a gift! My life becomes more authentic; more mindful; and sometimes – happier.
I hope my story will illustrate some ways that SPIRE can bring awareness and meaning to our choices.
Let’s start with:
S – Spiritual
Living in the ashram was a 24/ 7 spiritual event. Why? Because we practiced Karma Yoga, which means: selfless service. Life there was all about giving. As an actor, I often asked the question: “What can YOU do for Me?” But in the ashram that question got turned upside down on its head - and became: “What can I do for You?” S – Spiritual
P – Physical
My body was in Heaven! Twice daily yoga..... Moving Meditation....Letting my yoga dance! AHHHHH! P - Physical
I – Intellectual
Evening gatherings studying the yogic codes of conduct, the yamas and niyamas.... Or listening to tales of ancient scriptures from India. But most important, I was left alone to dig - and plant - and grow my garden of grace into a tree of creativity. I – Intellectual
R – Relational
We were an ashram dedicated to the heart, offering compassion to our own heart, compassion to one another, and to the 20 thousand guests that annually walked through our doors for healing. R - Relational
Lastly: E – Emotional
We were trained to refrain from grasping onto pleasure and pushing away pain – but instead – to hold our emotions lightly, finding resilience in the tougher emotions, and delight in the more joyous ones. E – Emotional
That’s my mini dance of learnings through the ashram, under the SPIRE lens. It created an upward spiral of energy that grounded me in Mother Earth, becoming a road map to consciousness.
I realize it’s not common for a 30-day challenge to become a 30-year life, and it makes me wonder what YOUR biggest life choice has been. Perhaps you’re inspired to use SPIRE in your choices. Quoting Tal again: "In every moment, we have a choice."
When I infuse my choices with SPIRE, I know I’m dancing in the right direction.
Now, take this moment to pause; close your eyes, and begin to take some long, deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling. Bring to your mind’s eye a choice that you’re about to make, either today or this week. It could be a simple or large choice...... Now invite SPIRE into the your awareness, using these five elements, considering this choice from a spiritual-physical point of view, an intellectual-relational-emotional point of view.
Whether you’re choosing to begin something, or choosing to end something, get a felt sense of that choice from within the framework SPIRE. And see what happens.
Take a few more deep breaths.....When you’re ready, open your eyes. May all your choices be inSPIRED.
Namaste – Hakuna Matata (less worries be happier),