Personal Growth

5 Stages of Dharma Discovery

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A year like 2020 will have many of us asking bigger questions than we ever have before. What is our purpose? Why are we here? And how can we live a life in alignment with our gifts? This is when the concept of dharma arises.

The word dharma is a Sanskrit term with over sixteen different meanings, but the one I’ll be referring to is “your soul’s purpose.” Your dharma is your big why, the reason you’re here with all these thoughts, needs, and desires. We were each born with a unique purpose and this human experience is about remembering ours. Each of our journeys to discovering and embodying our dharmas will be different, according to the unique curriculum of remembering all that our soul needed to experience.

Through my podcast, Highest Self Podcast, I have interviewed hundreds of people on their journey toward discovering their dharma (purpose), and found a common thread. They all go through what I call the Dharma Discovery Journey, a 5 stage process of self-discovery. While the journey is not always the same for everyone, we often see similar shifts in awareness needed for this unraveling, deconditioning and blossoming to occur. I break these 5 stages down and the journey to remembering your soul’s purpose in my book Discover Your Dharma: A Vedic Guide to Finding Your Purpose. They are:

Stage 1: Self-Awareness

You realize there has to be more to this life than what you’ve been living. You know that you have a purpose but no idea what it is. Frankly, you don’t even know where to start. It feels like you’ve been placed in this life with no choice and simply can’t go on living this way. You know you need a radical change. Through pain or numbness, you are called to take action and transform your life. This is where the seed of dharma is planted.

Stage 2: Self-Improvement

You make it a mission to improve yourself. You may begin practicing yoga asana, following inspirational people on Instagram, reading self-help books, listening to motivational speakers, or using a meditation app. You begin changing habits that are no longer serving you. This stage is focused on the physical and mental level, more than the soul level. This is where the seed of dharma is watered.

Stage 3: Awakening

Your interest shifts from improving yourself to knowing yourself. You begin to realize that you are not your body or your mind, but rather a soul living in a body with a mind. You are hungry to learn about spiritual topics such as yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, ecstatic dance, shamanism, astrology, crystals, past lives, kundalini, Tantra and energy healing. This search may have brought you to the Highest Self Podcast. You may do some solo travel to spiritual destinations like Bali, India, or Peru, or have the desire to. Your entire worldview shifts as you become aware of the limiting beliefs passed down intergenerationally and begin to do the healing work. Your family and friends may not recognize you anymore and label you as crazy. This may be a difficult phase where you face loneliness but know that you are making these important shifts to come in alignment with your truth. You begin to realize that there is a whole world of possibilities you haven’t been aware of before. This is when the seed of dharma sprouts.

Stage 4: Higher Consciousness

You are out of the spiritual closet and no longer feel the need to hide your beliefs to be taken seriously. You have found the practices that resonate with you and begin sharing them, perhaps on social media or with your family, friends, and colleagues. You know that you have a dharma but you aren’t exactly sure what it is and are still in the dabbling stages. It becomes increasingly obvious to you that your current job is not in full alignment with who you are. You continue your spiritual growth through shadow work, ancestral healing, plant medicine and/or past life regression. You no longer operate from victim consciousness and have realized life is happening for you, rather than to you. You have emerged as an entirely new you and people begin asking you how you did it. This is when the dharma sprout begins to grow.

Stage 5: Stepping Into Your Dharma

Through embodying who you are, you realize your deeper purpose of why you are here. You remember your sacred mission on this planet. Suddenly your worldview transitions from me to we. Your spiritual practice becomes something so much greater than you; it becomes the foundation from which you heal humanity. You are fueled by the cosmos and tapped into universal life force streaming through you. You transform any part of your life that is not in upmost alignment because you see how it is holding you back from your mission. You realize that you are here to be of service and through following your highest joy, you serve the world. You see that you are only a channel for this cosmic wisdom coming through your vessel. This is the space in which you truly embody your dharma and the truth of who you are.

Where are you on your journey? Learn more and receive support, guidance and inspiration in my upcoming book Discover Your Dharma: A Vedic Guide To Finding Your Purpose with foreword by Deepak Chopra, out Jan 5th ‘21.