The 4 Aims or the 4 Desires of Yoga are an ancient teaching system for living skillfully in your life. A system to bring more joy and contentment, meaning and purpose to your life.
So cool, right?
I’m going to recap my 2017 year through the lens of the 4 Desires, the 4 aims of life.
1. Dharma: This version of Dharma relates to how we live our daily lives with what is in front of us, in all areas from work to home. This year, I see my Dharma as cleaning out the kids rooms and the junk drawers and dealing with all the daily life stuff that arises. Currently, my Dharma is domestic first and when I take care of my home, all other areas fall into place. One way that I show my love and care for my family is by creating spaces in the home to connect, by providing oils for health and feet rubs, by being home with books and art supplies and plants and baking. I want to raise these children with love and acceptance. And, to slow my life pace down enough, because I can and I want to and it feels good to pay attention to my life and my days. My Dharma is to show up to IEP meetings, community meetings and walk in nature to restore whenever it is possible. Dharma is all about showing up for what is real and showing up fully. Not wishing or wanting or dreaming of things to be different but being more accepting and loving of what is, as it is. I saw this show up a number of times this year in my marriage. This year, I was able to see my husband for who he is and I did not spend a lot of time trying to change or fix him. In my own practice, meditation and journaling, I was able to step back and see him and show up for him quietly. That felt like a real gift. Another part of my Dharma is writing and teaching. It’s something I have to do to regularly in order for my own health and well being. I am a writer and a teacher and thus, my Dharma is to accept this and make space for it. There have been times in my life when I have avoided this or not accepted it and then I can feel myself struggling and feeling squeezed and tight or not aligned at all. Writing and teaching is my Dharma and when I allow and accept this as who I am, there is ease in the body and the mind.
2. Artha: The second aim of life is around career, work and money. Artha is how we make a living and how we sustain ourselves so that we can live our Dharma. So, in my case this was a really beautiful and expanded year for Artha. Lil omm is my work. This year, I tried a lot of new things in the biz and behind the scenes. I had a lot of fun and I noticed that although I did not “work” as many hours per week as I did in the past, I was able to make a good living and have a really successful year in my biz. This feels counter culture to me and I had to do a little inner work and mindset work around this whole idea that I could work less and make more and that is okay. That you don’t always have to “hustle” and that for most of my life, I have overworked and that breaking that addiction, in the name of sustainable health, was hard! I also realized that when people ask me how I am doing in my biz, I often overstate negative things or create problems where they do not exists because I’m uncomfortable just saying “things are going really well.” In a society where we focus so much on the negative and the stuff that is going bad I found myself over and over again not really telling my truth because I did not want to make people feel bad about my contentment. Once I noticed this, I started sharing this with people when I communicated and eventually I was able to just say the truth in good times and when I was facing a challenge.
Here are some biz highlights from 2017:
- We moved to a new email marketing system after being with the same one for 9 years! That felt scary AND wonderful.
- I spent 6 months working with an online course coach. I hired her to help me update Thrive and put it on a platform that was more student friendly. I re-wrote some of the Thrive content and made this our foundations course from which I want all lil ommies to be part of! We now have had over 60+ women go through Thrive!
- I created a 9 month mentorship for Thrive Alumni and a Thrive Alumni retreat. I’m building a biz model that is super fun and engaging and serving students over a longer period of time which feels much more powerful for change and healing and gives a really good amount of time to learn and grow together.
- I paid off thousands of dollars of debt still from closing the lil omm studio and over spending for too many years and I am now going on year 2 of not using a credit card in my life. Whoa, that feels so cool.
- I taught over 10 retreats!
- I wrote the Wake Up Wednesday newsletter each week consistently.
- I created a private mentoring model with 10 sessions of deep inner work that is truly life changing for people.
- I hired a graphic designer to help me with some branded materials for students that will really help with teaching and feels a bit more professional.
- I wrote an outline for 2 new books, 1 personal and 1 for LO.
- I presented, spoke and taught multiple times over the year using the principles from my book AND to larger audiences than I had in the past. This year, I had 2 groups over 100 people and that was so scary and fun.
3. Kama: The 3rd aim is pleasure! What did I do this year that was truly pleasurable? Oh so many things! Kama is the joys of life that the text says you can’t really move into without making sure that your Dharma/ Artha is aligned and flowing. It’s super challenging (is it possible?) to experience Kama if you are so beyond stressed about your current experience or your finances. This can look a lot of ways, I’m not saying you need a lot of money to experience joy but I am saying you need to set up your life in a way in which the money is not impacting you at the deepest levels of stress because of money. I coach/mentor a lot of people to leave DC because it’s so expensive here and I feel like they have a better Dharma/Artha vibe in another location where Kama has space to breathe.
Okay, so here’s my list for the year:
- I traveled to NEW places! I explored all over Rhode Island for 3 weeks, visited Salt Lake City with a friend for the doTerra Conference where I learned a lot went to Chapel Hill for the first time for a Long beautiful Yoga weekend with a dear friend,took the kids to Orlando for a family weekend which was the highlight of their year and I love all the joy it brought them.
- I bought a guitar. I am slowly learning to play, very slowly. But, I love it and it’s joyful.
- I danced! I took 5 rhythms classes which I love!
- I committed to my own strength. I started Orangetheory classes because of craving weights and it took me a little to tweak how I could make these classes joyful and sustainable for me, but I have and I love them! (Hint, it involves not wearing a heart rate monitor, leaving early if my hip hurts, stretching between sets, and singing to the songs I like!)
- Cleaning out my office, my kids room, keeping up with my home and making it cozy. Our home is SO cozy and loved and just perfect for us. It’s not fancy or updated but it’s simple and warm and I love being in our space.
- Cooking for family and kids or Ayurveda recipes. Just trying new things and having the space to explore.
4. Moksha: The last of the 4 aims is liberation and this is the spiritual connection to the Universal Cycles, a freedom from the repeating thoughts and cycles that are hurtful, painful or abusive to self. The definition of liberation is “freedom from limits on thoughts or behavior” and I see this unfold in many ways. My connection to Moksha is actually happening right now as I write this. It’s 5 something in the morning and I’m writing by candlelight with my coffee. I can hear the dog snoring, all my people upstairs cozy. And here I am, in the darkest most connected time of the day, writing this to you. I can feel you with me. I feel loved and supported. I also found this deep freedom in the 3 day yoga weekend with Angela Farmer. I found this each week in our Yoga for Women classes. I found this while walking in the woods with Milo. I found this in the pain of losing a childhood friend and watching all these sunsets and sunrises this year. Because I’m checking with the 4 Desires regularly, I’m mindful of these experiences on a daily basis. Sometimes, it’s just running warm water over my body, or petting the dog, or a nap with the kids. I’m also committed to learning more about Enneagram, Ayurveda, Essential Oils and Buddhism. I find these topics to be totally interconnected, super powerful for my relationships and my mental and physic health. I am learning so much about health and wellness and these are endless topics that keep showing up in my life and my teaching and proving to be helpful tools for people living in modern times. Studying these topics gives me great joy, comfort and perspective. But, the more I pay attention to my life the more wonder and connection to freedom I experience. I see the cycles of life everywhere now, they expand and contract and I notice when my own thoughts are in the same patterns and I am more skillful and aware of how I contribute to these patterns. I believe that my breathing and meditation practices have deepened which have created a container for freedom liberation to Thrive. Life is here, moving and flowing and I want every day to just be a devotion to the magic. Not in a “I’m so serious let’s be cheesy kind of way” but in a “let’s dance and eat chocolate and snuggle and be together” kind of way. Liberation is in the freedom to be me totally and wholeheartedly, every day. Liberation is in trusting myself and my life so that I don’t have to have too be so controlled by attachments and aversions. Liberation is this breath, this moment, and living from the inside out, even when it’s difficult or I have fear.
Okay, your turn! Can you map out your life in these 4 areas? What do you notice? How are they connected? I have a worksheet that I use to help guide people through this, if you want it, email me. I also do private coaching on this work, I’d love to help support you.
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. . .a lil omm goes a long way.