Minimalist Passion – 5 Steps to Following Your Heart

Picture of a woman walking on clouds following her heart mindfully

So much of our modern culture encourages us to seek fame, glamour, and wealth, without much regard for what our purpose is. These external ways of measuring of success are much less satisfying and authentic then working to live in alignment with our deep values and life’s purpose.

Ancient Wisdom
In the ancient text of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna makes it very clear that we must follow our own path in life.

He says, “Better is one’s own dharma even if imperfect than another’s dharma followed perfectly. Better is death in following one’s own dharma, for another’s dharma brings danger.” (Schweig, Bhagavad Gita: Kindle Locations 1535-1542).

The challenge each of us faces everyday is the challenge to find and follow our own path. We must work to tune out all the voices and noises that tell us to do something else and follow the compass of our own heart.

So here are 5 Steps To Following Your Heart

1. Vanquish Fear –
Very often people know what they want to do, but they are too afraid to do it.
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking what might happen if you try.

Here’s what might happen if you try. You may fail. Every great person ever has failed a ton of times. It just doesn’t make the paper.

Here’s what will happen if you don’t try. You will always wonder what could have been.

Failure lasts only moments, but regret lasts a lifetime. So, vanquish your fear and go for it.

2. Cut the BS (Blaming Stories)
We retell these stories over and over and over again until they have worn grooves in our minds. It’s hard to stop, but they almost never help.

Notice when you tell these stories, notice how they affect you, and then start telling a new story.

Everyone is writing a novelist composing his or her own lives. You write the story. Characters may act in funny ways and have a life of their own, but you are the one who gets to say what it all means.

3. Stick Things Out
This has been the hardest one for me. I’ve always had an easy time going for a new adventure, but sticking with one thing is challenging.

But it’s important to know that following your own heart isn’t always about going for it. Sometimes it’s about buckling down and staying put.

Sometimes the key is to stay with something past the point of comfort. It helps you evolve and creates trust in yourself.

4. Know Who You Are
I actually should have put this first, because everything else is dependent on this. I you want to be able to discern what your heart is calling you do to. You have to learn who you are.

This means engaging in the arduous, fun, annoying, and joyful process of self examination.

Meditation is a great activity for this as well as being part of a religious group or institution that offers a path for self examination. But it doesn’t matter what method you choose.

Anything from through hiking the PCT to starting counseling to living at a monastery to joining a men’s or women’s support group can help. The important thing is you set the intention to learn who you are.

5. Believe, Believe, Believe
This is the first and last step of this process. No one can follow your heart but you. Other people have their own agenda. If you don’t believe in yourself and your own path, they will happily co-opt you for their dreams.

This doesn’t mean that following your heart is an independent process. Cooperation and collaboration are essential on any path. But it does mean that the motivation and the nexus of choice comes from you.

Starting on this path requires believing that you can learn to follow your own heart. And the end of this path requires that you believe that your heart will not lead you astray.

The road forward isn’t always clear and it is only when we step forward with deep faith that we can face the darkness of uncertainty. But I know from my own life and experience, limited as it is, that stepping into the unknown in much more rewarding than staying stuck.

Following your heart means embodying your life fully and completely. It means making every step an adventure. And even though it’s scary as crap sometimes, it makes every moment on the path a blessing.


Doing It Harder Makes It Easier

Doing It Harder Makes It Easier, Girl Running, MindFitMove, Mindful FitnessHow Obstacles Arise
My teacher Hogen Bays used to say whenever we set an intention, in that moment, all the obstacles to its completion arise.

Before you decide to do something there are no problems. For a long time I never really understood this. Then I started training for triathlons.

Tri Tri Again
Before I decided to start training for my first tri, my little commuter bike was fine. As soon as I needed to be riding 2-3 times a week, I realized I needed to get a better bike.

I also wasn’t a very strong swimmer before I started training. But that wasn’t a problem either. I had never needed to swim very far. All of a sudden, I was going to swim 1500 meters in open water. AHHH!

The more I trained the more obstacles seemed to arise. I got shin splints, then IT band syndrome. I had to buy new running shoes. My training partner got injured. The list went on and on.

Don’t Quit
Even though it seemed to be getting harder, I kept going. When I got to my first race, I was nervous. I’ll never forget the sound of the starting horn. Or the feeling of diving into the water.

I struggled with the swim. I did great on the bike except for falling once. The run just about killed me.

As I ran across the finish line, I realized what my teacher meant.

No Problems No Progress
Without all the problems I had to overcome I’d never have finished the race. If it had been easy, I wouldn’t have built up the resolve to keep going.

The world is not what stands between us and our full potential. The world is the path to our full potential.

MindFitMove Practice
Think of an obstacle you are facing in your life.
Write down how you would have to grow and what would you have to give up to overcome it
Then write down what you could manifest and who you would be if you did.

Speak Up
What obstacles have you faced and how have they helped you get where you are today?


All Exercise Is Meaningless

Cat + Weights

“C’est La Vie”
Photo by kcxd

Every bit of exercise you do is meaningless.

Don’t Just ‘DO IT’
For years, I did things without knowing why. I may have had reasons, but they were hidden from me. Living at a Zen monastery changed that.

Before every activity at the monastery we said a dedication. We’d recite a chant and then dedicate the merit to someone or something.

After a while, I stopped thinking about why we did it.

When I left the monastery, I noticed that many activities lacked weight. This was especially true for exercise. I wanted my efforts to be more than just an ego game.

Check, ‘Me’ Out
Fitness can become all about me, me, me. I want to have a six-pack so girls will look at me. I want to ride faster than everyone else, so I feel like a king.

This focus on the self makes parts the fitness industry hollow, shallow, and inauthentic.

I wanted it to be different. That’s when I remembered the dedications at Great Vow. So, I wrote a dedication for exercise.

All of a sudden, my exercise became an act of service.

I was exercising:

  • To have more strength to help others.
  • To help clarify my mind.
  • To live longer and serve more.
  • To support my family and friends.

This simple dedication changed the meaning behind my workouts. Best of all it can do the same for you.

A 4 step guide to writing a dedication for any purpose.

1. Write down a truth: What is it that you need to remember? Something you know is true in your heart, but often forget.

Some examples are:  Anything is possible, Exercise isn’t selfish, I may not do it today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it someday.

2. Write down an intention: An intention is similar to, but not the same as a goal. It has more to do with internal energy rather than external measurement. It’s something only you can judge.

Some Examples are: I will feel more confident, I will move with more ease, I will change my life.

3. Write down who or what it’s for:We never exist in complete independence. If our course is only devoted to ourselves, the pursuit becomes hollow. When we dedicate our effort to others, it becomes much more.

Choose someone or something to dedicate your effort to. It could be an individual, group, or energy.

Some examples are: I run for my children, I’ll keep going for anyone who’s tried to lose weight and failed, I’ll keep trying in gratitude for the gift of life.

4. Write down what you want to embody:It’s not just about what we do. It’s about how we do it. How we do something is what makes it transformational.

Some examples are: I will embody the persistence of a mighty river, I will embody the strength of Martin Luther King, I will embody the energy of compassion.

Now that you have, your four sentences play around with them. Try putting them in a different order or change the wording.

A client of mine discarded sentences 2-3 and uses her first sentence alone. Do whatever it takes to make it your own.

Finish Line

photo by Candice Villarrea

Keep on Keeping On
All exercise is meaningless, until we realize it’s meaning.

Moreover, seeing our motivation can be very powerful. This process helps find what drives you. Most of all, coming back to your dedication will keep you going when the path gets steep.

I’d love to read your dedications. If you want to share it, please post it below.

Here is the dedication I often use:
My body is subject to old age sickness and death. Nothing I do can change this. I put forth this effort that I may be able to approach everyday with more courage, wisdom, and compassion. I dedicate the merit of this effort to the liberation of all living beings. May my every step embody the path of liberation.