Living Your Heart’s Purpose

Posted on December 14th, 2013 by in Conscious Living

bridge_snowAbout 18 years ago, I was living in Vermont and trying to decide what I was going to do with myself if I wasn’t going to be an actor—the only profession I had ever considered. So, I went to a career coach, where I answered a series of questionnaires, filled out personality profiles, and spent a number of sessions trying to come up with a single sentence that encapsulated why I was here on earth.

I still have the sentence written in capital letters on a piece of lavender notebook paper: “My primary purpose in life is to express my independent, articulate, and authentic nature by interviewing people, illuminating the truth in myself, others, and life, and expanding others’ consciousness, thereby creating a world where people overcome their obstacles and realize their full potential.”

To the best of my ability, I’ve tried to live that life purpose. Professionally speaking, I’ve had work that’s aligned beautifully with my life purpose over the years, but there are also ways in which that work—which is filled with activity, travel, people, and commotion—can sometimes be at odds with my desire to live a quiet, gentle existence, close to nature, in communion with a loving partner. This latter desire seems closer to my “sankalpa,” which means “intention born from the heart” in Sanskrit.

“Usually, the heart’s purpose lies underneath the life purpose,” explains Kripalu invited presenter Rabbi Sigal Brier. “It’s our heart’s deepest desire, a subtle organizing value that’s guiding our lives.”

Sigal says that many of us decide on goals and set intentions that are disconnected from our deepest desires. I think I did that when I moved to Los Angeles, the center of the entertainment industry. Convinced that I needed to be there if I was going to continue moving forward with my life purpose, I spent two and a half years surrounded by a sea of cars and concrete, at odds with the environment and my natural rhythms.

An announcement from my landlord that she was selling my apartment catalyzed a greater alignment with my heart’s purpose (I’ve since moved back East), but you don’t have to be forced out of your home to find your sankalpa.

Sigal, who says that her heart’s purpose is to love and be free, suggests that practices such as meditation, restorative yoga, deep relaxation, and various forms of movement can help people uncover their heart’s desire. “All of these methods provide experiences that expand the understanding of who we are, and clear the misconception that something is wrong with us,” she says.

In her October 2013 TED Talk, Sigal explained that, when we relax into our heart’s purpose, we stop obscuring the fact that we’re all interconnected, not separate from but part of the vast sea of creation.

I think that’s what I was missing in Los Angeles, where my apartment looked out on the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. For me, proximity to nature is intimately tied to my heart’s purpose. Trees seem to be part of my prescription. I’ve been back in New England for a month now and, every time I walk outside, I breathe a deep sigh of relief. I don’t know exactly where I’m going—I’m still finding my way—but, as I look out my window at the bare trees and the pale blue December sky, I feel more closely aligned with my heart’s purpose.

I asked Sigal how you know if you’re living your heart’s purpose, and her answer was simple: “It feels right. You aren’t wishing for another life, to be someone else or someplace else. You trust yourself in your life.”

Join Sigal at Kripalu!

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About Portland Helmich

Portland is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She's also is the creator, host, and executive producer of What’s the Alternative?, a series of 52 half-hour talk shows about natural and alternative forms of healing the body-mind on Veria Living TV, a natural health channel on DISH, FiOS, and Frontier. For 15 years, Portland’s been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer. She's been an alternative medicine correspondent for Oxygen, a health reporter for The American Consumer on PBS, and was the creator, host, and executive producer of Journeys Into Healing on Wisdom Television. She produced for HealthWeek and Healing Quest on PBS and was a medical producer for WCVB-TV (Boston’s ABC News affiliate). She’s also covered the subject as a freelance writer for Body + Soul, Alternative Medicine, and Spa magazines. Portland currently lives in Boston and produces other natural health programming for Veria Living TV.
  • banglespark

    Any chance you can share the contact of said career coach?

    • Portland

      So sorry for the delay. I worked with the career coach so many years ago that I don’t remember her name. I’m sorry. One amazing career coach / career catalyst that I’d recommend, though, is someone who sometimes teaches at Kripalu. Her name is Tama Kieves — and she is dynamite. :-)

  • Michaela

    I love this post and it has come at such a good time for me. Thank you so much :)