Your Life Purpose - Your Ikigai
Have you ever considered the connection between your health and your life purpose?
Or, what’s your “ikigai?” See diagram opposite.
According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai, essentially ‘a reason to get up in the
morning’. A reason to enjoy life. Someone who is living their life purpose.
Without reason, meaning, and a purpose in life, our health can suffer, especially
though not only our mental health.
Your ikigai lies at the centre of those interweaving circles. If you are lacking in one
area, you fail to fulfill your life's potential. Not only that, but you are missing
out on your chance to live a long and happy life. That's where health comes in.
There are some communities in the world where people live far longer than most of us.
If you are interested in learning more about this, view the video opposite.
There are some interesting conclusions about the factors that create a long and
One of the most significant factors is ikigai.
So, why do you get up in the morning? What's your ikigai?
While this question might appear a bit odd at first, if you think about it, you may find it points directly at your life purpose.
We all have a need to find our purpose in life. Some people find a way to express it in their jobs, others in opportunities outside work. Many do both, seeking to find how they can best contribute to life, how they can best offer their unique package of knowledge, skills and attitudes.
But life purpose is not about a job per se; it is more a journey of mystical questing than a physical one. If you limit life purpose to a job or profession then what of those who are retired, unemployed, so sick they cannot work? Can they not have a life purpose? Of course they can. What if their life purpose was to suffer unbearable illness, to learn from it, and to share their learning with others? I feel in many ways, that has been my journey.
So what is life purpose?
If you confine the question to, “What is my purpose?” it is still very narrow, very “you” focussed, when our life purpose is usually about meeting some greater need, being of service to others.
So, instead, consider these questions:
“For what purpose am I here this time on planet earth?”
“How am I here to serve?”
“What lessons am I meant to learn?”
“ What is to be my contribution to the greater good, to the whole? To the lives of others?”
"What knowledge, skills, and attitudes do I have and how could they best be used?"
"what new skills am I being asked to learn? Can I see these as gifts?"
“How does my soul answer these questions?”
“What is my role in the contribution to my soul, to its healing perhaps?”
"What brings me alive?"
Those questions take your journey to a much deeper level, they are much deeper spiritual and mystical questions.
At one point in my life, asking “what do I do now?” and staying focussed on “what job should I do?” simply resulted in no clarity whatsoever. The more I asked, the less I knew. It was as if inside I was frozen, obsessed by knowing what job I should do. I applied for jobs in areas in which I was well qualified and each time was knocked back. The Universe was saying "not this way!" Little did I know that I was being asked to deepen and widen my knowledge and skill base, to apply more spiritual understanding to all I was involved in whether at work or my local drama group.
When I broadened the question out to those similar to the ones above, synchronicities began to happen, people showed up in my life, I was introduced to all sorts of spiritual and psychic events the likes of which my brain could never have worked out for me, if left to its own devices. They simply were not on my radar or my ego's radar. I suspect my ego was holding back realising that the more I stepped into the new, the less I would need the ego.
I remained optimistic, lived in faith, and open to signs. One such happened around midnight, on a remote Scottish Highland moor. I was driving slowly on winding roads when suddenly right in front of me was a stag, in the middle of the road. I had no choice but to stop. It was not for moving; it stared, dazzled by my headlights. I extinguished the lights and prepared to wait,. The moon was bold and bright that night, the calm waters of the lochans reflected the moon's gaze, the moon itself, a symbol of subtlety, clarity, and reflection. I reflected, and inside felt that clarity was not far away. I recall just knowing that the stag was a sign, to prepare, to be strong, that things were going to change, and to prepare to serve where sexuality and male energy would be key.
The next day, I read a press article about the incidences of unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV / AIDS in the Highlands. I felt I had to do something about it. Ultimately I established a sexual health charity which over many years served and helped thousands of people, with specialist groups for men and some for women to address all sorts of sexuality and sexual health issues.
In time I discovered that the stag is a symbol of rebirth and renewal, of starting over. And in my case that was true – because in establishing the charity I personally had start over, enter a new field, train in medical knowledge, and have a very public profile advocating and talking on all sorts of issues around sex and sexuality. Above all it call from me mountains of compassion, patience, and pathos.
I discovered, too, that stags, symbolically, are indicators of the changing seasons and heralders of new life, associated with fertility specifically male sexuality and virility. Much of my new work was with men challenged by male sexuality issues.
When I relate this part of my life’s journey, many simply see it as a tale of “man sees moon - man meets stag - man gets new job!” We seem not to have a language or facility for seeing events at a deeper level (I didn’t at the time but I was curious and curiosity opens fresh windows on the world.)
At the time, looking back, I was in the midst of a spiritual crisis, and all that was happening to me, all the synchronistic events were leading me in a more spiritual direction. Most of us are still unable to recognise that we’re in a spiritual crisis so we rush to medicate, seek help. We use psychological language and therapeutic speak to describe a soul crisis. We turn to medication to treat spiritual crises that often present, as they most certainly did at that time in my life, as psychological depression. Fortunately I met a very wise psychiatrist who realised that medication was the last thing a person needed who was coping with a spiritual crisis. Instead of medication she helped me embrace the synchronicities, step into the opportunities emerging for me to train in various health and healing modalities, and to develop my own spiritual path and practices. A doctor way before her time.
So your purpose may not be a job as such, it may be a call to make the world a better place.
A call to action
But just as you cannot heal the soul by working in your head, equally you can’t make the world a better place by staying stuck in thinking in your head.
Back during my stag moment, at that time in life, emerging from a major mid-40 life crisis, I had realised that thinking and ruminating in my head was driving me senseless. It was when I committed to action that things really changed and opportunities tumbled in. I realised that God cared not so much what I did as that I did something in service and learned too that I would never be nudged to do something that I was not able to take on. We are always supported and given, in right time, what we need and that can mean learning new knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Analysis becomes paralysis; what’s ultimately required is action. Grand ideas may make for great dinner table conversation, but they don’t change a thing until action is taken.
As Ghandi suggested, and I paraphrase, you have to live and breathe and be the change you want to see happen in the world. That becomes your purpose and what sets you on your true spiritual path—a path of action and contribution, courage (for as I discovered, I had to embrace the unknown, often, daily, and have faith) – it was a path of congruence, and prayer. Many was the night, in my darkest moments and when I was facing challenges so great because they impacted other peoples’ lives, when all I could say was, “Show me God what you would have me do, what to say, and to whom.”
But these days, many want certainty, a need to know before they take action, and they lack prayer, so reluctant are they to use the word spiritual. Well just don’t use the word. It won’t stop you being nudged onto your path.,
Spending time Googling and blogging and sending out newsletters is the easy part, but it is not courage; the word courage comes from the French for “the heart” – le Coeur – and is the capacity to become a whole, integrated person—to stand up for people, to take a position on things, to be an activist. A bit like a RadicalHealer. And back then, and helping me be radical, I was catapulted into those roles big-time, fighting for peoples’ rights, fighting prejudice and injustice, standing up for people every day.
And it took prayer, sometimes quite openly inviting clients into prayer too if they were willing, talking to them about their path, their purpose, exploring the meaning in their illness. Bit by bit I was drawn into the metaphysics of illness and healing, but the Universe provided me with gifts. I synchronistically met people like Caroline Myss, Louise Hay, Brandon Bays, Susan Jeffers, Miranda MacPherson, Robert Holden, Lynne McTaggart, Deepak Chopra, to name but a few, who inspired me on my way.
Many of my clients were ill and would only pray during emergencies; but together we learned to pray at a deeper level, not just in emergencies and not just to Santa Claus for presents, we prayed for the client to be given courage to face their demons, their illnesses, to face death, to pray for others, recognising that they too were advocates for justice, that they and all the other clients were on this journey together….even though many balked at the term, “journey.”
Thoughts and Purpose
All of life, all of us, we breathe together, we take in the same air and we give it back out. Air is energy. Thoughts are energy. And what a difference we can make if we see our purpose as affecting life energy with our thoughts and action.
Whatever we think of world events, we need to recognise that we make our contribution to their formation. We vote for politicians who make the bigger decisions. If we don’t vote, it is folly to assume we have not made a difference. It’s not just a truism that we can change our reality; it’s a fact.
Every day offers us opportunities at the turning point of life, a time to begin to turn round how life is, to influence the future of civilisation.
You can’t just sit back and say, “There’s nothing I can do.” “What can little old me do?” Or say things will get better on their own—they won’t. Your body may have a tendency to always want to bring you back into balance (called homeostasis) but moment by moment you are either helping or hindering its processes. The same is true at the greater, macro level.
So if you are questing around your life purpose, take it to a deeper level, to a spiritual, metaphysical level. Wonder where the journey may lead and be prepared to play your part.
You won’t figure out in your brain by intellectual means what your purpose is. For that will be the ego at play. And sure it will figure something out but will you be happy in what it would have you do?
You could start noticing the breadcrumbs and synchronicities the Universe lays before you, how many times a certain word or phrase comes into mind, the intuitive hits you get, even the knock backs you take.
Every soul has purpose at every stage of life. Find your purpose and you find the meaning of your life which then gives it purpose. Then live that purpose for which your soul was incarnated to live this life time and you then find happiness that endures, you become aware of an inner peace within yourself, and a deep contentment.
Your soul’s purpose is located in God’s presence within yourself. By meditating daily on God's presence within yourself, by sitting in prayer or meditation and aiming to connect with the God of your understanding. By doing this in faith that the connection is made, you increase contact with God’s consciousness. It’s like keying in God’s number then getting through, God is listening so that God may now speak in whatever way God speaks to you (through words, images symbols, synchronistic events etc) and in so doing reveals to your conscious awareness what your soul’s purpose is.
And it won’t always be something easy or for which you are already skilled. It’s likely to have you push your boundaries, adopt new attitudes, be aware of a wider perspective, learn new ways. In that way many religions would say that that is the way the Universe gives you gifts, in the form of all the new knowledge, skills and attitudes you will acquire.
But first you may be called to remove the obstacles to greater contact with God’s consciousness within you by daily giving up your personal ego and its will to God’s Will and presence. Not so much, what do I want to do today, but what would You have me do and for whom, who would you have me meet, what would you have me say, how would you have me serve? Ask that each day, and notice how you are guided through life.
How do you otherwise connect with the God consciousness within you (remember you are a spark of the divine) … you could make some time to pray, or say the following as you spend some time in meditation:-
I turn inward to the centre of my mind, that Christ-mind conscious point of contact where my soul is in a constant and everlasting state of Oneness with the mind and spirit of God. In that point, which is the light of Higher awareness within myself, I remind myself that every soul, including mine, has a purpose, a purpose that may change over time according to God’s will for my greater good and the greater good of those with whom I come into contact. As my purpose changes, so will my need for different knowledge, skills and attitudes.
In order to be aware of my soul’s purpose, I make it a practice daily in meditation to focus on that point of Light, my Higher Awareness. Through that point I meditate on God's presence to establish and maintain a conscious link between the surface level of my mind or the God consciousness or Christ consciousness within myself.
As I do so, I remember to move my personal ego out of the way. I do so by daily saying that I now turn over my personal ego’s will to God’s Will and presence which live in and through me.
I pay attention to how God communicates with me – through nudges, intuition, knowingness, signs, symbols and synchronicities, and to what initially I want to resist. In this way I find my soul's purpose, the direction and meaning for my life – not this way but that. In this flow lies my greatest Source for happiness, inner peace and contentment throughout my life.
For this understanding, today or any day, I give my thanks. I let be what God would have be, and so it is.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
To explore your purpose:
1.Say the above invocation whether you are spiritually minded or not
2.Question yourself regularly about purpose ...
...is life flowing? Do I feel I am doing what I am meant to be doing?
Is there something missing? Does life lack meaning?
3.Use the answers to find your unique way to contribute
4.Don't ignore your spirituality--it can be a source of purpose
5.Once you know, take the next step--move to action.
6.If the action takes you away from purpose, you will feel nudged
7.Follow the nudges, follow the breadcrumbs
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