In quoting The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying author Bronnie Ware, the National Library of Medicine shares how the number one regret of the dying, in fact, was that “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
While growing up, I subscribed fully to seeking other people’s approvals, and even went against my own intuitive knowing at times in the process. Some of the greatest moments of awakening on my spiritual journey were when I decided to follow my internal calling to be of service, especially when it meant stretching outside my comfort zone.
I felt, since I can remember, that I am here to give back to the world in some way, to uplift others. As I dove deeper into my journey of deeply studying Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta’s universal spirituality, I discovered there are many ways we can be of service. We can give our money, time, and emotional support to others.
The highest way to be of service, however, according to The Bhagavad Gita, the central text of Yoga philosophy, is through our own personal example of living a life true to ourselves, and to a higher ideal. The highest ideal, according to spiritual philosophy, is powerful soul liberation, which is what I have now dedicated my life to.
Here are powerful practices that have helped me give myself permission to be true to myself, and that you can try to start your own powerful path of soul liberation.
1. Do something (positive) that frightens you. I love how Eleanor Roosevelt famously advised, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” The more I do things that scare me, the more liberated I feel. When we face our fears, we can conquer them, and be left with only our true, divine essence.
What is it that you feel you ought to do, that you were meant to do, that perhaps only you can do, for your own happiness, and for the highest good of all?
The more you can gear your actions towards not just your own personal satisfaction, but to a higher ideal that benefits others, the more you will feel courageous in your experience of expanding outside what may be the most comfortable for you. You will feel happier in the process, and with the results.
2. Light a lamp with the intention of burning away an obstacle. In the Vedic spiritual tradition, the light of the lamp symbolizes our own ability to discover light in darkness, which we need to do to be boldly true to ourselves. We forget who we really are as spiritual beings in life, and thereby lose our power. When you light a lamp or candle with the conscious intention of connecting with your true identity as a soul (not just a body, emotions or thoughts), you start feeling more courageous and strong. That strength is what empowers you to overcome obstacles on your path.
3. Stand up for yourself. Usually when we feel called to boldly stand up for ourselves, someone has done something to wrong us. We have to give ourselves permission to feel any anger we may have suppressed, process and ‘digest’ it by observing it, and then offer a compassionate look at ourselves and the other. Forgiving ourselves (for allowing ourselves to be violated) and the other (for violating) allows us to take a stand in a powerful way that is free from the bondage of anger (which keeps us feeling victimized).
4. Mentally repeat the mantra “I am a powerful being” to yourself. To live a life true to yourself, to be courageous and bold in the face of life’s temptations to blindly win others’ approval, you have to believe in yourself. The true nature of every being, according to ancient spiritual wisdom, is pure soul power. We have forgotten our true nature, and therefore, it helps tremendously to continually remind ourselves of it.
Daring to live a life of your dreams takes a lot of strength and courage. Taking your first bold step to be true to yourself will benefit you immediately, and for many years to come.
Ananta Ripa Ajmera is a spiritual teacher, 10-time international award-winning, best-selling author of The Way of the Goddess, founder of SoulWisdom Press & PR, and co-founder of The Ancient Way, an organization offering Powerful Soul Liberation programs, rooted in Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta’s universal spirituality. She’s been featured in Forbes, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She’s taught at Endeavor, Stanford, and UNICEF.