by Paige Pirkey
Have you ever wondered how to transition from fate to your chosen destiny? I have, too. After years of reading, reflecting, and searching, I believe I’ve found the answer; and I’d like to share my learned lessons with you in this article. My learned lessons center around this idea called “purpose”. Our purpose is our chosen destiny, but how do we find it?
The first step is to meet yourself where you’re at. We must be open and honest with ourselves. We must be willing to dive deep into the inner recesses of our hearts to discover what lies beyond the veil of our emotions. Under every negative emotion lies a fear: A fear of abandonment, rejection, betrayal, being found unworthy, unlovable, broken… As we identify this fear and bring it to the surface, we’re able to unlock another layer of armor around our hearts by greeting it with the keys of love, compassion, and presence.
The second step is to trust yourself. Trust is essential and requires patience. In fact, to fully develop trust, one’s patience may need patience. Both patience and trust are skill sets that must be developed along the path to finding one’s purpose. Even as I type now, I notice the physiological experience of tightness in my chest and jaw… I then notice the stories I tell myself: That this process is taking too long or that I’m not doing it right… But perhaps, instead, I’m hoping to deliver the best, most uplifting message… If I choose to shift my interpretation of my perception, the understanding and experience of it also shifts, from anxiety to enthusiasm. After all, my purpose, or at least discovering it, should bring me joy. I’ve learned that, sometimes, we must unlearn what we’ve learned and trust our decision making, that we’re on the right path. And it takes patience to rebuild that trust in ourselves and our unfolding process.
The third step is to recognize our strength, our resilience, our bravery! We need to give ourselves credit for our tenacious efforts; again, we cycle back to phases 1 and 2: Meeting yourself where you’re at and trusting yourself. The process of discovering and living your purpose requires time, effort, and practice –all of which require strength; this will lead us to our chosen destiny. By purposefully, continuously choosing to disrupt our old ways of experiencing life, we create a new story, our destiny. This is one of the most loving acts we can do for ourselves –and passing along this strength to future generations is one of the most loving acts we can do for them.
And we can do this together. As promised in my previous article, I will now dedicate time to introducing the pilot project that I recently created, implemented, and evaluated:
Yoga and mindfulness practices are supportive on the journey from fate to destiny. Yoga uses the mind, body, and breath as tools for self-realization and self-actualization. By engaging with a physical pose, one enters a moderately uncomfortable, stress-induced state; this state of being reflects the stress we encounter in our daily lives. In that process, we focus on our breath in the present moment. And in that moment, we discover those repetitive stories that we tell ourselves that lead us to our fate. This realization presents us with the opportunity to choose a different story, to change how we engage with and interpret our experience. And with time and disciplined practice, this effortful process becomes automated and thus, actualized. We have, then, embodied the skills needed to transition ourselves from fate to destiny…
These life skills are exactly what I taught to kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders at a local school system. The school system serves mostly minority students (54% Latino; 38% African American; 5% European American; 2% Asian); ninety-five percent of students’ families reside in the urban Memphis area with 77% living in Shelby County zip codes below the lowest median household income (below $42k). Approximately 91% of students meet the federal guidelines for free/reduced lunch.
The pilot program was 3-weeks long wherein students [and some teachers] received 4, 30-minute sessions per week. Below comprises selected excerpts from this study:
- Students’ post-program excerpts:
- “Yoga taught me more about myself, about what I think is better than what other people think I should think.” –1st grade, girl
- “[When I’m feeling sad or stressed or overwhelmed], I do yoga to feel better, to remind us that we can do anything.” –2nd grade, girl
- “We also learned that we can feel how we want to feel –even if we feel sad. It’s okay to feel our feelings.” –1st grade, boy
- “It teached me how to be creative, like trying the yoga thing made me excited, and then, I went back home, and it made me build new crafts. I used to give up.” –2nd grade, boy
- “It’s helped me learn about how our feelings communicate.” –2nd grade, girl
- Teachers’ post-program excerpts:
- “…[T]hey showed patience… I definitely saw some growth with independence and self-direction.” –Teacher F
- “I’ve seen that change in my students as well; they definitely are more eager to help each other after the program, too.” –Teacher J
- “A lot of my kids took your breathing technique… I would watch them do it in the room when they were upset.” –Teacher A
- “I want to say thank you for creating an environment for my student to be relaxed and calm and to be a kid… I was pleasantly surprised, and it made me so happy. I think he was truly comfortable around you, and just truly relaxed around you, which is truly amazing because you’d only known him for a few weeks.” –Teacher A
To be sure, I learned just as much from my students [if not more], as they learned from me. For persons interested in learning more or collaborating in some capacity on this project, please reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For an audio recording of this post, click here.
Paige Pirkey is a Benjamin L. Hooks Institute Academic Research Fellow. Her current research focuses at the heart of change-making education, centering on urban schools by adopting a bottom-up approach that promotes healing and self-empowerment.