Why are you on this earth? What unique impact will you make before you dissolve into the nonphysical? The word “ikigai” is a Japanese concept formulated around such questions – it means “a reason for being“. Everyone – according to the Japanese – has an ikigai; finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.
For most people finding their ikiagi can be a difficult journey. For some people their ikagi finds them, they know what they are born to do – there is no lengthy search required. For others, it’s not that easy. How do you undergo a deep and lengthy search for self? What is self?
I believe everyone has an ikagi, your level of searching will be determinant by your upbringing and the external distractions that take your attention away from your authentic self. Staying true to yourself is difficult in today’s societies with constant distraction from socially approved rules about how life is supposed to work.
Many of us pursue careers that we don’t have any passion for just because we follow the norm of what is expected – According to a gallop study, 70% of Americans are disengaged at their work.
Don’t accept a life of mediocrity, start questioning the deeper meaning behind life – you are free to achieve anything you want. This is a good place to start:
Shift your perspective
When I shifted my search from an outward perspective to an inward one everything became clearer. Ekart Tolle helped clarify the reason for an inward perspective – he explained, “Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose. Inner purpose concerns Being and is primary. Outer purpose concerns doing and is secondary”.
To find your ikigai you must first fulfil your inner purpose and this is to awaken. We all share this purpose together. Awaken simply means to recognise the thoughts in your head and to disassociate them with your true self.
For a better understanding of what this all means, I recommend you read Ekart’s book, The Power of now.
Realise your connectedness
Realising that your true self is your connection to the universe, the eternal guide to all events and phenomena. The awareness behind your thoughts is connected to all living things, it emanates peace, light and love. It is your primary purpose to bring this into the physical world by bringing space into your life.
When you work on being actively present in every situation and every task you cultivate the stillness from within – everyone has access to this stillness.
From this, an important realisation in life can be understood: “The true or primary purpose of your life cannot be found on the outer level; It does not concern what you do but what you are – that is to say, your state of consciousness”. A New Earth – Ekart Tolle
Outer purpose comes from inner purpose
Your outer purpose is therefore defined as what you do in this world but it comes from fulfilling your inner purpose first. Your outer purpose can be anything you want it to be, but realize it’s impermanent and transitory. Through the acknowledgement of your inner purpose first your ikgai will take shape. You may realise your current external conditions are misaligned with your true nature, this process can be sudden or gradual as you bring awareness into your life. Profound change may occur in your work and relationships.
Bring space into your life
Once you begin to understand the meaning behind your inner purpose you can begin to cultivate your outer purpose by connecting to the inner spaciousness that is always present within you.
When you bring forth this space, there is greater clarity of purpose – you begin to ask the right questions while realising the answers have been there all along. You are able to connect with your authentic self, the part of you that is free, creative, and joyous. You begin to understand the areas of interest in your life before you were influenced by the opinions of others and any other distractions from the external world.
Space can be cultivated through activities such as:
- Mindfulness practices such as: Yoga, Tai Chi
- Time in nature
- Anything that involves you transcending your conditioned way of thinking.
“You can’t divorce yourself from other people’s voices in your head until its quiet enough to hear your own” – Carol Dweck
Follow the authentic voice inside you, your ikigai will appear and it will give your life the passion, motivation, and fulfillment you deserve.