According to Tejpal (one name only), a healing practitioner at Tucson's Miraval Resort and Spa, every human being comes into the world endowed with a unique purpose. Sadly, she laments, only a small percentage of us are actually in touch with our calling. And that, she says, can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction.
"Until we find and connect with our deeper mission," she declares, "our lives might work on some levels, but we won't be completely fulfilled."
Tejpal speaks from experience. As a child, she felt a strong spiritual pull. But influenced by her family's emphasis on materialistic attainment, she ended up getting an MBA and going to work in the corporate world.
Prospering on the outside, she quickly became the head of the consulting team of a major corporation. Inside, however, it was another story. By the time she reached her mid-30s, she felt as if she were mired in quicksand.
Impelled by a deep desire to find herself, Tejpal quit her job, started an executive coaching business, spent three years caddying on the LPGA tour and, at 41, began taking classes at a school for the healing arts. It was there that she discovered her gift of spiritual healing. Now a much happier person, she devotes herself to helping people find their own distinctive gifts.
Tejpal's inspiring story is featured in Mindful Living, Miraval's recently released guide to cultivating a healthy, meaningful life. A wise and generously compassionate book, gleaned from the experiences of numerous Miraval associates, it details a holistic approach to wellness that focuses on the importance of living authentically.
From Miraval's point of view, genuine wellness entails more than simply being free from disease. It's actually a peak state in which we feel totally alive. According to Jim Nicolai, director of Miraval's integrative wellness program, achieving that heightened level of well-being is less about warding off illness than it is about doing the kind of things that invigorate us.
"If you turn your attention," he says, "to realizing what foods, activities and situations make you feel great, you can make a conscious decision to bring more of them into your life. In the long run, it's more effective to nurture what's good than to try and defeat what's bad."
To this end, the book contains chapters on exercise, meditation and nutrition along with numerous heart-healthy recipes and revitalizing skin care procedures. These sections alone make the book a worthwhile read, but its main strength lies in the myriad insights it offers into the challenging but transformative process of self-realization.
Equine therapist Wyatt Webb tells us that one of the major blocks to self-discovery is the faulty belief systems we often have about ourselves. Living in a culture, he says, that values "what you do over who you are" prompts many people to conclude that who they are is "not worth much." Webb speaks passionately about the need to recognize our intrinsic value.
"As a culture," he declares, "we're trained to ignore the most important relationship we'll ever have, the one we have with ourselves. ... (This) keeps us from accessing our inner wisdom and learning anything about ourselves. ... If we hide our true feelings and invent a different version of ourselves, one who we think others will approve of, we are in fact committing spiritual suicide. Our original self is the best we have to offer to our world."
Anne Parker, a longtime wellness counselor, contends that many of us, usually starting in adolescence, get dragged away from our core selves by the roles and expectations we take on and by our desire to fit in. Fortunately, she says, our "true center never goes away," and we can begin reconnecting with it by simply being mindful of what brings us joy.
"We often don't take time," she tells us, "to notice the little things we really enjoy or that feel most congruent with our values and sense of self. It's those small moments of awareness that lead to those 'Aha' insights that tell us who we really are."
Tejpal believes that intuition, the "language of the soul," can open the door to our life's authentic purpose. However, she says, because what intuition points us towards often doesn't compute with our rational minds, we tend to get stuck on how we're going to get there.
"Guidance from our heart and emotional centers," Tejpal tells us, "comes to us like a different language, one we don't completely understand yet. I say follow it anyway, and don't worry about having every step of the journey planned out. Be brave. Start where you are. Just because you don't know how you're going to do something, it doesn't mean it's not a good idea."