Last night in my meditation group we had a discussion about purpose that made me want to clarify what I mean when I use that word. It might be easier to start by saying what I don’t mean. I don’t mean that you are born with one purpose in this life and it’s your job to figure out what it is.

I find that thinking about purpose in this way becomes too conceptual. We get an idea that we then superimpose on our life. And I don’t mean that you only have one purpose. You may have many, or you may find that your sense of purpose changes over time. It makes sense that it could, and even would given how much we can change in a lifetime.

To me purpose is more about being aligned with life. It’s about following the flow or energy of what excites or interests you, what makes you feel alive and engaged. This is more a discovery of the heart than of the mind, though intellectual pursuit can certainly qualify as a purpose. It’s about trusting that what genuinely draws your attention is an evolutionary arrow for you.

Obviously discernment is necessary. This is not a caveat to indulge your baser instincts or addictions. Those things, while they may be compelling, don’t light you up in the same way. With them you’re more likely captivated and trapped. They lead to numbness and a darkening within, and often self-hatred.

When you’re on purpose you’re on the trail of something new that’s emerging. It can be very simple. For example, I was sick for two days. The first day I resisted how I was feeling, felt grumpy and resentful. But in the night something shifted. I came into alignment with the fact that I was sick. I woke up with an entirely different attitude. I wanted to nurture and take care of myself. I made soup and gave myself permission to take it easy.

Ironically, I got much more done the second day than I had the first. I had creative energy that had eluded me the first day when I was fighting myself. By aligning with what was happening, and being kind and gentle with myself, I was brought back on purpose and the creative juices flowed.

What about you? If you look closely at your life right now, do you see a thread of curiosity, excitement, and/or interest that you’re following or is emerging?