What is your life’s purpose?
The purpose of my life is to perceive the presence of grace at all times everywhere, and for this to be of benefit to others.
How are you living your purpose?
I maintain and support my purpose through the daily practices of Siddha Yoga (meditation, chanting, contemplation, my daily lessons; see recommended resources below), and by closely watching my thoughts and feelings.
How did you find your purpose?
Something I keep discovering is that my life purpose continues to evolve and has many layers. Fortunately, I committed early on and over many years to a daily spiritual practice, and I certainly have needed it for there have been some intense challenges this lifetime. More than anything else, I have used the teachings of my spiritual path to support me. Without them, the approach to my life’s purpose outlined below would have been unsustainable, for the ego’s hold is simply too entrenched.
Unequivocally, my greatest breakthroughs and heart openings have come from those circumstances where I could not have imagined ever letting go, but life found ways to pry and sometimes rip those concepts away from me. Over time, this taught me that the inner love often has a different plan than ours, but it always has in mind the most direct path to what we most deeply yearn for and is completely trustworthy. It sees the greater arc and purpose of this lifetime.
Having been through the fire and lived to tell, it seems to me that there is a basic misunderstanding of why we came here into a body and that this creates endless suffering and sorrow. Many would say that happiness is the purpose for being alive, and I certainly did—right up until the moment my wife was killed in a car accident. From those experiences (chronicled in my book, The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance—13 Days), I have come to understand that more than happiness, Love wants growth, and that above all, I came here to grow. Realizing this has been among the greatest gifts of my life because it shifted how I see everything. The more I have learned to accept responsibility for my thoughts and feelings, the stronger has been the return of the inner power that one so often gives away to others and the world.
The book is a love story, although it is disguised as a tragedy. To the best of my ability I have shared the truth of what unfolded after my wife’s fatal automobile accident. Following the thirteen-day arc from the moment I heard the officer say the words, “She is deceased,” it is an honest and, at times, intense account. But it is unquestionably a love story.
Please know that the book is not intended to promote any spiritual path. Your approach will look different from mine. Yet without Siddha Yoga, I am quite sure that I would never have even met Seana, let alone survived the trials along the way. And I certainly would not have been able to meet this calamity and come to know it as something else entirely.
I have discovered the most strange and wonderful thing—that hidden within the death of a loved one may also be her final gift to us. And this is what I wish for you—in your moment of greatest need, though the world feels shattered into a thousand shards—may you remember this possibility and fully receive what the beloved longs to give you in farewell.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
First and foremost, I would make a firm commitment to always remember the greater arc of your soul’s journey—you have lived many lives, not just this one. It is also of paramount importance to align one’s purpose with something very steady inside, instead of the mind’s thoughts and feelings which are in constant motion.
The most beneficial approach is to stay focused on the long view of one’s inner reality, or as the great ones describe it—that in us which is always present and never changes. The irony as well as the aha moment comes when we discover that for the specific purpose of inner growth, we ourselves designed our lives to be this way. But because it doesn’t always look like we want or expect, we turn away from the very situations that would have brought about our greatest breakthroughs, saying to ourselves, not this, not this. Sadly, those choices we make from the limited perspective of our minds can sometimes convince us to abandon the love of our life or the conditions through which we would have grown and learned the most.
This approach to finding and sustaining one’s life purpose requires a radical shift in perspective, of course. In it, we learn to trust whatever shows up, especially out of the blue, making the effort to see it as our own gift to ourselves. This takes willpower and must be maintained over a long period of time to bear fruit, but there is no greater gift we can give to those we love or to this world than uprooting our old, conditioned negative patterns.
For example, while attending to my daily duties I watch my thoughts for signs of any attempt to blame others for how I feel or what I’m thinking. If I find something, I simply delete that thought before it can do its damage. I know that finding faults in others or situations I don’t like is a tactic that my ego uses to justify its negative opinions and to blame the outside world for not getting what it wants. But meditation has taught me that these are always of my own creation.
This also entails occasionally doing battle with the very powerful inner mental and emotional impurities. In Sanskrit, they’re called samskaras—deeply hardwired negative reactions patterned into our brains usually when we’re very young. In my experience, we need to have something already prepared—a very clear intention that is our preferred response—to replace them. Otherwise, we miss the opportunity. Habitual thoughts and feelings are just too automatic and fast.
Whatever our life purpose may be, it’s almost a revelation to learn that our approach can become a great and wonderful game—to accept complete responsibility for our own mental and emotional experience at all times everywhere. It is thrilling, challenging, and profoundly impactful. From this mindset, there is no longer anyone to blame for anything and with that astonishing commitment, our life purpose thrives beyond our wildest dreams.
What resources do you recommend?
Of course, I can only recommend what has worked for me, and your approach will quite naturally look different from mine. More information about my spiritual path is available at SiddhaYoga.org. Additionally, my personal website, BarronSteffen.com, has a resource library with many of the books, audio, and lessons that helped me through that extremely raw period following my wife’s sudden death.
For the approach to life purpose that I am suggesting to be viable, it is essential to learn more about our inner negative reactions, the samskaras, since they control and manipulate nearly every feeling we have, and from a tender age. Even more challenging, as long as they are in control, we will think they are who we are. Thus, more than any book, which is usually read and put down no matter how inspiring, I recommend what has been indispensable for me—daily lessons. Along with my daily practices, I have read and listened to my own lessons every day now for many, many years, and I can say unquestionably that without these regular reminders the mind’s tendencies to judge others and manipulate is just too fast. We will be lulled into complacency and fall asleep again.
For example, did you know that the average human being has about 60,000 thoughts each day? How many of them can you remember from last week or even yesterday? If we are so unaware of our thoughts, how can we possibly know how they are affecting us? Yet all we need to do is take a look at the world around us to see the devastating impact of unconscious thinking and feeling. To that end, I have written and recorded three months of free lessons in what I consider to be an essential starter unit. For these and more, please visit TheYogaofMindset.com.
Connect with Barron Steffen:
Book: The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance – 13 Days
Personal website: https://www.barronsteffen.com/
The Yoga of Mindset: https://www.theyogaofmindset.com/
Barron Steffen is a longtime student on the spiritual path of Siddha Yoga, a big band crooner, and a widower. He has been a big wave surfer, a 1980s Italian pop singer, and an award-winning elementary school teacher. Steffen has now fully transitioned from the elementary school classroom to his company, The Yoga of Mindset, where he teaches children and adults how to use their thoughts so they’re not used by them.