Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance.by Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASc
Tailoring Your Profession to Your Dosha by Kayse Budd, M.D
A dosha is an explanation of your mind-body type in Ayurveda. There are three—Pitta, Kapha, and Vata. You may have one dominant dosha or be a mix. Knowing your dosha can inform your life and decision-making.
An especially intelligent, talented, and hard-working client told me about some difficulty he’s been having at work. He feels a lot of pressure—such as pressure to be productive multiple hours in a day and pressure to execute numerous company goals. This type of sustained focus and achievement doesn’t come naturally to him, which is a source of great anxiety. He thinks he is defective in some way and wonders if he is in the wrong profession.
After a big, compassionate sigh, I remind him, “But you’re a Vata!” I implored him to consider this carefully. Vatas naturally have short attention spans. They think and work in spurts—alternating moments of inspiration and activity with periods of rest and (restorative) distraction. Vatas perform best in roles that highlight creativity, thought, and new or changing directions. Vatas naturally lack structure and appreciate variety.
The Vata personality is enthusiastic and cheerful with amazing mental agility. Vatas are sensitive and perceptive. When stressed, they become anxious. Vatas are born visionaries—excellent at thinking outside the box. This makes them an amazing asset in the right role. As creatives, they have an innate tendency to be disorganized. This lack of order can be a challenge in some environments but can be harnessed for innovation in others.
Pittas, on the other hand, are organized, dedicated, determined, and persistent. They have drive, ambition, efficiency, and a penetrating mind. Most Pittas possess a notable desire to do things “right” (and show others how it’s done). Pittas have passion! They are capable, take-charge people who want to succeed at all they do.
Pittas can lead with warmth and purpose and be an exceptionally productive member of a team. They have excellent focus. Their intensity and expectations can lead to greatness (or occasionally mire them in tension—internally and with colleagues). In a collaborative environment, Pittas can excel by picking up a creative impulse put forward by a Vata and developing it to its fullest potential.
Kapha is the slowest, most steady, and most easy-going dosha. Kaphas are not as driven, responsive, and fiery as Pittas, nor as eager, flexible, and imaginative as Vatas. Kaphas are supportive. They are nurturing. They are finishers.
It is great to have a Kapha on a team because they will usually speak the voice of reason and practicality. They naturally create the structure a business needs to function. Kaphas’ resistance to change, however, can sometimes delay progress or hamper dynamism. Kaphas usually do things the long and sensible way. They have excellent integrity and are consistent and dependable. When the Vatas (first) and then Pittas (much later) become bored with a project, the loyal and responsible Kaphas follow through all the way to the end.
Listen to Your Dosha
Each dosha is dramatically different when it comes to natural abilities, energy level, work style, strengths, and weaknesses. These differences ideally need to be considered when thinking about personal work goals and optimum professional environments. You have a touch of every dosha within you, but usually one or two predominate. More often than not, your dominant dosha influences your work style and preferences, whether you realize it or not.
With so much change happening in the world, many people are rethinking what they want to do, how they want to work, and what their true dharma (soul purpose) might be. This is a perfect time to consider what makes you happy (in life and in work) so you can make sure to incorporate more of that into your world moving forward.
Vatas will likely find this time (and the needed inner conversations) easier than the other doshas because relative “comfort with change” is one of the gifts of Vata. Kaphas generally have a harder time letting go of what is familiar, even if it is no longer serving them. And Pittas fall in the middle. It’s okay wherever you fall. Get to know your unique self as best you can, and try to work toward the goal of evaluating what you really want to do and be in this next stage in your life. Sincere inquiry helps you progress on your soul’s destined path.
Find Your Dharma
What if you don’t know what you want to be doing? How can you figure out your purpose or dharma? Astrology shines with this endeavor, though it’s not the only way. Observing and listening to the feedback from yourself over time is one of the most reliable means of finding your soul’s intended path in life. Learn to feel and follow gentle signs and synchronicities. Observe restlessness as well as engagement. (Are things working out easily or with great difficulty?) Notice feelings of fulfillment or dissatisfaction. What is missing? Continue to make subtle micro-adjustments—adding and subtracting things as you hone in on what is right, now.
Simply orienting toward the good may be over-simplified, however. You are meant to work through challenges in life, as this is how the soul learns. Sometimes a path or person you feel “guided toward” may end up causing pain and hardship. This does not mean the direction or connection was or is “wrong.” It most likely means there was something important to learn on that path or with that person. “Pathfinding” is the journey of life. It is always evolving.
An astrology chart validates intuition because it clearly shows a person’s innate tendencies: gifts, challenges, work themes, family issues, relationship potential, and so on. Some people have much stronger professional dharma in their charts than others. It’s useful to know this, even if you never explore astrology further. If you feel extremely motivated to produce and excel in your career, chances are high that you are one of the people with strong “career purpose.”
If instead, you feel a greater call to be domestic or focus on family or self-development or community/social interaction, then those things are likely part of the learning plan or path of your soul. It’s good to embrace the idea that dharma can be many things—not just financially productive work. Most individuals in this world need to make money, however. So, if your heart’s focus seems to lie more strongly in another area of life, then consider your dosha when trying to figure out what kind of professional environments could be a suitable fit.
3 Exercises for Finding Your Professional Fit
A good place to start with the quest to align with your dharma (after understanding your dosha) is to examine which workplace roles or functions worked well for you in the past. Grab a journal and make a list of your most meaningful professional experiences.
There may be a pattern toward enjoying interactions with a certain type of client or colleague. (Challenges earlier in life often create talent with specific populations, for example.) There may be a natural ability with sales or a preference for behind-the-scenes support and organization. A love of teaching or writing may be evident. There could be an appreciation of a reliable paycheck. The wish for more or less autonomy, creativity, or responsibility could be present. Think about your dosha as you examine the two columns. How do the likes and challenges you’ve written relate to the doshic tendencies described above? This is an excellent exercise for reflecting your values.
The second exercise is to think about past work reviews and feedback from clients, colleagues, and coworkers. Make notes about what people said you did well and also what they identified as your weaknesses. Does any of this feedback meaningfully relate to your dosha? Purpose is a part of you that comes easily. It can literally “light you up” (you become more animated and “brighter” to anyone watching). Soul-aligned work makes you feel better when you are doing it.
Think about whether you’ve ever had a “flow” moment at work—a moment when time seemed to stand still and take on a kind of energetic openness. In these flow moments, you function intuitively, almost as if guided by a mysterious energy or higher power. In flow states, the personality seems to move out of the way a bit, and it’s possible to enter a kind of sacred space with a client or project. Flow is a wonderful experience that causes people to feel energized and inspired. It helps you know when you are on the right track.
This third exercise is very important. Think about what you love (Exercise 1), what you are good at (Exercise 2), and what the world needs (or wants) that you can provide. Many people get a bit stuck thinking their work has to be aligned with their absolute favorite passion. It’s an excellent goal! But, for a professional endeavor to succeed financially, that passion has to translate into something people want or need. This sweet spot exercise is a creative opportunity! Can you think of a way to turn your passion and talent into a business concept, position of employment, or product? Use this exercise to ponder whether you have skills and gifts that people also want and need, even if they aren’t your most favorite-favorite thing.
Again, think about your dosha here. A Vata may be able to turn a passion or talent into a usable idea relatively easily, but they may lack the drive or perseverance to see it through. If they are really committed, the Vata may want to recruit a Pitta and a Kapha whose dreams and abilities also align with the Vata’s inspiration. Ultimately, you have to feel in your heart which way to go in life. Only you can make the crucial decisions. But don’t worry; there is no “wrong way.” If you go down a path and reach many roadblocks, observe that feedback, and consider another way. Your choice provided learning and experience, and that information has now set you on a new course. On you go.
Vatas are likely to have paths that are varied. Their norm is to do many jobs and try multiple different things. This is the nature of Vata. And thus, variety most likely plays a role in the dharma of a Vata. Pittas frequently climb quickly to the top of their company’s ladder and/or reach early success. They may move to another company or another line of work after exhausting growth where they are. If they do not move, a Pitta can become bored or depressed. Lack of challenge and reward depletes their vitality. Achievement is likely part of the dharma of a Pitta. Kaphas, in contrast, regularly stay in a single position or with a single employer for a long time. This is due to their inherently stable nature. Kaphas often have difficulty letting go of a position even after it is failing to bring growth or emotional fulfillment. Supporting others likely plays a part in the dharma of a Kapha.
To all the Vatas out there, look for positions that value new ideas and enthusiasm, have potential for fresh projects and collaborations, and offer opportunities to exercise your excellent teaching, speaking, and writing abilities. Make sure to honor your natural need for variety and tendency toward lower efficiency and weaker organizational skills. Some structure may benefit you; too much will be constraining. Think about and discuss this when you say yes to your next position.
Pittas, see and value your incredible work ethic and passion. You will most likely be best suited to professions that have a well-developed structure, with room for growth and achievement. You can be excellent at many things—as your natural warmth enlivens almost any endeavor. Pittas can shine in sales, the corporate world, coaching, owning their own businesses, law, medicine, and much more. Take care not to let the Pitta drive and determination keep you in a less-than-joyful situation long. Pittas can burn out by relentlessly pushing themselves in a position that is no longer creating the growth they crave.
Kaphas, you are the foundational people in any enterprise. You provide the support and structure that can help a business or project succeed. You do well in roles that allow you ample opportunity to exercise your natural sense of nurturing and grounded guidance. You can thrive in environments steeped in tradition or time, where rapid changes (which stress your sense of stability) aren’t likely. University settings, government, hospitals, or other institutions are potentially good fits. But any role where you are providing backbone stability or support would honor your natural doshic gifts and allow you to feel fulfilled by being exactly who you are. A position with occasional variety or surprises (or Vatas on the team) may serve to keep a Kapha from becoming languid.
Your work is important. It occupies a huge portion of our time and energy. Finding optimal professional expression is one of the most important tasks in life, really. But remember, dharma evolves! Honoring who you are is key to getting on the true path of your soul. When we’re on the soul’s path, fulfillment is an easy, regular occurrence. Using your dosha to help you know and value your strengths, while making compassionate room for your weaknesses, is a way to honor yourself.
Understanding natural doshic tendencies can help you minimize comparisons, release impossible standards, and stop pushing yourself to squeeze into a role that may never fit. Embracing who you are and expressing this self-knowledge to potential clients and employers is something that will set you and them up for much greater success in the long run. Commit to your own greatness and to the greatness of any company or client that hires you. Aim to exemplify the very best of your doshic potential. And if you really want to shine, add the magic ingredient of love. Endeavor to express love through your words and actions to clients, colleagues, strangers, everyone. Allow the work you do to be a conscious extension of yourself. Let your dosha guide you to your dharma and slowly unlock the beautiful mystery of you!
Eating the life you were meant to.
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