There is a sad picture when we met an elderly person who feels that they were short-changed by life, that they didn’t have the opportunities they had hoped for and didn’t make the most of their days. Personally I believe that we are presented with opportunities every single day, but it is entirely our decision whether we make the most of it.
The Biblical tale of Jacob and Esau is profound. Esau is a hunter who feels that he is going to have a short life, and sells his birthright to his brother Jacob in exchange for a bowl of red lentil soup. As a result, Jacob inherits all of the spiritual and material blessings that were due to his older brother, which Esau later regrets.
One understanding of our birthright is that we are all born with certain talents and there is a lifetime potential that we can fulfil (or not). We can look to the media to see people who are achieving incredible things and fulfilling their birthright, and similarly we hear of people who fall far short.
What is your birthright? What are the things that you – and only you – can achieve on this earth? If the answers aren’t immediately clear then we can dig deeper; what are the skills or talents that you are not currently using? If your career was to escalate on the best possible trajectory, how high would you rise?
We have a birthright in every aspect of our lives – money, happiness, relationships, health and more. The yogic sciences are concerned with ensuring we get the most benefit out of life – pranayama breathing teaches how to deeply nourish the cells with oxygen whilst asana (postures) explore how to maximise the efficiency of every limb in our body.
Every minute we have the opportunity to enjoy our birthright, milking every last drop of potential from our life, but we also have the choice to take it easy and trade it in for the easy life, with a metaphorical bowl of soup. What are you going to choose?
How to use this in the boardroom: are you conducting your work life in accordance with claiming your full potential, or are you selling yourself short? What are the projects you’ve been avoiding and where have you been procrastinating? What are three things you could do today to bring you back in line with your higher potential?
How to use this on the yoga mat: In today’s yoga practice, really maximise every fiber of your body. Take deeper breaths, extend your limbs to the extremities, reaching out through your finger tips and grounding into your heels. Keep this up for the extent of your practice and then notice how your body feels afterwards. While meditating, allow yourself to drop deeper and increase your level of discipline with keeping your mind trained on the object of your attention.
Based on Parsha Toldot, Genesis 25: 29-43. Rashi explains that Esau was pessimistic he would live, which partially explains his enthusiasm to sell the birthright.