The Action of Karma

The Action of Karma

A requirement of my teacher training program was to teach ten karma (free) classes. Being completely honest, I cringed inside a little when I thought about donating over ten hours of my time, which was already very limited. When it was all said and done, I wouldn’t take back any moment of that experience. It is hard to express the warm fuzzy feelings I felt after each one of those classes. I believe when you give, you receive ten fold.

As yogis I think we spend a pretty good amount of time plotting how to make this world a better place. A common theme to my storybook lately has been karma and contagious attitudes. Generally, karma has been understood as fate or predetermined luck, but can we redefine karma as an action? What would happen during your day if you brought greater awareness to the domino effect that our attitudes have? I’ll take a gamble here and say the days you wake up on the so-called ‘wrong’ side of the bed typically turn out to be a bad day. On the other hand, if you wake up on the ‘right’ side of the bed, you not only take on the day – you conquer it. Interesting how this happens, huh? Our attitudes are contagious. They have the power to attract similar thoughts, behaviors, and actions. If you don’t like the way things are going or you are having one of those bad days, change it. Simply flip your perspective and control your day rather than allowing it to control you. That is the action of karma, what you put out is what you get back.

Now think about a circle of dominos. Any movement caused by an individual domino will have a chain reaction on the rest. Meaning, no matter how big or small your ripple is, it does matter. William H. Danforth said, “One of life’s greatest rules is this: the more you give, the more you get. ” When I think of karma, the first action that comes to mind is selfless service – doing without expecting anything in return. Oftentimes when we hear service, we think of grand gestures such as hours upon hours of community service, donating several free yoga classes, or giving a lump sum of money to a certain cause. The good news: karma is not a ‘go big or go home’ player. Give back in whatever way is possible and available for you.

Perhaps this means you turn your phone off during conversations with family and friends to give those people your undivided attention. Maybe it is just a simple smile. The power of a friendly smile is unbelievable; it can change the entire tone of someone’s day. When was the last time you gave your mom and dad a hug or said thank you to a loved one? Typically it is our closest relationships that go underappreciated, so make sure to set aside some extra TLC for these. Our fast-paced culture, new technology, and to-do lists can easily bury the intimate, human interaction aspects of life. Make a commitment to yourself and to others that you will start digging to rediscover those gems.

Have you ever wondered what your talent would be if you were a superhero? Well, I am going to let you in on a little secret …you are a superhero. We all have something about us that makes us unique. Are you an amazing guitar player, yoga teacher, listener, or friend? Embrace and share your talents as if the world was counting on you. That is your action of karma.

Translating this concept to yoga life on the mat: Let’s say you have been working on an arm balance for the past five months. Alright, today is the day – I know I can do this. Come on leg just..lift ….up ….ugghhhh. SPLAT. Despite the hours of hard work, the pose is still your nemesis. When you finally let go of the expectation to land the pose perfectly, you stick it. BAM! You are now a yoga rockstar. This is one of the magical life lessons we learn on our mat – doing without any expectations actually brings us closer to what we are seeking.

Karma is an action that can be done anywhere and anytime. Living with a contagious, positive attitude is service. Have a smile plastered on your face so big that others can’t help but smile back. Put it to the test and enjoy the wonderful happiness you receive in return. Whatever you choose to do, big or small, is perfect. When was the last time you ‘did karma’?

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