By Adri Kyser
You hear people talk about Karma more and more nowadays. They use this word to describe something good or bad that happened to them or to someone else. Often you can even hear this word used to predict the future consequences a person may receive based upon a particular action.
Karma is a word that has many meanings, but Karma is neither good nor bad. It is neutral energy activated by the emotions we feel, the thoughts we think and the actions we take. These actions then lead to a reaction that in turn creates more actions … and the cycle continues.
If you are a yoga practitioner you’ve probably heard of Karma Yoga, aka “The Selfless Service.” Often when people hear this they immediately think of Mother Teresa or Gandhi — role models of compassion and selflessness. It is true that these people were amazing, but many of us may feel intimidated by the thought of following in their foot steps. If we can’t live up to their examples, should we even bother to try?
That’s why I was relieved when I read a book that described Karma Yoga in a way I could apply to my life. I do not need to renounce my family, my job, my material possessions to make a difference. I read that, while we may choose to believe that the actions of others have the greatest effect on us, it is truly our own deeds that have the most profound influence in our lives. That is Karma in a nutshell, without the guilt or feelings of inadequacy. WOW!
Karma yoga is about doing our best and not expecting a reward, praise or blame. It is doing something for the sake of doing it with devotion and as an offering to the Divine. We may continue to do the same job, activities or service we were doing before, but now we are doing it without any expectations.
You may ask: What about my job? How does it fit into this Karma concept? This is a quote from Confucius that has helped me with that: “Choose a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” So in other words, whatever you do for a living, let it be aligned with your spiritual path or beliefs so it is easier to view it as service instead of a job. You will get up every day happy and ready to share what you love with others.
Now the best part about Karma Yoga is that starts with YOU! I never saw it this way, and I was very excited to read about it from that perspective. It is so easy for us with our busy lives to take care of everything else before taking time for ourselves. We get so consumed by the business of our lives that we don’t slow down unless we are sick. But I was reminded that when we feel nurtured, we nurtured others. When we are depleted, we are unable to nurture others.
So how do you practice Karma Yoga? Well, that’s up to you. It can be as simple as taking five minutes to breathe, meditate, do some yoga or go for a walk. It is about taking the time to listen to your own needs so that you can re-energize your mind and body and connect with your higher self. If you take the time to see what nurtures you, you’ll be able to give and nurture others. As Nishala Joy Devi said, “When you remember to serve yourself first, the service of others flows forth.”
Republished with permission from YOGANONYMOUS.