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When things are not going your way, don’t you love it when someone tells you that, “it’s your karma?”
You should know that when anyone says that to you, they really don’t get the whole “karma thing.” Let me help you out here – there is no such thing as good karma or bad karma!
When you are told it is “your karma,” they are likely referring to your past karma, which is sometimes interpreted to mean that you did something bad in a past life and now you are paying for it. That concept is more of a misappropriation of the God-fearing concept that basically says, if you do something wrong, and it is really bad, you will pay in some kind of eternal hell.
Thankfully, the concept of karma really has nothing to do with eternal payback or penance. Karma simply means action! The actions or opportunities that life presents each and every day for us to act on our truth – to be free of desire, addictions, need and wants. On the flip side, life also presents innumerable opportunities each day to act on our desires, needs and wants as well. I like to call this the “game of life,” and your karma simply relates to the kinds of actions you choose to take.
The actions we take during our lifetime has much to do with how much self-awareness we develop along the way. Self-awareness is a natural phenomenon that is enhanced first and foremost by living a lifestyle connected to the cycles and rhythms of nature that has supported our evolution for millions of years.
Yoga, breathing and meditation techniques are powerful tools that help deepen our connection to nature’s circadian rhythms, better health and higher and more refined states of self-awareness. With a heightened state of self-awareness, we then have the opportunity to choose actions that are life-supporting and transformational. By transformational, I mean the ability to transform old protective and emotional patterns of behavior into actions that free us from the need to be loved and approved of, allowing us the ability to simply be love.
How Do Past Karmas Work?
Every child is born without much of the emotional and mental baggage that we invariably accumulate as we age. That doesn’t mean that we are not born with passed down stressors. The science is pretty clear here. Not only do the thoughts, diet and behavior of the mother have an effect on the mental, emotional and physical development of the child, so do the emotional traumas of our grandparents and their parents. (1) These are called “samskaras” in Ayurveda, which are the emotional impressions that are passed down over multiple generations. (1)
As children, based on the impressions we come into this world with, along with the environment and nurturing we receive, we quickly develop a unique personality and learn emotional behavioral patterns that elicit a protective response or a reward from mom and dad. This is a survival tool to keep kids safe and close to mom and dad while we grow up. In fact, a recent study showed that when preschoolers are nurtured by their mothers, their emotional and learning brain centers grow twice as fast as kids whose mothers were not as nurturing –suggesting that we are hard-wired to get their love and approval. (2)
The actions (karma) we take growing up almost always stem from these early desires to be safe. These actions drive a dopamine-based reward chemistry that evolves into more material desires as we grow up. Bad karma could be misinterpreted as wrong doings, but they too stem from the desire to be loved, approved of, nurtured or be safe. Sadly, the desired reward doesn’t always happen.
Take a rose, for example, which without thorns would have been trampled for millions of years. After generations of being trampled, the rose evolved to grow protective thorns and, voila, they were trampled no longer.
As young children, we set out to find safety and security from our parents and, sadly, we sometimes get trampled instead. It seems perfectly logical that these children might develop some thorny protective behavioral patterns that would be perceived as wrong actions or stem from so-called bad karma.
Karma has no place being applied to another person’s actions – it is a 100 percent self-directed concept. So, for example, if someone with some thorny behavior throws some emotional darts at you, your karma is determined by how you respond.
If you run away or throw a dart back in your defense, then you are acting in reaction to their actions. Remember, their thorny behavior is just a manifestation of protective armor they developed from years of being trampled or from being emotionally hurt. The thorns are just a protective shield. Who they truly are lies underneath the armor. If you run away or throw darts back at them, you are reacting to their armor and totally missing the opportunity to act based on your truth and experience a karmic transformation.
Karma has to do with your current actions, not your past actions. When you choose, with a heightened state of self-awareness, to not run away or throw a dart back and choose rather to have compassion and understanding for why they may be throwing the dart in the first place, you have opened the door for a transformation karmic action.
Compassion and understanding are actions that are connected to your truth – your more loving, kind and evolutionary nature. By allowing yourself to see through the window of compassion, and then act on that compassion, you are not reacting to the armor, but acting from your truth. This is the only action that will dis-arm their armor and allow you to connect with your truth and with them on the level of their truth. This is a form of true love, a transformational karmic action – or as I like to call it, the game of life.
Karma is simply an opportunity for you to “do you” and stop “doing them.” It is an opportunity to be free from expending countless amounts of energy worrying if people are liking you, approving you, or judging you. Tough times only offer you a more powerful opportunity to transform an old emotional pattern that may have been haunting you for a lifetime. Soon you will become grateful for the tough times. There is no good or bad karma. It is all just an opportunity for a transformational karmic action.
I invite you to consider how you might be able to apply this concept to your life, or your relationships. Go forth and make the change!