“The Sanskrit word Karma simply means ‘action’: be sensitive to the results of yours. Every action ripples through the community of souls. Make efforts to ensure that your ripples have positive effects on the lives they touch”. (From ‘Happiness is Living in the Moment’ – inspiration cards by Barbara Ann Kipper.)
Karma as a concept is most often connected to reincarnation – your actions taken in this life affecting future lives. (Or misused in a mock-hippy “oh, bad karma, man” kind of way.)
All very well if you believe in reincarnation, but if you don’t you could be tempted to dismiss a concept which can offer valuable lessons in helping you to live a life in tune with yourself and others.
Cause and effect
Karma means action. Every action has a reaction. Cause and effect. Every action affects someone or something else.
Whatever we do or say will affect others – whether we realize it or not (as I’ve written about in the past, see “We are all connected”.)
We can begin to live with karma in mind by looking at how we treat ourselves.
Show yourself respect and learn to be happy with who you are and what you have (observing the yogic practice of Samtosha or contentment). This will have an immediate effect on how you interact with others as, if you’re content with who you are, you’re more likely to interact with others from a place of love and understanding rather than fear and separation.
Often when we lash out at friends, family or colleagues, or we judge the appearance or actions of a complete stranger, we’re actually judging ourselves. We lash out or judge because perhaps we don’t realize we’re unhappy with some aspect of ourselves, or because we feel powerless to change it.
So create a positive ripple in the waters of your everyday life by choosing to show respect for yourself.
Today’s decisions lead to tomorrow’s outcomes
The decisions you take and actions you begin today will ripple throughout your life and affect the lives of others.
Taking time to breathe and relax every day is more likely to lead to calmer thoughts and actions which will in turn ripple through the connections with your family, friends and acquaintances in a positive way. (They say one good deed leads to another!)
Taking the decision to live a healthy lifestyle will lead to positive ripples throughout your life.
You could decide to give up something like smoking, or to change your diet to cut out refined and processed foods. You could take up some form of exercise, or increase the frequency of your yoga practice.
Deciding to live a healthier lifestyle today will not only affect your own future health but also the lives of your family and friends as positive changes you make now could mean you live a healthier life for longer.
Watch the ripples spread
Cultivate awareness and notice the true intentions behind your words and actions. Be aware that your words and actions ripple through your connections and throughout your life.
Of course, you may never know where these ripples reach, and how the consequences flow from your thoughts, words and deeds may be unforeseen.
So surely it’s better to try to ensure that the ripples emanate from a place which is positive rather than negative? A smile at a stranger. A deep breath which prevents an angry reaction. A difficult experience shared to support someone else going through a bad time. A blog post written and published. Who knows what effect they might have?
Consciously try to put out positive energy into the world yet don’t become attached to what this might lead to. Let the waves flow away from you and touch who they need to…
So go on, choose to throw a pebble in the waters of your life – a pebble which has the words ‘calm’, ‘love’, or ‘health’ written on it – and create ripples which have a positive effect on yourself and the world.
Stella Tomlinson teaches Dru yoga in Southampton, UK. Dru yoga is a flowing and therapeutic style of yoga, characterised by graceful movements, directed breathing, relaxation techniques and working with affirmations and visualisations. Connect with Stella via Facebook and Twitter.