Karma’ is a Sanskrit word for actions or deeds. It’s a Hindu and Buddhist concept from ancient India that embodies the idea of cause and effect, action and reaction. It’s also about contributing to a better and more beautiful world. But how does karma work in our lives?
We believe that acting with good, true intentions – and creating and sharing goodness – will always create ‘good karma’. The idea of helping to shape a positive, loving and kind world resonates strongly with us because we feel that this can have a wonderful ripple effect.
How do we practice Good Karma?
Karma is the idea that whatever happens in our lives is a reaction to our own previous actions; it’s an effect of what we’ve done, felt or said before. In other words, all of our intentional actions have an effect, and we’re the creators of our own reality. Whatever we do, say or feel, affects how our lives will be shaped in the future. Karma is all about doing good, not just for ourselves, but for others and the world around us. Let’s think of our lives as a garden. If we take good care of it, if we put in time and effort, it can be beautiful. But we need to realize that there are things in our garden that are beyond our control: rough weather, the seasons and even the people who walk into our garden, whose intentions are different from ours. But we are the gardeners – we determine what our gardens will look like and how we deal with the imperfect and the unexpected.
Creating karma: living with good intent takes practice. Day after day, living with the right intent means cultivating mindfulness and compassion amid the chaos. It means paying respectful attention to loved ones, to our surroundings, connecting to nature. It means finding beauty in the small things; being open to new wisdom; to listening quietly. It also means building good karma: we need to replace our anger, greed and negativity with love and kindness.
We create our karma through …
the right thoughts;
the right speech;
the right actions.
In other words, by focusing on good intent. Instilling good intentions in all of our thoughts and actions mean that we can’t help but create and share goodness for ourselves and those around us.
Seeds of Intention
Why not try waking each day with intention? Try this: as soon as you wake each morning, lie quietly and think about the day ahead. Maybe ask yourself what you want from your day; and think about how you might act with good intent. Keep your intent in line with your values. Your intentions can be very specific (‘I want to give more happiness’), or you might like to keep some words for the day in mind, such as ‘kindness’; ‘forgiveness’; ‘generosity’. This act of morning mindfulness is kind of like planting the seeds of intention for the day. How much we fulfill those intentions as the day goes on depends on how much we nourish them. What we hope is that we become so well practiced at this that eventually acting with good intent is just part of our nature.
Stopping to reflect
When we face moments of high stress and irritation – with ourselves; with our loved ones; with our colleagues – it’s worth pausing before we lash out with the first thing that pops into our heads and asking ourselves, ‘What’s my intention? Why am I doing this? Why am I about to say this?’ This can really help resolve stress and help us to get back on the path of being true to ourselves and being truly good to the people in our lives. How we react (and how quickly) can have a very negative effect – meditation is a great way of learning to calm our thoughts when we feel like we’re spinning out of control. Asking ourselves questions about our motivations can help with the major decisions we face, too. Of course, the answers aren’t always there right away, but we’re sowing those seeds again. Big decisions need lots of thought, so weeks of reflection, rather than moments, might be needed here. Being aware of our intentions also works on a physical level, and one of the great things about our bodies is that they send us very clear signals when things aren’t right. Stress, tension and pain can come from anxiety, anger and upset, so it always makes sense to pay close attention to the effect that our emotions and actions are having on our health. Intentions aren’t the same as goals; there aren’t any results to measure, like getting a pay rise or losing weight. Intentions are more like an attitude or a purpose – and they need to come from the heart, to help us reconnect with what matters. It’s not always easy. But there’s no need to judge ourselves when we don’t always live by our intentions. Try, try again – because developing a new way of being can be confronting and painful at times, but it can also be surprisingly wonderful. And just think of the good karma!
What goes around comes around
Everything that we have ever thought, spoken, done or caused is karma, as well as everything we think, speak or do at this very moment. There are three types of karma described in Hindu texts: Sanchita – our accumulated karma, or the store of our karma that hasn’t yet reached fruition. Prarabdha is fruit-bearing karma – the portion of our accumulated karma that has ‘ripened’ and that we experience in our present life. There’s no waiting in the karma of prarabdha – it’s all about now. Agami or kriyamana karma – karma sown in the present life that will come to fruition in a future life. In other words, don’t get too comfortable, as not all karmas rebound right away. Some accumulate and return unexpectedly in this or other lifetimes. Karma teaches us and enriches our knowledge of the world. The universe wants us to understand the suffering of others, but to do this we need to experience life from more than one point of view. Karma helps us to understand why we did something and what the consequences were; a karmic experience allows us to reflect upon and – hopefully – correct our mistakes.
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