Karma is sometimes mistakenly—and narrowly—understood as only “reaping what you sow.” In reality, it’s much more than that. Learn how to practically apply the Law of Karma in your own life to reap its benefits.
Karma, as a mainstream concept, is often misleading. Though some would limit its meaning to “reaping what you sow” or the universe getting even with wrong doing, Karma actually carries a more specific truth. “Karma” in Sanskrit means “action.” The ancient spiritual traditions of the East speak of life as an expression of consciousness. In this way, life is a result of consciousness fulfilling a desire to experience.
The root cause of Karma is your soul’s attachment to the actions and intentions you choose during your life. As an individual soul, you are a witness to your life, even though you may feel that you are the “doer.” This attachment to action necessitates Karma. In simplistic terms, Karma is the result of your actions and intents.
As the centralized consciousness of your own life, you are not only experiencing, but also “producing” the experience from the world at large. This means that you interpret and manipulate your reality, if nowhere else, most definitely within your Self. From this perspective, Karma is a feedback mechanism for what you do and think. You can think of it as life’s way of guiding you and growing you, hopefully on a good path.
There is a lot that can be said about the topic of Karma, but here are 10 practical uses of the law for your life.
Forgiveness is very important to living a life of positive Karma. When you think about Karma as something good or bad, you miss the point. In truth, all experience is positive Karma because even when you experience harsh or negative circumstances, you are actually releasing the need for those circumstances to occur.
You may have undesirable experiences due to past Karma. This cosmic debt can only be paid once the lessons are learned and experiences have been fully processed. Forgiveness can be a powerful tool for accomplishing this release. First, you must learn to forgive others. When someone does you wrong, try to see them as the messenger of Karma rather than as an enemy. That is not to say that you allow others to harm you, but it is to say that you don’t allow yourself to carry the weight of the action.
This one is sometimes hard, and actually a huge step on the path to Enlightenment in general. As you go about trying to spread and manifest good Karma, it’s important to keep in mind that you are not the doer. You are a witness of your Self. Therefore, it is important for you to try to act without attachment. The gift of this skill is that it frees you up to be spontaneous. It can be as simple as making a left or a right turn in the road. Your mind will do its job of considering all the possibilities and lurking dangers of either direction. You’ll have all the usual inner dialogue and concerns. However, you are not your mind. From this perspective, you already have an idea of which way is the right path, and even if you don’t know the outcome, you know which way you want to go. This comes from instinct and a deeper intuition.
Your attachment to the decision-making process and identification with the vulnerable ego is what opens the door for undesired Karma. Detachment from this, and developing true trust in your Self and the Universe, will always lead you to the “right” path. Even when things seem difficult, it will be the “right” path. Detachment has a lot to do with faith, and you’ll get farther by cooperating with the Universe in faith, as opposed to fear.
3. Give What You Want
Giving is important when paying attention to Karma, because it’s a way for you to participate in the “positive” end of action. Here, “positive” is meant as a scientific term, as in magnetic “positive” pole. Normally, people see Karma as something you’re receiving from past actions, and this is accurate in the now. However, you can create better Karma for yourself moving forward by being a blessing and force for good in other’s lives.
If you’re trying to fix something in your own Karmic pool, sometimes it’s good to give or share what you want. For instance, let’s say you’re going through some relationship issues and your friend or colleague “coincidentally” comes to you for advice on a person of interest in their life. You may naturally want to talk down on love, relationships, and vent your own frustration. However, you’re just mad or hurt. What you want is a better relationship in your life. So the “Karma fix” recommended here would be to encourage, inspire, and offer wisdom from your life, with the intent of helping that person find the kind of relationship they want.
In doing so, you are developing qualities that allow Karma to be transformed in your life:
- You’re doing some good
- You’re experiencing your Self as the teacher, and hearing your own words of wisdom about the lessons in your life
- You’re being selfless.
4. Appreciate the Lessons
As an evolving individual, you’re here on earth to learn. Believe it or not, many of life’s problems can be solved by simply stopping to appreciate the lesson in them. Since this is a core factor of Karma, you can create better experiences for yourself by truly appreciating the wisdom you gain from them. For instance, when something bad happens in your life, sometimes a simple shift in attention is all it takes to transform that happening into something better.
Allow yourself to grieve for a moment, but place more attention on what you’ve gained from the experience. Even when it comes to something as grim as death, try to place more attention on the blessings of the person and the happier emotions of the past. This will undoubtedly allow you to feel better, and open you to a higher interpretation of the experience. It is not to make light of the hard times, but to decide what you want for your Self.
If your true intention is to give yourself happiness and love, then those must become the main “colors” through which you see life. Ultimately, the outer universe is here to serve your inner being in growth, love, and health. Even the bad stuff is truly meant to teach or help you with something. Try seeing things from this perspective by asking yourself: “What is there for me to gain?” or “What have I learned through this?” Sometimes this is enough to transform even the hardest experiences into Karmic blessings.
5. Conscious Choices
Everyone is trying to become a more conscious being, even those that do not know where their path is leading them. For the most part, this involves the simple process of paying more attention in the moment. When you take the time to stop and think about what you are doing, with awareness on your inner self, body, energy, and emotion, you are able to make a more informed decision on what your next course of action should be.
You may feel like you do not always have the time to stop, breath, and allow, but with some practice and skill, you really can find it. Mostly what is required is mindfulness. As long as you are always choosing what you feel is best for yourself and others, then you will consequently produce good Karma. Steer away from situations or people that you believe are toxic, and move toward positivity.
When it comes to more personal decisions, try to keep your mental focus on how you feel. Even in thought, a decision can have an emotional component. Trust that, investigate that, respect that. You will find that it becomes easier and easier to live with this way of thinking. In doing so, your Karma will make itself known and lighten according to your efforts.
6. Process the Experience
In simple terms, you must find ways to maintain your alertness through the hard lessons of Karma. The more you passively allow things to unfold in your life, the more certain lessons will continue to show up. This is not by accident. It means you’re not learning from them. Stay alert and aware. Notice the little similarities in your recurring Karmic episodes.
Purposefully seek understanding and the Universe will provide it to end your suffering. For instance, if you notice that you continually end up in bad financial situations, take some time to pay attention to how it happens. Don’t wallow away in the misery of another fouled business decision. Start from the beginning, the inspiration itself. Notice what thoughts and feelings come about. Watch your next moves, the kind of people and energy you gather to help you, and your planning process and execution. Become an active witness of every part. This doesn’t have to be a grueling task. Just pay attention. Your attention and subsequent thoughts are, in fact, the process of digestion. Once you have fully digested the lesson from an experience, your life can do away with the need to repeat it.
7. Transmute What You Receive
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This is a simple lesson for how to deal with Karma, and sometimes even the point of Karmic experiences. Going back to the processing of an experience, it’s critical to learn how to allow transformation to occur in your life.
When bad things happen, there are times when the very purpose of the experience is to add strength to your life in a certain direction. Maybe circumstances will come in the future where you need to be more resilient, smarter, “thick-skinned,” and seasoned. Your current experience may contain a gift for future empowerment. From this perspective of always looking forward, you can better handle the negatives of your present. Take from the experience that which is useful and use it. This simple action can instantly turn what seems like bad Karma into a blessing.
Sometimes this can have an effect on your Karma. Just as your home requires a full cleaning a few times a year, so does your life. Take some time to clear out your extra baggage. Cleanse yourself of unwanted junk that you accumulate in your mind, body, space, and time. Do some gentle detoxing a few times a year, preferably with seasonal changes. All of these cleansing practices are intended to remove obstruction, negative energy, and ama. Besides being a good practice in general, its Karmic benefit comes from the intention of clarity and purity. As a result of cleansing, you will create a benign environment for good Karma to flow into your life.
9. Spread Good Vibes
While going through your day-to-day activities, casually and effortlessly send out love and peace to every living thing you encounter. No matter what you do, project thoughts of love within the activity. If you are standing in line at the grocery store, instead of being impatient, try sending love to every person in front of you. Imagine the warm light of love coming from your heart center to all those around you. In the event that you encounter someone or something that is undesirable, send out even more positivity as a counter balance. When you pass an insect on your path or a plant, send out a silent message of love, knowing that you and it are part of the one universal experience of life.
10. Give to God
Developing a relationship with the Divine is an important part of the path to Transcendence and self-evolution. Having a spiritual life of your choosing is healthy and even vital on some levels to fully understand life. When it comes to Karma, it is useful to show gratitude toward the Universe and to develop an attitude of service. By being thankful and always seeking to serve the greater good, you will naturally place yourself within the flow of cooperation and congeniality within the Universe. When you act as an agent of universal good, good things happen. In this way, you attract good Karma through your devotion to the Divine.
Create an enjoyable daily meditation practice that will help you joyfully give to others by enrolling in the Chopra Center’s online Primordial Sound Meditation Course. Learn More.