Karma Yoga perpetuates a higher level of spirituality
Third in a five-part series on the Paths of Yoga
Jessica Sanders and Amal Karl
Kapiti Coast and Auckland, September 17, 2022
Karma Yoga is one of the spiritual paths based on the “Yoga of Action”.
Karma is both an action and the result of that action. What we experience today is the result of our Karma created by previous actions, the concept that you reap what you sow.
We all tend to work with the expectation of future results.
From a spiritual perspective, our desires can be insatiable and often unattainable, invariably leading to feelings of disappointment. By wanting to satisfy our own expectations, we create new chains of cause and effect that can ultimately weigh us down.
With the help of the practice of Karma Yoga, we have the power to break this pattern and open ourselves to greater happiness and satisfaction.
Principles of Karma Yoga
Stock: The first principle is a commitment to act for the good of others and our society. As we move down this path, we will notice that our relationships with people will become more positive and harmonious.
Non-waiting: To undertake an activity without being preoccupied or obsessed with personal rewards is to perform actions with a neutral attitude towards results. This detachment from the results of action will dissolve the karmic seeds.
If the results are there, we must try to remain balanced in our emotions, so as not to be too elated. Conversely, if the results are not as expected, we should not feel discouraged.
As we continue on the path of Karma Yoga, we will find that our desires for what we want from our world will change from demands to expectations, to preferences, to a simple desire to experience something new. As this happens, our contentment and the joy we experience in life grows.
Meditative awareness: Karma Yoga is the Yoga of dynamic meditation and involves performing every task with meditative awareness. Being present in action and observing but not reacting to distracting thoughts are essential here. With this mindset, we can see that thought, speech, and movement are all part of the action.
Swadharma: Practicing one’s own dharma, which includes an individual’s unique duties, responsibilities and righteousness based on their way of life. These are unique because we are all born with our own innate traits, natures and abilities – and the closer we come to harmonizing our activities in this direction, the happier and more uplifting our lives will be.
Equanimity: Maintaining balance of mind and emotions in success or failure, praise or criticism, or any other positive or negative situation in life is essential for the harmonious conduct of Karma Yoga.
Positive attitude: We can strive to promote our positive attitudes and ignore the negative ones. One way to do this is to “count our blessings” or practice gratitude.
If things are difficult, remember that they could be much worse. Adopting Pranayama (breathing exercises) can help balance the airflow between our nostrils, which helps in achieving a balanced attitude.
When air flows through a single nostril, the cerebral hemisphere on the opposite side is activated and the hemisphere on the same side is deactivated. Activating the left hemisphere makes us experience optimism, while activating the right hemisphere makes us experience pessimism.
Aim for excellence: Whatever we do, we have to give our best. As we work on our Karma Yoga path, excellence will naturally occur as our concentration, observation and expansion of consciousness develops.
Not-me state: The realization that we are not the actor, we are not indispensable.
When we instill humility into our actions and reduce our attachments to ego, a wonderful feeling is revealed – the work flows as if guided by a higher force. We find that everything we need for work comes our way, and everyone who needs help arrives at exactly the right time. Some call it divine grace.
Initially, the practice of Karma Yoga may seem overwhelming as it combines several concepts of thought and action listed above.
However, even small incremental changes have a ripple effect.
Since the future is not set in stone, it is empowering to know that we can change the course of our lives in the way we exercise our choices, thoughts, and actions today.
Karma Yoga based on selfless action is the ultimate anti-stress that allows us to reach a higher level of spirituality. Through Karma Yoga, all life becomes a celebration, for it is one at this high level with Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.
Karma Yoga is lifestyle Yoga – it offers a deeply fulfilling way to experience every waking moment of our existence.
Jessica Sanders is a naturopath, medical herbalist and yoga teacher (RYT-200). She lives on the coast of Kapiti. Amal Karl is Group Managing Director of FxMed New Zealand, NaturalMeds New Zealand and RN Labs Australia and a director of other companies. He lives in Auckland.