“Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom …Our thoughts,our words, and deeds are threads of the net we throw around ourselves.” — Swami Vivekanada
Most of us have heard of karma. We consider it to be the result of an incident or series of incidents that happen by chance that create either positive feelings (“good” karma) or negative or cautious feelings (“bad” karma). I’ve had both lately and the effect was the difference between feeling consumed with joy and appreciation of life, and feeling fearful of the next step and what catastrophe might ensue.
Bad karma afternoon: I was getting ready to leave the house, in a bit of a hurry and wearing sandals with heels. I was rushing through the house with my mind a few steps ahead of my feet, when I fell. My feet slipped right out from under me, and I landed on my wrist, dislocating my shoulder.
That same day, I was chopping vegetables for dinner. As I sliced away at the carrots,I was thinking about the celery and onion that lay in wait when the knife pared my pinkie instead of the orange root, and less than an hour later, with a bandaged finger and my left arm fairly useless, I was pulling a pan from the oven when I dropped the oven mitt on the hot coil, resulting in sparks, smoke and more than a few choice words.
I remember thinking: “What’s next?” Instinctively, I dreaded the next accident, or mistake, that would cause me pain or frustration. I was under attack by the spirit of evil karma.
Fast forward a week or so, I had the opportunity to teach the best-of-all-beach-yoga¬ experiences: a sunrise-full moonset class on Marco Island’s south beach. At 6:15 AM, I was on the beach with my lanterns and candles, full of excitement and anticipation.
There were just a few big, billowy clouds over the Gulf, and the full moon shone through them like a lighthouse beacon. As we yogis assembled our mats in the sand and began our morning practice, the moon did, indeed, set as the morning sun rose over our shoulders. And, as if it were all orchestrated by some divine maestro, with arms raised and masterful intent, a rainbow appeared before us. Just like that, a magical moment of joyous karma that promised this day to be full of beauty and positive energy.
So, what is karma exactly? Where does it come from? How is it created, and does it truly have the power to steer the path we follow?
Rolf Gates is a retired military officer, now a master yoga instructor, author and former partner of yoga giant Baron Baptiste. Gates/ book, “Meditations From The Mat,” is a journey through the eight limbs of yoga via essays and inspirational writings of ancient philosophers, modern-day songwriters and yoga gurus. Gates writes, “Imagine that each one of us lives at the center of a spider’s web of his or her own making. The threads of the web are our thoughts, words and deeds; all together, these strands form our karma.”
Yoga teaches us many lessons, but the basis of them all could be condensed into one simple rule: be present in the moment. What has already happened is history and cannot be undone. We waste precious energy and space in our conscious minds reliving the conversation or the action that we want to take back or change.
With equal entanglement and anxiety, we look to the future, rehearsing a confrontation we see as inevitable. Looking right past the moment we are in, how easily we can slip and fall, or pare out a piece of ourselves that serves us best today, in this moment.
I want to create my own karma. With my actions, my deeds, my thoughts and my choices, I choose to see the rainbow that appears overhead. By taking a few quiet moments to listen to the rhythm of the simple inhale and exhale of my breath, I can be here and now. Yoga teaches us to acknowledge the thoughts that enter in but not to marry them. If it doesn’t serve me well, I think I’ll let it go.
In a recent conversation with my sister, we were talking about relationships. We agreed that as we get older we tend to gravitate toward those connections that bring joy to our lives and avoid those that need negativity to thrive. She said, “If it doesn’t decorate my life, I don’t need it.”
So, maybe karma IS the assertion of human freedom. If we create our own beautiful web, through our thoughts and our deeds, we will be decorated with the joy and the acceptance that is held in the present moment. Without judgement or anticipation, we will be free.
Laurie Kasperbauer is an active Florida Realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. Laurie also enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes.