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Karma is a word we often use, but what does it really mean?


Karma is defined as the sum of our actions in this life and previous lives that decides our fate in future existences. However, I don’t think you need to believe in reincarnation to understand or embrace the concept of karma. Another way of looking at karma is as an expression of Christianity’s “Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This doesn’t mean being a doormat, or living your life through other people, it means having equal measures of respect and self-respect so that you can see other people as unique, valuable individuals. When we are able to do this it automatically changes our attitudes and behaviour. We are kinder, more compassionate, more open.

Karma, ultimately, is not about the universe keeping score, waiting to turn us into a cockroach if we screw up, it’s about having a philosophical approach to life that keeps us present, balanced, and humble. Karma can be as simple as the kindness of giving up your seat on the bus and the smile you get in return.

Yoga helps us cultivate the mindfulness and presence to strengthen our karma. Through the breath and the asanas we learn to inhabit and respect our bodies, and our place in the harmony of living things. It is a tool that brings us awareness, develops patience, and teaches us to appreciate the uniqueness of every being.

Read more about Karma yoga — the practice of transforming everything you do into selfless service.

How do you define good karma? Share in the comments