Finding joy and happiness with Karma Yoga
Contrary to popular belief, the original meaning of Karma was not based on the boomerang effect of what goes around
comes around. In fact, it’s much simpler: be unselfish in all your actions. The freedom we crave in this life comes purely from living with an open heart, that to be good we must do good. In essence, Karma Yoga is work for the sake of work with no other motive.
This is not to say we shouldn’t earn money for the work we do, nor that we shouldn’t be paid what we deserve. Our entire society is based on the exchange of money and when we have adequate money to allow us to live in comfort, we are also able to give even more. The Karma Yogi sees the world as abundant with enough for all of us. They also understand that happiness and freedom don’t come from money alone.
In following the Karmic path, one of the four paths of Yoga (the others being the paths of love, wisdom and concentration) we are seeing that all the work that is done must be performed as selfless action. Not because it has to be done, or someone has to do it, which often leads to resentment.
When communities come together this is Karma Yoga in action. Rallying for a cause, supporting one another and creating positive change all show our desire to help our friends, neighbours and even those we don’t know. Volunteering within our community, whether it’s down at the local food bank or picking up trash at the park or beach, are all beautiful ways we can contribute.
Here are a few more ways we can practice Karma Yoga:
• Water your neighbour’s lawn or garden when you are out watering your own.
• Check in with your neighbour before heading out to the store to see if they need something.
• Bring flowers to a friend just because.
• Volunteer at the local animal shelter.
• Donate unused items to a local charity shop.
• Raise money for a cause you support.
• Share books, articles or photos that have made you feel good.
• Pay for the coffee for someone behind you in line at the drive thru.
• Make a point to regularly phone a friend who lives alone.
I can’t help but smile when I think of all the different ways we can practice the Karma Yoga path. I’m reminded of an old Friends episode and
a competition between Phoebe and Joey as they tried to see which one of them could do something nice for someone else without feeling good inside.
Perhaps the evolved understanding of Karma does have a boomerang effect. When we do things for others, when the intention of our work is about serving, when we see others’ happiness or success because of something we did to help them along the way, we can’t help but feel happy inside.
I suppose this is the freedom the wise mystics were talking about all along.
Discover More: You might like Lisa’s article on finding “you” through yoga here.
Author: Lisa Greenbaum, E-RYT 500 and C-IAYT yoga therapist, has worked with many individuals by using yoga to release trauma, find ease from chronic pain and tension and develop a deeper connection to mind, body and spirit. She has over 750 hours of yoga education and logged 4,000+ teaching hours. She is also a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer with canfitpro, and a Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) Global Ambassador.