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Spirituality and Karma Yoga

April 24, 2012 2 Comments

I was so happy to hear Oprah and Deepak Chopra talking about Karma on Life Class last night!  On Monday morning after meditation, the blog topic that came to me was “Karma Yoga”.  At the time I just wrote it down, but I didn’t do anything with it all day and then I turn on Oprah’s Life Class in the evening and there she is telling the world about Karma (which is her favorite of the “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra).  First of all, I was incredibly happy to hear her start off the show by breaking down religion verses spirituality (you can watch the recording of the show here…if you don’t watch anything else, definitely watch her break down the difference in the first part of the show).  She spent a good amount of time on this and I think that was a potential pivitol moment in television history – IF people really “got it”.  They are two different things and, in my opinion, it doesn’t have to be an either/or.  I think some people limit their openness to spiritual ideas because they think they are going against the religion they believe in.  Oprah defined spirituality as “living your life with an open heart” (and added qualities such as compassion, love, harmony, and peace).  Deepak Chopra defined spirituality as “a journey to self-awareness that includes love, compassion, joy, creativity, choice, free-will, imagination, etc”.  The reality is we are all spiritual beings in human form and our purpose here on earth is to fully express our God-given gifts to the world and be of service.   If we take off our “social masks”, we are all the same at the core – individual expressions of God (or Spirit, the Most High, the Universe, Source…whatever you want to call it).  All of the spiritual teachings discuss this connection, albeit in different ways (Holy Spirit, oneness, universal connection, non-duality, etc.).

Through my spiritual journey (which I revisited full steam after my “wake up call” in January), my “open heart” has exposed me to many new paths and practices (and helped me see the ones I had already been exposed to in a new light) that have transformed the way I live each day.  All because I opened my mind to ideas that I used to think were outside of what I believed in.  It’s one thing to memorize scripture and believe something, but an entirely different thing to completely undo the ego and live your life with a pure open heart and in service to others and the world.  I sat in churches all my life and have journals and journals filled with notes on sermons.  In my experience, church alone didn’t get me to the point where I could shake my daily thoughts of fear, lack, attack, blame, etc, in order to live my life as Jesus did.  The “how to” has come through my spiritual practices which have given me the daily tools to undo my ego-driven thinking and quiet my mind in order to see the “light” in everyone and everything.  My daily practices vary, but regularly include the following:  daily meditation (morning and evening), the A Course in Miracles workbook, Yoga Sutras, Science of Mind, Tao Te Ching, African Spirituality, Buddhist philosophy.  All of these things are helping me begin to be and express the qualities that Jesus was the master of and undo the ego.  As the Course in Miracles so eloquently puts it, “Salvation is the undoing of the ego”.  I read that years ago when I was first introduced to the course, but it wasn’t until now that I really got it…now that my “social mask” is gone and all that is left is the real me.  The other day someone asked me “how does it feel now that everything is out there?” and I said, without hesitation, “I feel free”.  Free at last.

Back to the topic at hand.  The words “karma yoga” essentially translate to selfless service.  I saw this concept in action during my stay at the ashram while on my personal retreat.  The ashram (Yogaville) has a month long program called “Living Yoga” which combines spiritual practices and daily activities of service.  The program participants would perform duties around the ashram without attachment to the fruit of their labor.  It was powerful to see in action, as they practiced harmoniously serving with others each day.  As they went deeper into the program, the ego was less and less in the way and they were able to stop judging the work they were assigned to do (e.g. “I shouldn’t be picking up trash along the side of the road, I should be selling books in the bookstore”) and just be of service.  It made me think about how I really wanted to build in a regular practice of serving others and my community instead of just doing one off service when I feel like it (or when my “busy schedule” allows).

Over the weekend, my husband and I attended volunteer orientation for an organization in our neighborhood that we’re going to start working with on a weekly basis and we are SO excited.  We vowed that our family will represent service and the love of all humanity (we’re still refining our family mission statement, but service will definitely be in there) and it feels so good to be putting that into action officially by committing to weekly service together in an organization that we both feel passionate about.  I used to get so caught up in focusing on achieving my dreams and career goals, that I barely had the time to fit in volunteer activities.  I was lucky if I did something once a month (other than donating money).  I also used to make myself feel better by saying to myself “what I do for a living is making a difference” because I work in education.   Yes, it is indeed a nice feeling to do work day in and day out on something that makes a difference in the lives of others, but I don’t think it replaces just giving selflessly (in a way that is not related to me paying my bills and advancing my career).  Now I am committed to being of service not only through my daily spiritual practice (“living with an open heart” as discussed above), but also through the practice of karma yoga.  I pray that our family will always be a blessing to others and continuously give more than we take in this world.  Keep shining!

“Without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty, for by working without attachment one attains the Supreme.” ~Bhagavad Gita

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” ~Acts 20:35


Filed in: Inner Peace

About the Author:

I used to live life shackled by fear, doubt, and worry. I put on a happy face while navigating my day-to-day duties, but I was emotionally drained, stressed, and unhappy. When I hit rock bottom, and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was determined to live life differently. I knew there had to be another way. Out of that determination, and guidance from Spirit, the "Living in the Light" blog was born. It documents my spiritual journey out of the darkness and into the Light. After nine months of publicly sharing my journey, and consciously releasing my attachment to the ego, I experienced a powerful spiritual awakening. I went from living in fear, doubt, worry, and stress to complete inner peace. My greatest passion has become assisting others on their own journey to inner peace. My spiritual memoir, From Stress to Peace: An Intimate Journal on the Journey from Living in Darkness to Living in the Light, is available now on Amazon and Click the tabs at the top of the page to learn more about the From Stress to Peace 21-Day Challenge, Living in the Light Retreats, 1:1 sessions, and the Living in the Light Community - all of which are designed to support your journey to inner peace. I appreciate you taking the time to visit the blog and look forward to supporting you in any way I can!