What is Karma Anyway?

Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom…Our thoughts, our words, and deeds are the threads of the net which we throw around ourselves.” ~Swami Vivekananda

Saturday I turned 42 years old.  In 42 years I have had a lot of different experiences.  I grew up in Cleveland in your typical dysfunctional family (I mean that very lovingly for family members who are reading this!), went to college like I was “supposed to,” got married at 20, had both of my daughters by the time I was 23, experienced being a stay at home Mom for a few years, moved to Baltimore, went back to work, ended up with a chronic illness at 32 and almost died, started my own business at 33, got divorced at 38, and just recently moved again to Arizona.  Of course, there are many things I have left out but overall my life has been amazing!

As we look back on our lives, remembering the happy times is easy but when the memories of painful times arise, times where maybe we were not “our best,” it is not easy to look in the mirror.  Did you ever wonder why certain things in your life happened?  I mean, really wondered?  Not wondered from a victim place of “why is this happening to me?” but from a place of “what the heck is going on here?”

As I write this, I am sitting in the kitchen of my old house which is now my ex-husband’s house.  No, that is not weird.  It is possible to get divorced and still get along with your ex.  Last night after flying all day, my daughter picked me up at the airport late; I got back to this house and plopped into the bed in the spare room.  As I laid there trying to fall asleep I remembered the last time I had slept in that bed.  It was my last night in this house before I left my husband.  It made me stop and think about karma and choices I have made in my life up until this point.

I define karma as action and consequence.  I don’t believe karma is a tablet with all of our deeds kept in the hands of the Gods for them to decide how we should be punished for what we did wrong.  I believe karma is just the word to describe the consequences for the actions we choose.  We all have heard the expression, “what you sow is what you reap.”  Karma, in essence, is simply the Universe’s way of making you responsible and accountable for the choices you have made thus far.

Here is the rub; some of the choices we make are unconscious.  Over 90% of our behaviors come from our subconscious minds and in that part of the mind sits all of our past conditioning which we received from parents, teachers, experiences and even past lives (if you believe in that).  The question becomes, if we want to make the best and highest choices going forward so we no longer accumulate “KARMA,” what can we do?

K = Keep heart centered
Many of us make our choices only after we have run the scenario through our minds countless times, done a pie chart and asked 80,000 different people their opinions.  Learn to make your choices using your heart, not your head.  When you have to make a choice, listen to your body and your feelings.  How does the choice feel?  Where does the feeling show up in your body?  Does the choice feel comfortable or does it make you uncomfortable?

A = Always learn from your past experiences
Unfortunately, there is such a thing as “karmic debt.”  With every action, there is a reaction and yes, you do have to balance (not “pay for”) any misdeeds you have done.  Going forward, when something unfortunate happens or you make a poor choice ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?”  “What is the message the Universe is trying to tell me?” and “How can I use this experience to help others?”

R = Remember to be present
Being present means being aware of what is going on at this moment.  Be an observer of your life and witness what is going on around you.  Be here, now.  Your future is created in the present moment and the choices you are making right now.  Be present so you can make the best choices possible.

M = Make peace with yourself and others
Every choice you make not only affects you but it affects those around you and sometimes in ways in which you may not even be aware.  No debt in the Universe ever goes unpaid – that is just law.  If you have done harm to someone in the past you don’t necessarily have to hunt them down and beg for forgiveness.  Do your own work.  Bring that person up in your mind, send them light and love, apologize and let them go.  Use that experience as a lesson to make higher choices in the future.

A = Ask yourself questions constantly
Every time you are about to make a choice ask yourself, “What are the consequences of this choice I am making and will it benefit me and others involved?”  Answer from your heart.  Always, always question your thoughts.  When you find yourself judging yourself or someone else ask yourself, “Is that true?”  “Can I be certain it is true?”  “Who would I be if that thought didn’t exist?”  Always do your best in choosing the higher road.

A year older,

Chris

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

Where is Scratch?

Never be afraid to ask a question, especially of yourself.  Discovery is the mission of life.
~Brian Kates

I would like you to take a few minutes to answer the following questions.  Sit down somewhere comfortable, take a deep breath and write down the first answers that come to your mind.  Try not to over analyze.

  1. In order to find yourself, are you willing to lose yourself?
  2. If you think life is hard right now, what are you comparing it to?
  3. What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
  4. How would you introduce yourself to God?
  5. Do you let yesterday use up too much of today?
  6. What is the one thing you think about that always makes you smile?
  7. Who are “they” that hold so much power over you?
  8. If you had 5 minutes to live, who would you call and why are you waiting?
  9. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
  10. What would you pack to pursue a dream and what would you leave behind?

~Questions taken from “Ever Wonder,” by Kobi Yamada

I have always lived my life by the philosophy of having nothing on my “Unwilling To Do” list.  That may sound crazy and yes, I have been accused of insanity more than once in my life, but think about that statement for a moment.  When you think about your life, your dreams and your aspirations…better yet, when you think about how you pray, what do you think and say?  Do you say, “God, I need more money but please don’t take away the job I have now.”  Or “God, please help my daughter make the best choices for her life but protect her from pain.”  Most of us pray and dream with exceptions.  “I want this, but please don’t take away that” is the flavor of most of our prayers.  We are afraid of the unknown and afraid of the answer to the question, “what if?”

Byron Katie, an amazing author and speaker, has a process called “The Work.”  In “The Work” you are taught to question your thoughts.  She has a line she says over and over again that I just love…”If you want pain and suffering, get a future!”  The idea of “The Work” is to question the stories you tell yourself (your thoughts) with a series of 4 questions and then turn it around.  The questions are as follows:

  1. Is it true? (yes or no, if no move to #3)
  2. Can you absolutely know that is true? (yes or no)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Then, you turn the whole thing around.
“Your Inner Awakening,” by Byron Katie

For example, if you have a thought of “Steve should not lie to me,” you ask yourself the 4 questions.  Don’t worry about the answer.  There is no right or wrong answer here.  You are allowed to say yes.  So let’s say you say yes to #1.  Then ask yourself #2.  Can you really know if Steve lied?  Can you absolutely know what is in Steve’s best interest?  Maybe it is part of his life lesson to act the way he does.  Now, #3…how do you feel when you allow yourself to believe Steve lies?  Angry, stressed, frustrated.  How do you treat Steve when he lies?  Do you try to change him?  #4…Picture yourself standing in front of Steve, close your eyes and look at Steve without that thought.  What do you see?  What would your life look like if you eliminated that thought?  Now, turn the statement around.  “Steve should not lie to me” turns into “I should not lie to myself.” 

(You can get more detail and an actual worksheet to do “The Work” by clicking here.)

What this does is cause you to question your thinking.  80% of what you think is a lie.  Pay attention to your feelings today.  If you start feeling any one of a number of bad feelings, stop and see what you were just thinking about.  Question it.  Is it true?  What if it wasn’t true?  Choose to feel good.  Choose your thoughts every day so they are ones that fit how you want to feel.  Stay present.  The only time you feel any pain or bad feelings is when you allow your mind to wander into the past or into the future.  You are always perfect and exactly where you need to be in the present.  There are no mistakes.  Everything, even if you may label it as “bad,” is meant to be and is for your highest good.  The answers will come.  I promise…

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves.” ~Richard Carlson, PhD

Maybe I should start this blog over from scratch?  Where is scratch?  😉

Chris

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .