by Jennifer Carter Avgerinos: If only our life choices were labeled as clearly as our food. Instead of saying “now gluten free,” it might say something like “karma reducing or now with 50 percent less karma…”
“Karma is the sum of a person’s actions, right or wrong. It’s the residue that’s left behind when we make good or bad life choices. Karma is why yogis strive to make “right actions or right choices” and pay it forward by performing selfless service or seva, also known as karma yoga. Helping others is a great way to store up good karma.
But What’s in it for Me?
The principle behind karma yoga isn’t about what you get out of it. However, there are benefits from the practice. Research shows that acting selflessly and volunteering can boost:
- Mental and physical health
And it can reduce stress levels. Any act big or small that helps to spread compassion, kindness, love, and understanding can be considered a karmic deed.
Where Do I Start?
You don’t need to quit your job or move to an ashram to perform karma yoga. Karmic deeds are available everywhere you look: the local animal shelter, a community project, and repurposing instead of throwing away. The options are limitless. Karma yoga is the union of individual consciousness with collective consciousness. Sometimes that begins with people or animals who are already in our lives.
Here are some ways to integrate karma yoga into your life every day:
- Be aware of everything that you think, do, and use, including basic everyday tasks such as cleaning your house. If you make your best effort to care for the world around you, it will nourish you right back.
- Be respectful of everyone and everything you encounter. Give a gift, a compliment, or a silent Namaste to everyone you meet.
- Be generous in your actions as well as with your time and resources. Lend an ear, give something away, or support a good cause.
In the words of the great living saint Amma: “love and a selfless attitude underlie all truly great deeds. When your heart is filled with love and selflessness, it overflows and expresses itself in all your thoughts, words, and actions.” A life inspired by love and service is possible.
How will you practice karma yoga?