Some people view karma as a punishment for past sinful actions but this limited interpretation of the word prevents understanding of it’s true meaning. Rather than a cause of suffering karma is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Karma is a Sanskrit word for “action”. All action causes a reaction and, if we deviate from our path karma puts us back on track. Karma is not bad luck or fate, it is simply aligning us to our soul purpose. So if we are experiencing suffering, it could be a sign that changes need to be made to re-align us with the happiness and satisfaction that is intended for us. When we have peace and stability we can be sure that we are living peacefully, following the path of natural law.
If I experience a period of feeling tired, stressed or unwell when I examine my life I can usually find more than one area in which I am not taking correct action. Maybe I am not getting adequate sleep or I am making less than healthy choices in my diet. If I take action to correct this and re-align myself (easier said than done) I should see improvements in my well-being.
In recent years I have had many episodes when I have felt physically or emotionally out of balance. Once I understood that these were signs that I needed to take action I felt more in control of my well-being. Karma has nudged me towards a path of enquiry and learning about mindfulness, relaxation techniques, Reiki, massage and other holistic therapies, all of which contribute to my well-being and the well-being of others. This blog is my lifelong project to stay on my true path and help others to do the same, hence the name, the Karma Life project.
In his book Supercoach, Michael Neill tells us “the worst thing that can happen to us, is a thought about the worst thing that could happen too us”. How many times have you thought about an event or a difficult situation and in reality your thoughts turned out to be far worse than the reality?
Mindfulness awareness can help us to watch our thoughts and become slightly detached from them, giving us space to respond to events rather than react. Vidyamala Birch is the founder of Breathworks mindful-based programmes. In her book Mindfulness for health she explores how our thoughts affect our experience of pain and illness. She talks about primary and secondary suffering.
When a person is living with chronic pain or disease – primary suffering is the person’s direct experience of the unpleasant sensation relating to the disease such as pain or chronic fatigue. Secondary suffering occurs when the individual is pre-occupied by thoughts or ideas about the pain or fatigue. Let me give you an example; John suffers from chronic severe pain in his lower back following an accident. The pain he feels is his primary suffering. When the pain is present John starts to think “I can’t live with this pain, I will never be happy while I have to cope with this pain, I will never work again because of this pain”. These thoughts are secondary suffering. Birch suggests that secondary suffering is the cause of the majority of distress in those with chronic pain or disease.
Neuroscientists have found that what we resist persists and so mindfulness based approaches help us to explore our bodily sensations, thoughts and emotions without becoming embroiled in them or trying to resist them. Once there is a sense of allowing and non-resistance the struggle is replaced by a sense of peace and secondary suffering diminishes. Birch’s book guides those with chronic pain and stress through a mindfulness based programme to restore wellbeing.
I will end the post with some of my favourite tips from the book;
Don’t become trapped in the past or future.
All thoughts are transient. Let them pass.
Make a commitment to life as it is, rather than how you want it to be.
Take a break before you need it.
If you are interested in learning mindfulness techniques please contact me at via the blog.
Our minds are often dominated by automatic thoughts. As we drive to work in the morning we often have no recollection of the journey because we are lost in thought. We don’t notice that the blossom is coming on the trees or that there is a new shop open on the high street. Often these automatic thoughts are negative and are about an event in the past or the future. We are missing the present moment, the only moment that truly exists. Being mindful is simply being fully aware of the present moment experience.
We don’t need to sit in an uncomfortable position for prolonged lengths of time or join a cult to practice mindfulness. We just need to stay present in the moment and notice where our attention wanders too and gently bring it back. We can look at our thoughts rather than from them and in this way creat some space between our experiences and our reactions.