It may seem naive, but I really believe that if we all began to act from a place of love that all suffering would stop including our own. The concept of ‘paying it forward’ is not knew. You know the idea that if you do something nice for someone you don’t even know, that the niceness will catch on. But I think this concept of karma works in an even more cyclical way than we might think.
If you’ve ever made a gesture such as buying lunch for the person behind you in line, or paying for the next car’s toll, you know that it feels good and you probably made someone’s day (or at least lightened it for a moment). I also believe that the act of gratitude we feel toward our own hearts for having done such an act, opens us up further. It’s as if kindness toward someone else has a boomerang effect as well as a forward propulsion — it bounces back and our own act of love makes way for more kindness and acts of love. We feel lighter, and more equipped to face the day to come.
Plus, we begin to break through the hard shell that sometimes builds up around our own heart. Simply kicking in a door and taking that first step toward acting from a place of love, and we soften.
So, don’t just think of good karma as something that only moves in a forward direction, but more like a tide that flows in and flows out. Open yourself up to letting a little kindness flow, and feel what flows back in.
Ayurveda is a Hindu system of traditional medicine (in the U.S., Ayurveda is considered alternative medicine) that began in India during the Vedic period (between 1700 and 1100 BCE). Ayurveda is the science of life and art of healing as a lifetime practice of wellness and healthy living. Adopting the physics of the elements and belief that all beings are connected, Ayurveda is about balance inside and out. There’s a lot to Ayurveda, so this is by no means comprehensive, but an intro into the most common practices.
One of the most familiar and widely used concepts in living a balanced life according to Ayurveda is that of the Doshas or the three elemental energies. It’s believed that our Prakruti or constitution is made of up a balance of these energies. Our Prakruti or Prakriti is determined at the moment of conception and relates to our genetically inherited physical and emotional qualities. Ayurveda stresses a balance of these energies or ‘humors’ Vāyu / vāta (air & space – “wind”), pitta (fire & water – “bile”) andkapha (water & earth – “phlegm”). If it helps, think of them like hormones (except their not) in that when there’s an imbalance you feel off, and that imbalance can manifest itself in any number of ways from mental to physical, and even karmic.
We’re made up of this mix of energies that can change throughout our lives; it can even change with the seasons. Tapping into centuries old medicine to learn about your individual Prakruti and what dietary/lifestyle changes you can make to balance your dominating qualities might be just the change you’re looking for. Prakruti specifically relates to those qualities, characteristics and tendencies that are stable. For instance, while you may experience temporary changes, like gaining or losing ten pounds, feeling nervous or irritable, developing a cold or flu, etc., in the natural course of life you will never gain or lose five inches on your height or experience a change of eye color. Prakriti is enlivened and described by three main doshas or forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Personally, I believe in integrative medicine that brings together philosophies and practices from the east and the west. I love seeing what the body can do to heal itself, and how the foods we eat and things we do impact our health. But, I’m also eternally grateful for Western medicine and how it’s saved my life.
I’ll dive more into the various Doshas and where to take your personal practice during Vata season, so take the Dosha Quiz on the Chopra Institute Website to learn more about your energetic makeup. For in depth information or to study Ayurveda, visit the Ayurveda Institute’s website.
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I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately. What does it mean to be kind? Am I kind? How often do I show kindness to others? As I think about these questions, my mind starts to kicking up dirt, and out of curiosity I Googled kindness just to see what came up. Along side Wikipedia’s definition of kindness and numerous quotes, I found an article on the health benefits of kindness on a website called, “Pathways to Family Wellness.” Hmmm. I’m intrigued. So I read on. Here’s an excerpt from the article.
“Being kind has a profound impact in the lives of others but you may not know how much of a positive health benefit it delivers to you as well.
People who perform acts of kindness would agree that being kind to someone else makes them “feel good.” Scientific research shows that it not only can make you feel good but being kind has a significant health benefit, both physically and mentally.
Allan Luks, the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of New York City studied kindness and documents his findings in his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others.
Luks’ study involved more than 3,000 volunteers of all ages at more than 20 organizations throughout the country. He sent a 17- question survey to these volunteers, asking them how they felt when they did a kind act. A total of 3,296 surveys were returned to Luks, and after a computerized analysis, he saw a clear cause and- effect relationship between helping and good health. Luks concluded, ‘Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders serious and minor, psychological and physical.'”
Interesting. I knew that it felt good to help others, but I didn’t realize there were actual health benefits. Bonus. Another one for my recent post, “Selfishly be someone else’s miracle.”
I continued mining through the returned results from my search, and stumbled up on the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website. Aaah, sweet inspiration. Just reading the stories people have posted about acts of generosity and compassion began to fire up my tenderness tapas. The thing is, random acts of kindness don’t have to be award-winning gestures of selflessness. Merely being there for another human being in any form IS kindness. And, sometimes kindness simply means NOT harming another. Not cutting someone off in traffic. Not voicing your frustration to the customer service representative. Not winning an argument.
“It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to resist from harming them.” The Dalai Lama
Kindness is always an option. How will you show kindness today?
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What comes to mind when you think of “karma?” Does it inspire punitive images of divine retribution? Do you envision your ex “getting what’s coming to them” for hurting you? Maybe you’re not quite sure what to think when we talk about karma. Too often, karma is only thought of in terms of payback for a wrongdoing; far far away from the fundamental concept of karma.
The Sanskrit word Karma (or kamma in Pali) literally means action. Central to dharmic religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Wicca karma mainly refers to one’s intention or motivation while doing an action. Christianity has it’s own tenets of karma in the “The Golden Rule.” Regardless of religion, the sentiment is essentially the same, “you get what you give.” For those religions that believe in reincarnation, what you “get” can be accumulated over lifetimes.
In essence, all living creatures are responsible for their karma, their actions and the effects of their actions. While I think there is some truth to the saying, “you reap what you sow,” I try to subscribe to a more positive belief that we are all part of the same mortal coil, the same energy and act accordingly. We are, however, all human, myself included. So, until I reach bodhisattva status many lifetimes from now, I reserve the right to make mistakes without judgement. Continue reading →