One of my yoga mentors would often marvel at how much modern science is beginning to align with the principles of Yoga. And in my own personal studies and work, I too often recognize that observation. For example, the practice of physics asks questions relating to the behavior of matter and the transfer of energy. The practice of yoga asks questions relating to the behavior of your mind and the way you transfer energy. Notice the difference, the scientist will ask global questions, while the yogi will ask self directed questions. As the saying goes, as above so below.
The word karma itself is definitely present in our cultural vernacular. However it's more than just a term that suggests someone has done something wrong or something good. While it's true that you get what you put in, that's not because of a single action, it's because of the strength of the imprint similar actions have made on the mind. Thought influences behavior, and our behavior represent experiences and experiences are your karma. Think about your collection of thoughts, actions, and experiences as an impression, in Sanskrit known as "Samskara." So the more you think of something, the more you do something, the more habitual the action and therefore the stronger the impressions. Sometimes these habits are healthy and useful to us, but other times we must slice through them to get where we want to be.
Say you have a friend, who constantly finds his/herself in romantic relationships that are unsustainable. Does your friend deserve that partner? Or is it possible that the familiarity of that kind of partner is influencing his/her behavior because the impression is so strong. Or, maybe you've been in a situation more than once, where you've decided to go on a diet and later that day someone offers you cookies. If the impression to say yes to every sugary treat offered is stronger than the impression to say no, karma is an opportunity to reevaluate habitual responses. Karma is not something that is waiting for you, it's something that is living.
Karma like any practice that concerns yoga, is primarily interested in providing a pathway to experience peace. When we end up in situations over and over again, the narrative that surrounds the circumstance is chaotic, but once the lesson is learned the chaos associated with it will cease. As we all know though, that's not an easy task. Sometimes we get accustomed to that which agitates our minds, body's, and hearts. That's when the clarifying properties of yoga and meditation can take on new meaning. We can see ourselves for who we really are independent of the home, family, and work. And that's an empowering understanding.
With the new year around the corner, I invite you all to set an intention to create more positive impressions. Don't think about the things you need to give up or the things you think you need in order to be better than you are. Instead practice cultivating new habits. Tap into your intuition, listen to your inner teacher. Do things that invite joy into your life, encourage yourself to practice non-judgment to yourself and others, and challenge yourself to find compassion and perseverance when things don't go according to plan. Let those impressions grow stronger so that you can more fully express all of the potential that you have to offer.