from karma to dharma

Through completing the final session of my Kundalini Yoga teacher training program last weekend, it’s become clear that my views on karma have significantly changed these last few months. Karma used to have very negative connotations (mostly surrounding punishment), and my chronic thoughts about it hung over me like a heavy cloud.

In my very first training session last October, I was hesitant to wrap my hair in a white cloth. I knew many Kundalini Yogis wore turbans, and in all my years of practice, I never saw myself doing that. But after a few days, I began to question why I was so resistant. And, near the end of our five-day session, I wrapped my hair on the top of my head.

My beautiful training group. I'm on the right.

My beautiful training group. I’m on the right.

It was very emotional for me. As a child, I was desperate to hide the fact that I was Indian. I wanted nothing more than to be white. I did everything I could to blend in, which, being brown-skinned, never really worked.

My intense feelings of powerlessness and separation – of feeling inherently inferior in my brownness – had become, in my mind, my karma. I didn’t belong anywhere on this planet, and there was nothing I could do about it.

These past few months have taken me on a journey of discovering the jewels of my ancestry, and what it means to be a woman – an Indian woman – in this day and age. It has been one intense, beautiful roller coaster ride as I unearth emotions buried deep within me, and in my ancestral line. Planet Earth is reawakening to the Divine Feminine – we know this. What truths can I now speak, that my ancestors could not?

Wrapping my hair was symbolic; it marked a return to myself.

A new path is emerging, one my childhood self couldn’t see. I have renewed hope of living from the oneness of which I am a part. I understand that I can’t be separate, because there is no separation – no matter how convincing the illusion, the maya, appears. Of course, my ego has a hard time with this. It wants to stay separate…to believe I’m inferior or superior, but never the same.

Karma used to feel like a curse, a burden – but I now see it as a gift, in that I’m totally responsible for all my thoughts, actions, and reactions in this here-and-now. I can do my best to live from my highest truth and consciousness, and correct anything I feel needs correcting. That doesn’t mean I’m always successful or that I live in ‘love light bliss’ all the time. It means I do my best.

And instead of obsessing about karma, I can choose to live my dharma.

My dharma is my purpose. It is the guiding factor in my life. It remained elusive for many years, but I’m starting to see it now. It’s what I’ve been doing all along. My dharma is not a job or a business or a project or a baby or any ‘thing’ out there. It is within. It is transforming all those things I once hated about myself into sources of strength, beauty, and love – in service to all.

Words cannot express my gratitude for my teachers, friends, and the sacred Kundalini Yoga teachings. I bow in deep reverence. Sat Nam.

how may i serve?

Ever since I saw the DVD The Secret years ago, the ‘Law of Attraction’ has left a somewhat bad taste in my mouth.  What I most remember is the film’s emphasis on manifesting material objects.  There may have been more to it, but I don’t recall attracting for the collective good being a significant feature.

I get that this video was a great tool to speak to the masses about the power of mind and visualization.   But the concept of manifesting in a bubble doesn’t sit right with me.

When I reflect on my personal goals, I can’t help but contemplate their impact on humanity at large.  While I appreciate having beautiful things, the thought of focusing my energy solely on the manifestation of material ‘stuff’ makes me feel a little dead on the inside.

service

The other day I was walking to work and I realized (not for the first time) that pretty much everything in my life is a judgment.  Being on the spiritual path for many years, this is very humbling for me to acknowledge.  My ego seems to always be at work, sizing up the people and situations I come into contact with.

While discernment is a very good thing, and in order to function in this world we need to assess and make sense of the reality around us, when the ego is involved, it can be a very fine line.

I’ve had a few isolated experiences in my life where I have been in an authentic state of non-judgment.  And I know that 99.9 percent of the time, I am not in that state.

On my walk, I thought…what would it be like to go through a day where I didn’t judge anything?  I immediately felt something loosen up inside me; there was freedom and peace.

Now that is an ultimate goal: non-judgment.  And in that moment I understood that the Law of Attraction, for me, is about accessing and cultivating states of being. Love.  Compassion.  Consciousness.  Integrity.  Patience.  Awareness.  Softness.  Discernment.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post.  Only that I’m now at a point where I’m very open to conscious creation.  And I want to find the balance in having my personal needs and desires met, and being of service to humanity.

This conjures up all kinds of questions surrounding worthiness and abundance, the individual within the collective, and sacrifice vs. service.

India, Feb. 2010. My friend Judy took this pic.

India, Feb. 2010. My friend Judy took this pic.

So what does ‘service’ mean, exactly?

I’ve always had the notion that it’s those tangible, physical, altruistic acts that people can see.  Attending protests and getting vocal.  Volunteering weekly at a community organization.  Going overseas to developing countries and building schools.  And while these acts are necessary and very noble, is it the service most appropriate for me in this lifetime?

I’ve been quite hard on myself for not physically ‘doing’ enough to improve the world.  But I can’t say that humanity at large – the bigger picture – isn’t often at the forefront of my thoughts.

Do prayer, yoga, and seeking to grow in awareness and consciousness, constitute service to humanity?

Is attempting to go through one day without judging, service?  Is smiling at a passerby when I don’t feel like it ‘enough’?

I want to travel and write and further my yoga practice and delve much deeper into my spirituality, stripping away all that is not love in my physical being. This is my lifelong work and dream, my personal dharma.

I am not against material wealth.  But my Law of Attraction is about magnetizing the most love and awareness I can in each moment, and bringing that to every interaction.  Only then will I fully enjoy any worldly success that may spring from that.