Call to Action: Karma Yoga

Karma yoga

Written by Heather Burkart

My mission is to empower women with a natural, holistic approach to support health so you can be strong, vibrant, and content. My focus is on your whole well being including mental, emotional, and spiritual.

The longest days of summer find us in a very different place this year. I’ve heard the question asked: is 2020 cancelled? After some thought, I’m coming to understand that 2020 is anything but cancelled. It is very much going on and perhaps the most important year of our time. Can you feel it? The upheaval and transformation that’s taking place is tangible. We’ve been violently shaken awake. I believe it’s for a really good reason. Let’s consider a few yogic principles to explore why.

With the corona-virus, it’s been 6 months of of hard stops, hard lessons, and reordering of priorities. Our busy bodies and minds have been tethered to home routines and staying healthy. With systemic racism and police brutality that continues mercilessly against the African-American community and the ensuing protests, we’re also looking at old gaping wounds that have not been properly addressed (dressed, yes, but festering from neglect), sitting with uncomfortable truths, learning how to be better allies and agents of change, and making a commitment to help cleanse the infection once and for all.
That’s a lot. Take a couple deep breaths with me.

A yogic principle Satya (truthfulness) teaches us that when what we think and feel, what we say, and what we do are in alignment only then can we become a whole, fully-integrated person. Ghandi said that this is the foundation of true happiness.

While the summer sun brightly paints our part of the world, I ask you to take some of that light and shine it on your heart and soul. Humor me with this visualization. Allow your heart to bloom with the sun’s loving light and warmth. Then, look. Look deep within the folds of your heart. What do you see? What do you feel? Are you troubled about anything that is unexpressed there? It’s important for us first to be honest with ourselves so that we can do the necessary work that is being asked of every one of us. So that everyone can be fully expressed and happy.
More deep breaths.

Pema Chodron says that we must first know fear before we are to be fearless. She says that in order for us to have compassion for others, we must first have compassion for ourselves. This is why self-compassion is important in this practice of looking within. So we can transform that fear into fearlessness.

For this awareness-building practice, I highly recommend Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart. Here’s a short video about the main ideas in her book. It’s not only a wonderful book about learning how to meditate but also how to make friends with our minds. Meditation is a good first step towards Satya, or truthfulness. We must know our minds first before we come to terms with its contents.

It’s okay to not have the answers. It’s okay to feel confusion, sadness, anger, and guilt. Placing ego aside, it’s okay to ask for guidance. It’s all part of the journey. As we learn to be gentle and loving with ourselves in this process, in a deeply meaningful way, we can learn to look upon others with the same compassion. Love for ourselves and others will help us do the work. Being honest and present with our feelings is the impetus to action. Meditation could be the first step.
See below for a list of my favorite resources for women and families.

The yoga of action is called Karma Yoga. It’s about self-less service through helping others and expecting nothing in return. It’s the lack of action, among other things, that has led us to recent events.

This giving of ourselves supports a balanced flow of energy between all beings. Everyone gets what they need as long as we continue to think of others. Otherwise, we accumulate our own karma that eventually can become a fortress and an obstacle in our spiritual development. We might feel safer for the time being but then we are closed to receiving much-needed energy. We are disconnected and remain spiritually stunted.
The African-American community in the US has been especially injured by a lack of action from others who enjoy positions of power and privilege. I know you’ve heard about this again and again recently. It’s important that we keep hearing it so we don’t forget our responsibility to lift all people up – not just ourselves and people like us. Americans in particular have a communally shared karma around the unequal treatment of the “other:” Native Americans, African-Americans, and all immigrants.

It’s up to each one of us to dismantle this collective karma by doing our part. Otherwise, it will continue to weigh upon us and stall our evolution into a fully integrated and expressed version of humanity. Another yogic principle that is also shared by Ayurveda is that humans are interconnected with all living beings. This includes all creatures with whom we share the Earth, Earth itself, and the greater Universe and all it encompasses. When any part of the equation suffers, we all pay a karmic price. I feel strongly that the human race will not truly prosper until all people and all living beings are treated with equality and respect. I hope that one day we will realize that we are one big, beautiful family and treat each other accordingly. I will continue to hold that dream close my heart and learn how I can be a warrior for peace and compassion. Let’s not forget that Pema Chodron teaches that it doesn’t have to be a dream. She reminds us to make our future selves proud by the way we act today.

Resources for Kids & Families

The Kind Cocoa Mama on Instagram (Montessori-inspired)

Anti-Racist Resources for Montessori Families

Talking to Children Authentically About Race & Racism (PBS Kids)

Meditation Resources

The Essential Pema: A Study Guide to the Writings of Pema Chodron

When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron

4 Simple Steps to Teach Kids Mindfulness

Short Meditation for Kids With Deepak Chopra

Ayurveda & Anti-Racism

Wishing you well,Heather

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