Meditation in Action - The Power of Karma Yoga

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By Jigyasu Bhakti Ratna (Kate Woodworth) - Kate is a senior yoga teacher and yoga therapist from Yoga Vidya Gurukul (, she is teaching and practicing yoga for the last 10 years. She is also Resident Officer at Yoga Vidya Gurukul. She is initiated in to Jigyasu Sannayasa by her Guru Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati.

Meditation in Action - The Power of Karma Yoga

Karma is the pattern of one?s individuality and the knowledge that one experiences in life. As well as this it is the action performed by the senses, intellect and thoughts in order to enjoy the material world. So karma translates as action, something that everybody performs. Our senses, brain, mind, and bodily functions all perform actions. Our environment is in a state of action. Our complete lives are a process of action. When the word Karma is combined with the word Yoga it means any action that is performed with meditative awareness. It is therefore known as the yoga of dynamic meditation, harmony in action.

Normally, when we are performing an action we associate some kind of expectation with it. This expectation, when fulfilled, gives rise to another expectation, action and so on. Almost every single action that we perform we are doing to fulfil an expectation. Even when we practice yoga we are expecting something good and nice to happen to us. Most people can not even get their heads around doing an action without any expectation. It is said in yoga that if one can perform an action without expectation and with perfection, that person is a yogi.

Karma yoga is about the awareness of the action. We should be aware of each and every action and related expectation. There should be awareness that the goal may or may not be attained and there should be detachment from the expectation. If the goal is attained, think very nice, if the goal is not attained, again, very nice. Instead of trying to ignore the expectation we instead need to recognize that the expectation is there and then detach from the involvement surrounding that expectation. We have to detach from the influence and attraction of that expectation. By doing this the creativity will manifest and this can be offered as a service to humanity and divinity. To practice action without expectations we have to observe the ego. Swami Niranjanananda says that the elimination of the ego takes place with karma yoga. He says, ?One kind of action moves, motivates and inspires the world, another is only for self-indulgence.? Almost everything we do involves the ego and desire. To experience egoless action we have to use our intellect and analyse our experiences and situations, we have to find a point where we are acting without the ego. Both the surface and the subtle reactions need to be observed for this. It is not the actions that are considered important but the frame of mind associated with the action, the attitude. This change in attitude is what creates the change within.

It is said that karma yoga is the fastest way to evolve. It is a very effective way for experiencing the true self. When it is combined with other forms of yoga and the awareness of the actions is evolving, then it causes purification. This state of purification and harmony is very difficult through the other types of yoga and it takes a much longer time to get the same level of purification.

It is said that there are two types of work, what you do for yourself and what you do for others. There should be a balance in life and fifty-fifty is a good figure to aim for, eventually the ideal is that we practice yoga 24 hours a day, using our actions as a means of gaining higher awareness. Every act can be transformed into an act of yoga if it is practiced without selfish intentions, with complete concentration and with awareness. That is true meditation in action.

To conclude, here are some words from Swami Sivananda, a man who truly practiced karma yoga 24 hours a day.

To raise the fallen,
to lead the blind,
to share what I have with others,
to bring solace to the afflicted,
to cheer up the suffering,
to love my neighbour as my own Self,
to protect animals, women and children -
these are my aims and ideals.

I will help you and guide you.
I live to serve you all.
I live to make you all happy.
This body is meant for service.

By Jigyasu Bhakti Ratna (Kate Woodworth)

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