Pay it backward

Make someone happy

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.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Image: Pinterest / Women’s Lib)

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Being nice feels nice (most of the time)

it's nice to be nice plaqueAs part of the #26ActsofKindness campaign that Ann Curry conceptualized to commemorate the 26 victims of the Newtown shooting by paying kindness forward, I decided to participate. It always feels…well… nice to be nice. If you’re there to receive someone’s thanks, gratitude is a warm hug, but even if you aren’t it still feels pretty darn good to be kind (most of the time.)

I started a personal tradition years ago in which I always pay for the car behind me when going through a toll booth.  I stole this simple act from a car that did it for me once.  So, I decided to expand on the concept and paid for the gentleman’s lunch behind me in line in my office cafeteria.  I don’t bring this up for any kind of recognition, but because I was taken aback for a moment by his reaction.

Dazed and confused when the cashier told him I’d paid for his lunch, he yelled for me — almost in an accusatory tone.  He then proceeded to interrogate me as I walked away, “Why did you do this?”  His tone more irritated than I’d expected.  My answer, “Just ’cause.  Merry Christmas.” His face changed when he realized that I didn’t buy his lunch as retribution for something he didn’t even realize he’d done, and simply said, “Thank you.”

When I’ve done this in the past, I prefer to slink off and just let the person enjoy a pleasant surprise.  But I couldn’t get away that quickly this time.  I really don’t honestly don’t do it because I want to be heralded, I just do it because of all of the times someone has done something nice for me and I wasn’t even paying attention.  I also hope that it changes someone’s day enough, that the kindness grows.

It’s a bit troubling that we, as a society, enter each day braced for battle as if life were a combat zone.   When we’re shocked more by acts of kindness than by criminality or day-to-day insensitivities, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Take a step back today, and evaluate (without judgement) how you face the world each day. Are you ready for battle? If so, can you shift perspective?  Karma  is the concept of “action” or “deed”, understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect.  Why not change you Karma and put out goodness for goodness sake.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Pinterest)

Kindness is always possible

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?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo Source: Sara on Pinterest

Where Did You Park Your Karma? 10 ways to pay it forward

good karma street signWhat 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