Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Want to be completely empowered to change the course of your life? 💎 The key is understanding your Karma—and how you can change it. Learn how in this teaching excerpt from the BrightLife Yoga Collective.
TRANSCRIPT Karma. It's one of the most important understandings that we can have, at least when it comes to our, our happiness, our personal empowerment, and our sense of connection in life. And that's because your karma controls virtually everything that you perceive, everything that you think about, everything that you feel.
And everything that you do. And I know that that sounds like a, well, maybe a disempowering thing, but it's actually just the opposite. And that's because the understanding that most people have of karma is, well, is radically different from what the true understanding of karma is. And so, what is the true understanding?
Well, we'll start with the fact that karma is a law. Like gravity is a law. It's a fact of nature. And the law quite simply is the law of cause and effect. That is to say that certain causes in our experience creates certain effects in our experience. And one of my favorite ways to describe it, because it's just so simple and clear, is if you think of a pool table, And you're standing at the head of the pool table.
You get the pool cue in your hand and you hit the pool queue into the cue ball. So the cue stick is the cause. And the cue ball taking off across the table is the effect. But then once the cue ball takes off and it hits the rack of balls, the cue balls become the cause. And all of the ball scattering become the effect.
And then the nine ball hits another ball. The nine ball becomes the cause hitting, let's say the two ball, the two ball takes off that's the effect, but it becomes the cause for the next event. And so it's a lot like that, but of course it's not just about pool balls. It has to do with cars and people and dogs and cats and thoughts and emotions, and so many other things.
If you really look to your life, to this world, you'll see that moment after a moment, things are colliding with other things. You run into a friend, you talk about politics. The thought about politics creates thoughts about something else, and those thoughts about something else. Cause you to say something else and on and on it goes. Karma.
Now, to make the, well, the very best out of this, to make the most out of our understanding of karma, it's really helpful to divide it into two major components. We have external karma and we have internal karma. Now, with external karma, we're talking about karma of things that are outside of you, things that are happening to you.
So if somebody backs their car into my car, that's external karma. If I go to a Circle, K, and then the clerk is pissy, grippy, grumpy with me. That's an external karmic event. Or, maybe she's really, really sweet to me, external karmic event. External karma things happening to you. And they do have an effect.
And indeed you have an effect externally as well, because if you're pissy, grippy, grumpy to somebody, that's gonna have a different effect than the cause of you being loving and sweet and kind to the same person. External karma. So the interesting thing about external karma is that while we can control it to some extent, it's not a very large extent because of all of the collisions that are happening in the universe right now, the fact that you are having one little input makes a difference, but not a tremendous difference.
And this brings us to where we can make, well, the most impact in our own lives and happiness and joy and clarity. And that is with internal karma. Internal karma, as you've probably guessed is the karma that lives inside of you, specifically in the form of programming that lives in your brain and your nervous system.
And if you're allergic to the word programming, you can think of it as learning. The beliefs you hold, the perspectives you hold, the ideas that you hold about yourself and other people in the world. These are all little bits of programming that we have picked up, inherited, and learned as we move through life.
And if you've ever raised any children, you can watch them as they adopt new ideas and have new beliefs and perspectives all because of what? The experiences that they go through moment after moment. Here's what the yogis would want you to know about your brain and nervous system, but let's just go with the brain for now.
Your brain is a programmed and programmable mechanism, and it's always being programmed by every experience that you have. That's true for your entire life. And it's true for every experience that you're going to have. It's always being programmed, again, if you prefer, it's always learning. Now these bits of programming,
these are what we call in the yoga business: samskaras. You can think of them as mental habits that cause us to see the world, to understand the world, and to interact with the world, in a particular way. And the reason that you seem like such a different person from your cousin, Betty, is because Betty has a different collection of samskaras from you.
Sum total of samskaras, you might think of as your personality: with all your likes and dislikes and tendencies. Now here's the thing that you need to know about samskaras for today. And that is that they work a lot, like these things that are sitting on my face right here, glasses with lenses. And the samskaras that are operating in your brain and nervous system and mine and everybody else,
they are a lot like these lenses, in that, when we look through them, they change the way we see the world, they distort reality. And then that causes us to react, not to the world as it is, but to the world, as we believe it is based upon the distortion of our samskaras. Now keep in mind. You don't have one samskara, you have millions and millions and millions of samskaras.
So it's not like one pair of glasses you have on, you have all sorts of samskaras. And you're looking through a whole morass of different samskaras every moment of the day that are causing all sorts of distortions. So a little example: so imagine that like back when you were five years old, maybe you got attacked by a dog, we'll call it a boxer.
And that boxer attacked you, sent you to the hospital where you had to have 23 stitches. And from that day on, you had a, samskara that said dogs are dangerous, especially those darn boxers are dangerous. And so your entire life, from that point on you're walking around like this, looking through the, samskara that says boxers are dangerous, but it's the samskara that's telling you that not necessarily the boxer.
So, as you're walking down the street one day, you turn the corner. And what's happening. There's a cute little boxer that comes stumbling up the road. And jogging towards you. And through this, through this particular samskara, that dog is terrifying. Now, of course the dog's name is Molly, and she's never bitten anybody in her life and she's the sweetest creature on the planet.
But when you're looking through your samskaras or this particular samskara, what you're seeing is a threat to your life. And so you react not to beautiful, adorable little Molly, gentle soul that she is, you react to the way that the samskara, your samskara, has distorted it. But here's the important thing.
Most people don't even realize they're looking through a samskara, they just think, oh my God, that's terrifying. now if your friend John was standing right next to you, and maybe John had a boxer when he was seven years old, and it was the love of his life, the best pet that he ever had. John's, samskara would not look like this.
It would look like this. And when he looked at Molly coming down the, trotting down the sidewalk, he would be overwhelmed with love and wanting to do nothing, but to give her a big hug. Not because of John, and not because of you, but because of the samskara that each one of you has inherited or learned because of your life.
And of course this doesn't just go for your relationship to dogs, but it goes to your relationship with every thing and every experience in the world. You've ever asked yourself, why you can have these two political parties that are looking at the same world and are completely convinced that they're a hundred percent right,
and the other people are a hundred percent wrong? Samskara. Here's the good news that I'm gonna leave you with today. And that is your, samskaras can be changed. Because the truth is for all of us, we have thousands and thousands, millions, and millions of samksaras, but there are a handful of them that are poisoning our lives.
And there's also a big bunch of them that are uplifting and nourishing our lives. but if we could weed out, somehow change the unhelpful, samskaras, the ones that are filling us full of anxiety or self-doubt or worry, or making us focus on all of the problems, as opposed to all of the blessings in our lives.
If we could change those, we could literally change our experience of life.
And here's the thing: that's exactly what yoga is designed to do. It's not just a bunch of poses. It's not just a bunch of breathing or meditation. It's an entire science dedicated to helping you change the samskaras that are not serving you. To create a life of more unconditional, inner peace and clarity, connection, fulfillment, and love.
In the middle of the life you've got. Oh, and one more thing I wanted to thank all of my amazing patrons who make these free teachings available for so many. And if you'd like to support my work too, and get some of my best yoga practices and meditations sent to you every month, check out my Patreon page.
It's there, that'll help you put some of this amazing wisdom to work in your life. The link is here, and I hope to see you there. ↓ JOIN MY PATREON COMMUNITY ↓ Get my best yoga and meditation practices sent to you each month when you become one of my Patrons. Learn more at the link below: ▸ www.patreon.com/ericwal ↓ JOIN THE BRIGHTLIFE YOGA COLLECTIVE ↓ Join an amazing community of yoga practitioners on a sacred journey through yoga's forgotten teachings and practices in the BrightLife Yoga Collective. Learn more at the link below: ▸ www.ericwal.com/collective