Call it what you want - spiritual awakening, spiritual journey, kundalini rising, following your heart, we could even call it a ‘mid-life crisis.’ As I am going through my own shift, I’m seeing so many people beginning to wake up. They are becoming woke by questioning their very way of being, questioning their purpose. They’re opening up to new possibilities simply by cultivating a sense of curiosity.
I believe our spiritual awakening begins when we shift from living a life of karma, to living a life full of kriya, and ultimately evolving into a life of dharma. Kriyas support our path to awakening and shift us towards dharma, our spontaneous right action; living in alignment with our true inner essence. How do we get from karma to kriya? Awareness and a whole lotta will. But I digress, and that’s for a different post.
Does this all sound confusing? It can be. Let me break it down and explain in a way that makes sense to our daily lives. This is exactly why we need teachers when we begin on our spiritual path - trusted guides who can support and help illuminate the path of our journey. This stuff can be confusing, and it’s up to us to find someone we trust and who we resonate with to correct and clarify this wisdom.
Karma is an action that binds us - ties us up, and keeps us stuck in our patterns. Unsure of what I mean by patterns? Some examples:
Dating the same personality type over and over again
Repetitive negative thoughts
Chronic alcohol/substance abuse whether it’s functional or not
Victim-identification (blaming of others and not accepting accountability)
poverty/lack mindset (I don’t deserve abundance/prosperity, therefore I will never have it)
Contrary to what most believe, karmic action is not so much cause-effect; but could be better described as ‘no growth’ or ‘regression' or 'being stuck.' Any action that does not contribute to your growth and evolution, is contributing to your regression or stagnance. This is karma. Karma keeps us playing small, playing the victim, and keeps us resisting the innate desire of our soul to grow, change and evolve. When we don’t allow the soul to evolve and change and become what it desires, growth becomes stale, and this is what I believe causes the mind to suffer. Resisting change is resisting the soul’s true nature, and this causes conflict. When there is inner conflict, there is suffering.
Think of a scenario you feel stuck in... a repetitive action or thought or situation you keep finding yourself in... Let me give you an example that applies to me:
“Gosh, I really think I drink too much. I don’t like being drunk and when I go out, it’s hard for me to have just 1 or 2. I make bad decisions when I drink, and I waste time the next day being hungover and irritable. It causes me to eat food that makes me feel bad, talk to people I normally wouldn’t, and be put in scenarios that aren’t in my best interest. I’d really like to take a break.”
Realizing something doesn’t serve you (your health, your mindset, etc); yet continuing to engage in that behavior - that is karma. The sensation of feeling bound, stuck, like you simply CAN’T do what your very own inner guide (intuition) is telling you to do. It's knowing what would serve you, but feeling unable to change. Don’t get me wrong, you need awareness in order to step out of your patterns, and cultivating awareness takes practice, but it’s what ignites the transition from karma to kriya.
Kriya means revolutionary action. Kriyas are actions that lead us to evolution, expansion and liberation. Whereas karma makes us feel stuck and bound, kriyas free us from the patterns and conditioning that keep our lives running on auto-pilot. Kriya yoga is something I practice daily (and teach as often as anyone will let me!) as the techniques have been monumental in letting go of the grip I had to a lot of these programs I was running my life on (IE: I’m not worthy of a supportive partner, I’m not a good parent, I’m not physically beautiful, etc). Actively utilizing your will each day, to consciously and intentionally make a different choice, one that supports your unique evolution, is an action of kriya. When I made the decision to take a break from drinking, that was a kriya. Every time I intentionally chose to stay home instead of going to the bar to drink, THAT was a kriya. My actions were slowly leading me towards freedom of that pattern I had begun so long ago.
Practicing kriya, whether it be kriya yoga or just working on actively releasing the old patterns you feel bound by, frees up space and energy for you to move down a dharmic path. Dharma - spontaneous right action. Dharma is moving through your life with ease and grace. Dharma is effortlessness. Dharma is listening to your intuition and following your life’s purpose without forcing it or having expectations on what it should look like. Dharma is trusting in the uncertainty of your life, because as long as you are practicing kriya (taking steps to expand and evolve), a dharmic way of living will naturally follow. Kriya helps us transcend karma and experience the expansiveness, joy, bliss and the grace of dharma. Dharma is flow state; dharma is moving through life feeling excited in the uncertainty, cultivating an inner sense of calm and steadfastness, trusting the universe and maintaining equanimity when things appear to go south. The question is not “Why is this happening to me?” the question is “Why is this happening FOR me?” Dharma is appropriate response, not reaction. Dharma is contemplation, reflection, and awareness. Dharma is not fulfilling a purpose, it’s understanding that your very existence is purposeful.
Here’s what’s important for you to know:
As you move about your life, as you may begin to cultivate an awareness around your behaviors, your thoughts, your reactions, ask yourself….Do I want to repeat this painful event? Or do I want to evolve? Because part of the evolution and flow of life is to keep giving us the same scenario in which we need to learn something from. When we react the same way each time, in an unhealthy or toxic manner, we are in karma, and we are not evolving. Become a witness, recognize your patterns, use your will and transcend. How do we do all this? Practicing a yogic lifestyle and integrating some spiritual practices will help. Good thing you’re in the right place!