A Not-So-Positive Habit
One not-so-positive habit many of us have in common is being overly concerned about the outcome of our work, social activities, relationships, travel, even hobbies. Anxiety about how our efforts will turn out can sometimes escalate to the point where we are frozen and unable to act. In its extreme, this kind of fear can manifest as panic attacks or agoraphobia. As you might guess, the root of the problem lies in the ego, that part of our identity that both provides cohesiveness to our experience and tends to place us, in our mind’s eye, in the center of the universe. The ego whispers to us from the inside that what we do is important! And certainly on some levels it is.
The Yoga Perspective
When we practice yoga, physical and philosophical, we broaden our viewpoint on the nature of our own energy and the energies at play in the perceivable universe. This broader point of view allows us to place ourselves in a more harmonious relationship with both our inner and outer worlds: while being aware of the larger context makes us seem smaller by comparison, it also unburdens us of a false sense of responsibility. Karma yoga is conscious acknowledgement of this more realistic view of our place in the order of things, accomplished by detaching ourselves from the outcomes, or fruit, of our actions.
Let’s Get Real
A karma yogi’s primary obligation is simply to bring his or her authentic self, including relevant skills and knowledge, to each activity and relationship. This requires striving to keep motives transparent both to self and others and contributing generously but not foolishly within the scope of the specific arena of activity. What it doesn’t include is taking complete ownership of the results, which is not only egocentric but naïve concerning the number of factors at play at any one time in any one situation. Whether you offer the fruit of action at the altar of God or release it in the name of practical realities, relinquishing total control is not only liberating but much closer to the truth of human limits.
Let’s Have Fun!
One of the most salutary effects of acting in good faith without attachment to the results is the attitude of experimentation it produces, a “let’s see what’s going to happen” approach. This is the mindset of children at play, open to learning and fun, and just as gratified by the “mistakes” that teach them about their world and their own capabilities as they are by so-called successes. The root of innovation, and of happiness, lie in this non-judgmental embrace of ourselves and release of the fruit of our actions.
Yogasync Me! If you have been come overly concerned with outcomes, instead of enjoying each relationship, task and moment as fully as can be, then try this calming Yoga Sequence. Afterwards you’ll find you have more perspective and a lighter, brighter spirit going forward: