What does it mean when people say that they have bad karma? Actually, karma refers to the patterns that you’ve created over your many lifetimes. So the karmic patterns aren’t punishment at all. The universe isn’t trying to make you feel bad. No, these patterns are simply the result of your accumulated thoughts and actions.
This should give you hope, because this means that karma is just an ancient way of saying the popular expression, What goes around, comes around. That’s good news, because this means that you created patterns, both good and bad, in the past. You are experiencing the results of those thoughts and actions now. And the good news is that you aren’t condemned to repeat these past patterns.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Though you have good and bad karmic patterns, they are not permanently frozen — they are always in a process of changing. That is because the good thoughts and actions have their own transformational energy to them. So as you generate positive thoughts and actions, the positive energy gradually heals, or transmutes the deeper negative karmic patterns.
So this means that one of the secrets to improving your karma is to generate good thoughts and actions. However, it’s not enough to just know about goodness as a concept. Nor is it enough to automatically follow so-called good behavior patterns in a robotic way.
Genuine good karmic patterns come from how you approach your life, and each person has their own customized lesson plan. With that in mind, now you can explore three ways to improve your karma.
1. Observe other people, and notice when they are expressing good patterns, and notice when people are behaving badly — don’t judge it; just notice it.
Why does observing other people help your karma? When you recognize bad behavior, that is because you have already learned that particular karmic lesson. You were stuck in that inappropriate behavior many lifetimes ago, and your soul gradually came to recognize the wrongness of that behavior. It could also be that you recognize the behavior from your own younger experiences in this current lifetime. Now, you easily recognize the wrongness of the behavior when you observe it in others.
Every time you see recognize the pattern in others, it reinforces the lesson that you learned when you were doing that very same thing. This explains why you don’t want to judge or condemn others, even when you observe the inappropriateness of their behavior. Judging them, when they are in the middle of their karmic lessons, is no different from judging yourself.
If you are not judging others, and if you do perceive that another person is behaving inappropriately, what attitude can you reasonably have about that person? Bless them, and imagine that they are learning their lessons as quickly and easily as possible. It just takes a moment to bless another person — and blessing creates good karma, too.
2. Look at the lessons you’ve learned in this present lifetime, and discover ways each day to follow the wisdom path that those lessons lead you to.
Maybe you used to eat junk food, and now you don’t. At least, you generally don’t, but here’s the wonderful karmic opportunity. You gradually recognized that your body felt better when you ate healthier food. When you were younger, you didn’t notice how food affected you. Now you do — you learned the lesson. This provides you with an opportunity for generating good karmic patterns, because you are potentially strengthening the divine temple of your body with your intelligent daily choices.
You potentially create good karma each day, and even in each moment, in the small choices you make. You have this opportunity each day, at each meal, with each bite, because you are either choosing food that helps you feel more conscious, or you are choosing food that lowers your consciousness.
It’s a simple choice, and many karmic choices are. That is the elegant simplicity of karma — each time you make a healthy choice, you create good karma. But not because the universe is rewarding you — it is because you are building a healthy positive pattern. So if you’ve learned the lesson that healthy food feels better, then you use that opportunity each day to make healthier choices.
Or, maybe you used to enjoy making fun of others, or gossiping about them. You came to realize that this activity lowered your vibration. It didn’t feel good any more. But the tendency may still be there, and so your karmic opportunity each day is to find healthier ways to communicate. Each time you make the healthier choice, your good karma grows, and your negative karma lightens and releases.
You might be wondering how people can learn at all, since they seem to be so affected by ignorance, confusion, and illusions. Actually, you learn through experience, and when those experiences don’t feel good, you do some deep soul-searching. That is the secret of karmic improvement, because soul-searching leads you to your deeper soul wisdom. Alignment with your soul is the key to improving your karmic situation.
When you gradually realized that your negative actions were hurting you, you gradually learned to explore different choices in thought and action. Your soul helped you to consider these possibilities. That is why some people are referred to as older souls. It is not that they are automatically wise, but that they have more experiences that they have learned from. The older souls have cultivated a deeper soul alignment that they can draw upon, but the younger souls still tend to get stuck in their automatic reactive thoughts and behaviors.
But before you start judging those reactive younger souls, remember that your judgmental response to them is curiously automatic and reactive. You are learning how to notice things, without getting stuck in a dramatic response. And that leads you to the third way to improve your karma:
3. Release your condemnation and judgment about yourself and others, so that you can calmly explore the best options, and take your karmic lessons to the next higher level.
For example, suppose you experienced that when you rudely condemned and gossiped about people, it created bad energy for you, and only spread bad vibrations around. You noticed this, it didn’t feel pleasant, and so you vowed to minimize that kind of behavior. But what about your own self-talk — the voice in your own head that condemns and gossips about you?
This is an example of taking your karmic lessons to the next level. You learned what happened when you judged others harshly. Now you’re learning what happens when you judge yourself in that same rude way. So you always take the old lessons, and discover each day how you can refine them, and take them to that next level. In this example, you notice the judgmental inner voice, you thank it for sharing, and you re-write its judgmental words so that they are more empowering and useful.
Each day, you have the chance to look at your behavior, and to look at people around you, and there are amazing karmic opportunities in how you respond to what you see. You can notice when you find yourself going into an automatic reaction pattern — you can even shift it in mid-conversation.
Who do you think is most apt to judge others who are gossiping? That’s right — the person who is still working on that karmic lesson. How do you know if you’re still working on the lesson? Well, if you’re quick to condemn others who do it, then it’s still your lesson. Otherwise, you’d be more accepting of other people learning their own lessons. You would recognize that everyone is your mirror — showing you your past and present issues and patterns.
But how can you recognize that another person is acting inappropriately, while not condemning them? Don’t you have to dislike or condemn what is wrong? There is a higher way that takes daily practice, and it is the key to moving forward spiritually:
Learn to calmly observe, while clearly recognizing the lesson, and yet without emotionally judging.
This is a powerful way to discover your higher truth, and to generate good karma. It bypasses denial, it bypasses condemnation, and it leads to your being able to recognize positive choices. When you center yourself, you are able to act on wisdom, because you align with your deeper soul wisdom.
The behavior that you see in other people is a mirror for you, because you see your own patterns, past and present, in their behavior. When you have an abrupt emotional reaction, that suggests that you are still judging your own patterns. Your reactive attitude suggests that you have not forgiven yourself for your own patterns.
If you are unforgiving to yourself, then you create a division within yourself, because the condemned part of the self can become angry, shameful, and resentful. This can lead to bad behavior. However, when you acknowledge your patterns, with love and non-judgment, then you can calmly shift your behaviors in a healthy direction.
Whether you see bad patterns in yourself, or in another, that is a karmic opportunity. Noticing the problem, and recognizing healthier alternative behaviors, is an important step. Stepping out of the judgmental attitude is another important step in creating good karma. The non-judgmental path lets you calmly consider the options for yourself, and lets other people live their lessons at their own pace.
Notice that whether you see another person gossiping, for example, or whether you find yourself starting to gossip, the lesson is there. In fact, the instant you find yourself moving down the negative pathway that looks familiar, and you sense that it is wrong, that is the perfect time to create some good karma. It is the crossroads of your karmic path.
This is the decisive moment when your soul is sharing its wisdom with you. You are able to sense how something in your behavior doesn’t feel right. Anything that you do to switch to a healthier path, in that moment, is a powerful inner victory.
Each positive choice means that you are reinforcing your soul connection, learning from your past mistakes, and doing something to improve your karma. Patterns take time to change, and so your goal is to make as many small healthy karmic choices each day as you can. Every shift in your consciousness builds healthy karma, and melts old karmic negativity away.
In the world of karma, there is no total success, and no total failure. Karma is a dynamic system, and your karma is shifting in subtle ways every day. There is no such thing as being totally good, or totally bad. That is the beauty of karmic patterns, because the patterns are always dynamically shifting in accord with your moment to moment thoughts and actions.
This means that whatever your situation may be, it can change. You are not permanently condemned. It also means that even when you create good patterns, the effect is good, of course, but it is not permanently good. It’s sobering to realize that even if you have generated tremendously good karma, that can change each day if you start generating negative karma. You have a choice in each moment.
Your thoughts and actions, in each moment, are building your karma, for better or worse. Your soul wants to help you. Tune into your inner wisdom. Slow your mental chatter, feel your breathing, and get a sense of your deeper truth. If you aren’t certain of the healthy alternatives for a situation, ask your soul to guide you to those positive choices. Let the wiser choices come to your attention.
Life brings you the opportunity to learn, through the circumstances that emerge for you each day. You have the three ways to improve your karma, and you can use them each day to build your positive energy in alignment with the highest good. To sum up, the three ways are:
1. Learn by observing other people — and also bless them.
2. Learn from your own lessons — do have high standards — and bless yourself, too.
3. Release judgment, so that you can take your lessons to the next level of excellence.
Where do you start? Begin with bringing your attention to each moment. Gently shift any moment, in a subtle way, into a more positive direction. Create small victories, and you will find that you can generate a positive karmic path for yourself.
For now, notice your breathing, and discover how you can be more gently present in this moment. Be calmly aware of your chattering inner self-talk, without judging it. When you discover the quiet voice of inner truth — deeper and more subtle than the chattering voice, you’re beginning to hear the deep teaching presence of your soul. May each day bring you into ever deeper alignment with the stable love and wisdom that your cosmic soul eternally shares with you.
Joel Bruce Wallach
Founder, Cosmic Living – spiritual instruction via tele-classes and home-study mp3’s