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Growing up in India, talk of Karma was all around me. "You reap what you sow,” I would hear people say. I grew into adulthood believing that I needed to do good deeds to get good results later in my life. It was like a carrot and stick—“you better do good deeds or God/Universe is going to get you."
Often, believers in Karma think about the cause and effect of their actions when making important decisions in life but also while their minds are running thoughts at 150 miles per hour. All sorts of thoughts—and I would say, predominantly negative thoughts, about how things can go wrong or might not work out or how they are less than someone else or not enough or not good enough in comparison to others.
Last year, one of my teachers talked about Karma and the seeds we sow at a micro level i.e. the kind of thoughts we think and the kind of assumptions we make—moment to moment. It changed my perception of how I actually create my reality. Every time I think that I am not good enough, I am in reality, sowing a seed in my subconscious and laying a path that will lead to me proving to myself that “I am not good enough… " and vice versa.
Now, while it was good to intellectually understand this, I discovered that it was a totally different thing to change my thoughts and start thinking, say, positive thoughts. Our brains are creatures of habit. Once we get into a habit of worrying, which many of us do from quite early on in our lives, it is extremely hard to change because it becomes embedded at a deep unconscious level.
For instance, I recently had the experience of an old childhood trauma being triggered. When I was a young man living in India someone had pulled a gun on me. I had spent weeks afterwards in a state of terror. Over time, however, the memory became deeply buried in my psyche. That is, until a couple of months ago, when something completely unrelated triggered the trauma, leaving me with a 24/7 fear-based narrative, running in my mind.
Intellectually I knew that I needed to change the narrative to something more positive but found myself unable to. It was almost like an addiction that I had no control over. And then one day, when I couldn’t take it any more, when my mind was consumed by fear and negativity, I felt that I had no choice but to pray. Thereafter, every time I had a negative or fear-based thought that I was conscious of, I reverted to praying. And every time I did so, my mind would calm down and my entire body would relax. After a while it got to a point that whenever my mind was empty I would automatically fill it with a prayer, which I ran in an infinite loop.
I don’t know if I have found a hack that believers have known for ever, or whether I have found a hack for Karma. However, I do know that after struggling with changing my habitual thoughts, filling my mind with prayer has pushed out the negativity and left me in a state of peace.