With origins in ancient India, the term karma stems from the sanskrit word for “action, work or deed.” Karma not only applies to tangible actions like our words and deeds, it also applies to unseen energies like thoughts, intentions and emotions.
Under the spiritual law of karma, our intent and actions (cause) directly influence our future, and therefore our present (effect). For example, good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness; bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering.
Though the vocabulary may be different, spiritual practitioners of all religions from Christianity to Islam embrace the universal principle of cause and effect in their teachings. And for most followers of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, overcoming karma is considered essential for spiritual evolution.
The law of karma can be especially helpful when confronted with relationship challenges. According to psychotherapist Dr. Charles Richards, bestselling author of Karmic Relationships: Healing Invisible Wounds, what we think, do, and say when interacting with others helps create our future. That future is either desirable or undesirable based on the quality of our actions, thoughts and how we treat other people.
Richards believes each of us has an eternal soul which carries a detailed record of all we have ever consciously or unconsciously experienced in this and past lives. Like Newton’s law of physics, this karmic record reflects back to us whatever energy we have created in the past.
Though it may be difficult to accept, karma helps us recognize that difficulty in our relationships with family, lovers, friends or colleagues at work are never a coincidence. Everything happens for a purpose, a cause that we ourselves set into motion at some point along our soul journey which creates invisible wounds — or blessings — for ourselves and others.
How to tell if you’re in a karmic relationship? Dr. Richards has identified several karmic relationship patterns that can be identified by answering the questions below:
- Do you find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster of extreme highs and lows in this relationship?
- Have you ended this relationship more than once for good reason, only to get back together and continue the same dysfunctional pattern?
- Is one person in this relationship willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice to come to another’s assistance?
- Does the bond of the relationship remain strong even when you’ve been out of contact for long periods of time?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may be in one of several different types of karmic relationships. To help patients heal invisible emotional wounds from present and past lives along with prenatal and birth experiences, Dr. Richards has developed a well-documented therapeutic process for accessing the soul’s wisdom, called Soul Journeying. This non-hypnotic process takes patients into past lives relating to the particular karmic pattern (whether they believe in karma or not), and helps them re-experience and discharge old trauma.
During the process, hidden emotional wounds of fear, anger, loss, and abandonment are confronted and released. Like getting rid of unwanted baggage, once these underlying issues are addressed and resolved a bigger picture emerges as to why the pattern arose in the first place. This empowers patients to step into a higher purpose (dharma) for their life and relationships, and to handle them more consciously. Here, destructive karmic relationship patterns can shift completely without long periods of therapy, analysis and interpretation found in traditional psychotherapy.
Even if you’re not able to have a personal session with Dr. Richards, there is still ways to heal old emotions and hidden wounds in your karmic relationships. Here’s how:
- Practice Vision and Acceptance.
Take a closer look at any unconscious triggers and patterns that frequently emerge in your relationship. Every relationship is a mirror and there are no coincidences. No matter how challenging, practice the art of acceptance, trusting that everything happens for a higher spiritual purpose or cause you’ve set into motion in this life or a previous one for your soul’s evolution.
- Detach Mindfully.
According to Einstein, you can’t solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. Acknowledge your feelings, then create a healthy distance from them, where you can consciously observe them without reacting. If needed, remove yourself from the relationship until you are able to gain a calmer, clearer, more empowered perspective.
A wise person once said, “holding onto resentment is like drinking poison to kill an enemy.” By practicing forgiveness, we free ourselves from the bondage of negative emotions that harm us, and we free others from outdated soul agreements which may no longer serve us.
- Be The Change.
Break the karmic cycle for good by taking 100% responsibility for your experience. No one else can “make” you feel shame, guilt, or anger, only you can. Take a closer look at the beliefs you hold that trigger negative responses, and ask yourself if they are actually true. Note how your actions, thoughts or reactions may have contributed to the problem, and make a healthier choice. Walk away from dead-end relationships, and towards people, places and thought patterns that nurture your best soul qualities.
Whatever karmic history our relationships may have, it is how we think, act and treat others in the present life that matters most. By putting in our best effort to make better choices and act more responsibly today, we can create the life we truly want to live tomorrow.
Forget the past, the vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in the future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now. — Swami Sri Yukteswar