Living the peaceful state of ‘Karma yoga‘ would take you close to enlightenment. Mortals usually start with understanding the concept, understanding how certain aspects can be implemented in their daily lives and attempting to stay consistent with the effort. Everything is easier said than done, we are tested at every corner, and our lives go on, one after the other.
What is Karma yoga?
<thank you, Wikipedia> Karma yoga, or the “discipline of action” is a form of yoga based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit scripture of Hinduism. Of the three paths to realization, karma yoga is the process of achieving perfection in action.
When an archer picks up the bow and stretches the string taking careful aim, he knows not whether it would be a kill, neither can he control what happens once he lets go off the arrow. As a result, he is taught to focus on the action of taking aim (the present) instead of focusing on what might happen to the arrow (the future).
When we focus our energies on the present action, we perform to a certain capacity. Wasting our breath on an imagined future yields no results. Vain is the fear of not performing – for if you do not work towards it now, the imagined failure becomes real. This inconsequential fear creates anxiety, an energy sapping emotion, and we waste time. Ensuring skill in present action ensures quality delivery.
Working for a Reward
When you work without expectations of the future – you experience an enviable peace – for the present work gives you immense joy and you are free of all fears. While we understand the theory behind the concept, our conditioning fails to truly grasp how powerful this detachment is. Every pitch an entrepreneur makes, every project that an employee successfully delivers is with a reward in mind. It’s only human to work hard for a reward.
Thus, we end up traveling from point A to point B with our eyes fixed on the carrot. We do not enjoy the journey, allowing it to take a toll on our health & relationships. We do not live in the present but believe in the supreme happiness that a material reward might result in. The experience adds to the anxiety, and leaves the door ajar for disappointment in case the reward is not satisfying enough. Have one espresso, you would always need another.
Happiness Equals High Performance
Burning yourself out with late hours and vigorous multi tasking is never advised. Organisations encourage teams to take leave, collaborate, follow their individual passions and be happy. Because a good sleep makes your brain healthier. A happy co worker is preferred over a sullen one. Smiles close deals, sullen nods do not. Having a family back home helps handling uncertainty easier. However, individuals are masters of their own destiny.
Skill in Action
How can we attempt to be happy working despite everything that exists? How can we get out of the anxious chain of thoughts, and be more productive?
- Have a long term goal – envision yourself 10 years down the line – what are you doing – what are you wearing – who are you with – though an exercise in vagueness, it offers a vision and makes you feel a certain essential emotion.
- Align your present with the long term vision – change what you have to in the present so you feel you are on the right track. How do you know what you feel is ‘right’? Because what you feel/experience/believe in is the only truth that matters in your life. Once the changes have been made,
- Have short term goals and set weekly targets – achieve them – this will help you stay on track to meet your long term goal.
- In case of any perceived disappointment – think about your long term goal, check if your performance has been optimum, check what improvements can be made and set going
- Thus, you leave little or no scope of unproductive unhappiness and anxiety – for you are on a constant self analysis and a self improvement cycle.
Handling Daily Tasks with Joy
It is easy to whine, it is easy to complain, it is easy to feel jealous, it is easy to feel sorry for yourself. However, it takes strength to realize that that’s not the way to live, it takes iron will to get out of your warm bed and build yourself. Anxiety and Fear are always around the corner, and inviting them in is a psychological trap. We are powerful enough to accept all critical feedback with grace, seeing it as an opportunity to be better than what we are. Thus getting one step closer to what we seek to achieve.
Applying these basic Vedic principles lead to a fulfilling ‘practical life with material successes’, if there is such a thing. Happiness usually manifests as wealth, joy usually manifests as steady growth at what you love doing, love manifests as everything you’re fond of being around you.
Karma yoga would help you deal with a tough work environment, and might help you realize that it is touch only because you have been perceiving it as ‘tough’. Skill in present action is the way to go :)