Tag Archives: karma yoga

Karma Yoga


I would like to keep my spiritual life simple. The books I have been reading I certainly understand intellectually and the sing to my heart. I truly love this new found spiritual thirst.

However, I need to keep my feet on the ground. I have not been much of a "normal citizen" and working and living in this world is a far cry different matter than living the life of a yogi which frankly seems quite appealing.


Maybe the answer for you is the path of the karma yogi. You maintain a basic daily spiritual practice, but live and express your spiritual growth in the workaday world of family and career responsibilities. Karma means action, and a karma yogi does not retreat from the world, he embraces it and transforms it through his own inner transformation. This keeps your feet on the ground while your spirit is free to soar.




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This is My Heaven on Earth

Joy. Seeping out like the gritty brown grout we spread between the bathroom tiles each day as we wiped the salt of sweat and sea from our brows. Swelling up over and over again, like waves rising from the ocean. Lighting up our spirits like an explosive orange and pink tropical sunset. Uninhibited, heartfelt joy.

This was my predominant feeling state for the past 10 days, as I led my first Karma Yoga Adventure in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. And I believe it’s safe to say the same holds true for each of the six magnificent women and one brave man who traveled with me. The journey combined my greatest passions into one absolutely spectacular life experience: volunteer service; yoga; surfing and other outdoor sports such as hiking, biking, swimming and snorkeling; fresh, organic local food; all served up in a postcard-perfect tropical setting. (View my photos of the trip on Facebook.)

Our days were jam packed with joy-creation possibility. We began at 6:30am with a two-hour meditation and yoga class, which I led in a studio at our simple yet cheerful hotel. By the time we said our final “Oms” we were starving, so we raced off to an entirely made-from-scratch breakfast at Bread and Chocolate, run by our buddy Tom. We’d then gather up our water bottles and sun hats, and walk two blocks over to the local elementary school for our five daily hours of volunteer work.

Alex Fang, the irrepressibly positive and hilarious founder of San Francisco-based non-profit Surf for Life was our troupe leader, not only organizing our meals and lodging, but also managing us and the locals he’d hired to help with the service component of the trip. Throughout the week, we completely renovated two bathrooms and tiled a classroom floor. Most of us had little to no prior construction experience. We learned on the fly to tile and grout, we sanded and primed wood to build a roof over the bathroom area, we laughed, danced, and reveled in our filthy, stinky state at the end of each day.

We’d take off mid-afternoon for some R&R, usually heading to the beach for surfing or just lying out and reading our books. One day, we hiked to a two-story tall waterfall and plunged in for a swim. Standing with my back pressed into the slippery rocks just next to the torrent, my travel companions gathered around, feeling the slice of the crisp water as it plunged relentlessly forward, I never felt so vigorously alive.

One afternoon while working at the school, we had unexpected visitors. A group of kids came by with their music teacher, Carlos, and played a short concert to thank us for our efforts. The site and sound of these youngsters plucking and strumming at their guitars, offering up their simple, haunting tunes in gratitude, made my heart well over with happiness.

I believe what made the adventure most rewarding was how it bonded us so powerfully to each other and to our own higher selves. Not a single one of us brought a partner along. This was in no way your typical tropical vacation, comprised mostly of lounging in beach chairs, consuming fruity drinks and romantic sunset dinners, or even dashing off each day to tour the sites and pack in physical activities. Although without a doubt vacation fun was on the agenda, we had a greater purpose—to be of service. I watched as each woman blossomed throughout the week, grounded in her commitment to making the world a better place, but best of all, connected to her own innate power.

I can’t wait to do it again! Hope you’ll join my next Karma Yoga Adventure.

Spiritual Stagnation: What Is Missing In Your Life RIght Now?

If you approach life as a student matriculating through levels of spiritual growth, what most people call ruts are more like semester breaks. Or, to switch metaphors, if you’re on an ever-ascending spiritual path, the ruts are plateaus. In my own life, and when working with people who feel spiritually stagnant, I find that the feeling of a rut comes with a sense that something is missing.

Therefore, the usual question—“Should I stop doing what feels like a rut?”—is incomplete without also asking, “What else can I do?” We are fortunate nowadays to have a vast curriculum to choose from—although the number of choices can be paralyzing in itself. In that context, I find it helpful to think in terms of the four classical yogas, or pathways.

1. Jnana yoga, the path of the mind. Generally speaking, this is the road traveled by those inclined to study sacred texts and contemplate spiritual concepts. In its purest form, however, it trains the aspirant to distinguish the real from the unreal, the eternal from the perishable, the Self from the non-Self, the Truth from illusion. The ultimate goal is to transport the mind beyond itself, to the realm of absolute spirit. The approach of learning, however, can serve the interim purpose of giving us insight and fresh understanding.

2. Bhakti yoga, the path of the heart. Worship, devotion and love are the hallmarks of this road. It is favored by those who are driven more by feeling than by thought. The object of worship might be a god-like incarnation such as Jesus or Krishna, a revered figure from religious history such as Buddha or the prophet Muhammad, or a living personage such as a guru or a revered cleric—any of whom might be adored as a representative of the ultimate Reality. For some, the focal point of devotion is a spouse, a child or the unspoiled natural world.

3. Karma yoga, the path of action. Favored by individuals who are drawn to the pursuit of worthy goals, this approach demands ego-free detachment from the fruits of one’s efforts. One works selflessly, with no thought of personal gain and with complete absorption, as if every action were an offering to the Divine.

4. Raja yoga, psycho-physiological path. This pragmatic path emphasizes the disciplined use of mental and physical practices. Meditation, prayer, yoga postures, chanting, breathing exercises and the like are systematically used to open the mind to the Sacred and to cultivate within the nervous system the capacity to sustain higher states of awareness.

Those are the four broad pathways, and aspirants will favor one of them over the course of their lives, according to their personalities and preferences. But few of us confine our path to only one. We incorporate elements of all four, because they complement one another, and the proportions shift as our developmental needs change. That’s why the perspective is useful when ruts/semester breaks/plateaus come along. It can help you sort out the possibilities when you ask yourself, “What do I need at this stage of development?”

Maybe what you need to move into the next phase is something for your mind. Do you need to gather information? Learn something new? Find out what wise ones have to say about something that perplexes you?

Or do you need some bhakti? Maybe you’ve been in your head too much, and what seems like a rut is your heart calling out for some nourishment. What would crack open the love? Worship? Chanting? A silent walk in nature? Spending time with children?

Maybe the rut-like feeling comes from thinking about your problems too much. If so, maybe you need a dose of karma yoga. Serve a cause. Volunteer. Do something entirely selfless for someone.

Or maybe you need to shake up your nervous system with a new practice of some kind. A different type of yoga? A new form of meditation? A fast, or a different diet?

You get the picture. The point is, instead of focusing on what feels boring or dull—the rut itself—shift to what might be missing and how to fill the void.

I looked up the origin of the word rut. It shares a common ancestor with route and roar. Somehow, I find that inspiring. A rut is on the route to higher being, and we can burst through it with a roar.

Looking for simplicity

I am just over 90 days clean and sober. The few books I have read by you have been a great help. I am very grateful.

I would like to keep my spiritual life simple. The books I have been reading I certainly understand intellectually and they sing to my heart. I truly love this new found spiritual thirst.

However, I need to keep my feet on the ground. I have not been much of a “normal citizen” and working and living in this world is a far cry different matter than living the life of a yogi which frankly seems quite appealing.
First of all congratulations on your ninety days of sobriety. It makes sense that you would like to keep your feet on the ground and things in your life simple so that you can maintain a greater sense of awareness about your decisions moving forward. The appeal of a yogi

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