How to Change Your Karma by Living Consciously

Can you learn how to change your karma? How do you take control of your karma and release negative energy?

To change your karma, you need to live more consciously, being intentional about the karma you’re accumulating rather than acting compulsively. As you develop your knowledge of how karma accumulates, you can better take control of your own karma.

Continue reading to discover how karma accumulates and how you can influence your karma.

Your Relationship to Karma

According to yogi and author of Karma, Sadhguru says you’re in control of your relationship to karma. If you want to learn how to change your karma, here are three ways you can choose to interact with it:

1. You can continue to accumulate karma: According to Sadhguru, every action, thought, and emotion you engage in leaves an imprint that adds to your karma. By living unconsciously and reacting compulsively to life’s situations, you add to your karma. This continuous accumulation establishes thoughts and behavior patterns that determine the course of your life. 

(Shortform note: Sadhguru’s concept of accumulated karma is similar to James Clear’s theory of habit formation in Atomic Habitsthat repeated actions over time shape our identities. Both authors argue that our daily actions, whether positive or negative, gradually accumulate to form habits, which ultimately define who we are. For instance, if a person consistently chooses to react impatiently, they may develop a habit of impatience. Sadhguru would argue that this contributes to their karmic accumulation, and Clear would say it solidifies their identity as an impatient person. In essence, whether viewed through the spiritual lens of karma or the secular perspective of habit formation, our actions and choices have a profound influence on our personal evolution.)

2. You can take control of your karma: Living more consciously allows you to take greater control of your karma. Sadhguru emphasizes that by acting with awareness, you can reduce the impact of your karma on your life, leading to a life of greater clarity and less compulsiveness. 

(Shortform note: One way to practice living more consciously is through mindfulness. In Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn explains that mindfulness is a tool to interrupt an otherwise habitual lack of awareness by offering the opportunity to pause and notice what’s going on around you and inside you. According to Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness practice allows you to make intentional choices, know yourself better, experience the world more fully, and connect with something larger than yourself. These results of mindfulness practice align closely with the outcomes Sadhguru proposes we can achieve by consciously distancing ourselves from our karma: clarity, less compulsiveness, and a stronger grasp of our reality.)

3. You can release yourself from your karma: Beyond the human experience, a higher plane of spiritual existence is possible. The ultimate goal for many spiritual seekers is to transcend the bonds of karma entirely to experience “mukti” or liberation. For Sadhguru, this liberation means transcending the limitations of body and mind to become one with everything and experience life in its full depth and dimension. He explains that when you’re truly liberated, you’re free from the cycles of birth and death, experiencing an eternal sense of peace and union with the cosmos.

(Shortform note: According to Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now, psychedelics have the power to mimic a transcendent experience akin to the spiritual liberation described by Sadhguru. Dass explains that under the influence of psychedelics, you can momentarily dissolve the confines of individual consciousness. However, he emphasizes that these experiences are temporary. While psychedelics may offer a peek into cosmic union, it’s fleeting. Spiritual liberation requires sustained commitment to a spiritual practice.)

How to Take Control of Your Karma

According to Sadhguru, the best way to take control of your karma is to live more consciously. Anytime you act unconsciously—based on memory rather than present and conscious awareness—you accumulate karma. However, conscious actions that are performed with full awareness, intention, and mindfulness can transform your karma, leading to a more balanced, positive life, free from the influence of past conditioning or automatic reactions. 

(Shortform note: In Free Will, philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris argues that we aren’t capable of acting without influence from past conditioning as Sadhgruru describes. According to Harris, free will—a state in which we’re conscious of, and have control over, the processes that give rise to our thoughts and decisions—is an illusion. He explains that all of our decisions are a result of prior causes, environment, or pure chance. Even decisions that we believe we’re making consciously are a result of past conditioning or experiences that influence our choices.)

How to Release Yourself From Karma

According to Sadhguru, the most efficient way to free yourself from karma is to release all attachment to the concept of the self. He explains that by transcending the illusion of separateness and recognizing the interconnected nature of all existence, you can dissolve the boundaries that create karma, leading to a profound sense of oneness with the universe and liberation from the cycle of karma. Releasing all attachment to self will allow you to release your karma all at once. 

(Shortform note: Sadhguru’s perspective on relinquishing attachment to the self as a means of liberation from the cycle of karma specifically challenges the Western conception of individualism, which holds personal identity and autonomy in high regard. The idea of dissolving individual distinctness for the sake of overcoming karma poses an ideological challenge in Western contexts, where personal achievements and individual uniqueness are highly valued. However, advocating detachment from self fits more easily into Eastern philosophies and spiritual traditions, particularly those with roots in Hinduism or Buddhism, which espouse a holistic worldview of universal oneness and transcendence beyond individual selfhood.)

Exercise: Move From Unconscious Action to Conscious Awareness

According to Sadhguru, by transforming our unconscious habits and behaviors into conscious actions, we can begin to take control of our karma and lead a more balanced and positive life less driven by our unconscious internal programming. 

  1. Identify a habitual behavior or action you perform without much thought. This could be anything from a pattern of thought, an emotional reaction, or a routine activity.
  2. Now that you’ve identified this unconscious habit or behavior, how can you increase your awareness of it? What steps can you take to start performing this activity or reacting to this situation more consciously? (For example, people often pick up their phone unconsciously. To become more conscious of doing it, you could ask yourself “why am I doing this?” every time you reach for your phone, and consider the intentions behind your action.)
  3. How do you anticipate these changes will impact you, your experience, or the experience of those around you?
How to Change Your Karma by Living Consciously

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Sadhguru's "Karma" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Karma summary:

  • Yogi Sadhguru's guide to understanding and living by karma
  • The four types of karma and how they impact you
  • Strategies for those who wish to release themselves from the cycle of karma

Becca King

Becca’s love for reading began with mysteries and historical fiction, and it grew into a love for nonfiction history and more. Becca studied journalism as a graduate student at Ohio University while getting their feet wet writing at local newspapers, and now enjoys blogging about all things nonfiction, from science to history to practical advice for daily living.

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