Everyone is always wondering how to get rid of bad karma, but aren't quite sure what that means. I was born and raised in India, where I grew up hearing the word karma as part of everyday conversation.
But for the Western world, karma has a bit of a different meaning.
What is bad karma?
Negative karma is created through negative thoughts, actions, emotions and intentions, which lead to negative behavior. When you say or do anything in a hurry without being mindful, that's called bad action, and it results in bad karma.
For example, when the earth shakes sightly and one snowflake gets dislodged, it begins to roll downhill, attracting other loose snowflakes. Over time this results in an avalanche.
One negative thought, word, or action is an energy particle that attracts other "like" energy particles, and soon you are directly in the energy field of bad karma.
In Sanskrit, karma, means the fruits of your action. In Buddhism, the word is Kamma.
Buddha propounded it as the laws of causality which states that every cause leads to an effect and the effect is the cause of one more effect.
In physics, it is labeled as "cause and effect." Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics states that “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
In Christianity, the proverb “as you sow, so you reap” hints at karma. When you sow a seed, a plant that grows from the seed bears many fruits and each fruit has one or more seeds. Some plants bear fruit for a very long time.
Can karma be both good and bad?
It's wise to remember that, yes, karma can be both good and bad.
The ultimate aim of a yogi or a spiritual aspirant is to redeem themselves of both good and bad karma. Since good karma is the fruit of good actions, and because every action leads to another, good karma could lead to bad karma.
For example, you might see people with lots of friends who still feel lonely. You might notice people with tons of money struggling with legal suits or hardships in areas of health, relationships, peace of mind, and so on.
Can you reverse bad karma?
Getting rid of karma is not easy, but it is possible for the sincere person.
The Hindus practice Sadhana (intentional practice) to negate the effects of negative karma. Spiritual leader Amma Sri Karunamayi says “Through your Sadhana, you create a positive force field that could minimize your negative karma of a mountain into a pebble or a dust particle.”
A great starting point is to consider your karma as bad breath.
You have to brush your teeth, scrape your tongue and rinse your mouth to enjoy fresh breath, don't you? Even if you have not eaten in a while or are fasting, you might have bad breath. This comes from your gums, food pipe, and your stomach.
Karma is like that. It arises from past lives and previous generations. If your parents and ancestors before them did something unwholesome, you might inherit the karma of your ancestors.
If in your past life you entertained unwholesome thoughts, words or actions, karma catches up with you. So take responsibility for your actions. If you have done something bad, rectify it.
For example, if you hurt someone, apologize. Fill your life with love, kindness and understanding, and soon your bad karma can be reversed.
What are the signs of bad karma?
There are several signs of bad karma, ranging from trying to please everyone to feeling fearful to having a horrible attitude. One of the main signs you have bad karma is if you are wallowing in negative thoughts.
Other signs include:
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling entitled
How to Get Rid of Bad Karma
If you've been wondering how to get rid of bad karma, following these guidelines should be your first step on a path to a new journey.
1. Identify your karma.
The first thing you should do when trying to get rid of bad karma is to identify it. Figure out where the problem lies, then start planning a solution.
Do you see any patterns? If so, break them and stop the karmic cycle you may be creating.
2. Do a daily spiritual cleanse.
Each night before bed, focus on a spiritual cleanse when you begin your journey of freeing yourself from all karmic debts, whether they are good, bad, or ugly.
The spiritual cleansing ritual is a prayer. It is most effective if you write it out each night while speaking it out loud as well, for at least 40 days. After 40 days, you can say it out aloud to keep up the momentum.
The following two prayers are from the Vedic scriptures:
Prayer#1: "With my body, speech, mind, senses, intellect, self-effort or natural tendencies, through these actions I perform, I dedicate everything to the Universe and ask the fruits of all actions be dissolved into the cosmos."
Prayer#2: "With a prayerful and humble heart, I ask my creator to forgive me for any action undertaken by me with my hands, feet, speech, ears, eyes, through my body and my mind. Also, I ask for forgiveness for doing required deeds incorrectly and not doing what is necessary."
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3. Practice forgiveness regularly.
Whenever in doubt, say the prayer, "Forgive me, for I know not what I do." This prayer can be used anytime you feel stuck, lost, overwhelmed or for any negative emotion surging within.
If you feel like someone around you is acting out and negatively impacting you or anyone in your space, say it as often as you must in your mind: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."
4. Focus on balance.
The universe always strives for balance. No positive or negative energy can exist on its own. Every positive force has an equal and opposite negative component to balance it.
When someone engaged in negativity gets you to focus on positivity, this brings a balance. So in the end, bad karma isn't all bad.
Your prayer has to help you first before the energy can be transmitted to the environment. The negative impact of someone's bad karma is negated through your positive action. So, if you ask me, "Is bad karma bad?" I would say, "No."
5. Focus on peace and contentment.
Your good fortune is a blessing from your thoughts, words, and actions of past lives and your ancestors. Give gratitude for each good experience. Share your blessings with those you cross paths with on a daily basis.
This pays off your karmic debts. When you live in gratitude, you redeem yourself of bad karma and the burden of good karma too. You learn non-attachment, experience personal freedom, and live a lighter life.
Generosity begins in the heart. You learn to treat others the way you want to be treated.
6. Think introspectively.
Bad times are a great opportunity to reflect and take responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions. Through honest self-reflection, you figure out how you attracted negative karma. You made choices that resulted in affliction.
Your losses through bad karma are the price you pay for the lessons you need to learn. Once you are wiser, you make different choices that reduce the pain from the bad karma and ensure you never attract it again. Having a personal spiritual mentor helps, too.
7. Cut toxic people out of your life.
One sure way to get rid of bad karma is to remove toxicity from your life. That includes some bad apples you may have around you.
It's time to sever ties with people who are creating problems and giving you horrid advice. These people may encourage your bad behavior. It's important for you to surround yourself with harmony and positive people.
8. Take responsibility for your actions.
Another simple way to try to get rid of bad karma is to take responsibility for your actions. If you have done wrong, correct it. If you have hurt someone, apologize. Change your behavior to be more kind and more positive.
Try making sure your family members do good instead of bad or you may adopt their bad karma. Start auditing your past mistakes and reckon with the fact that you did mess up and need to correct them.
Understand that negative thoughts will lead to negative behavior which will result in negative karma. You get what you give.
Keya Murthy, M.S., works as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Spiritual Life Coach at the Ventura Healing Center. She is also an international bestselling author. Keya is passionate about helping her clients move beyond their circumstances to find their purpose and authentic happiness in life.