All of us have habits or tendencies that bring us suffering. Though repeatedly we may try to change these patterns, they follow us around like a cloud of gnats. This is the result of the law of karma: Every action we take is a cause that has an effect, an effect that sometimes follows us even from lifetime to lifetime. These effects can be good or bad, freeing or binding, depending on the action involved.

When confronted with the effects of our past bad actions, how should we respond? It is natural, and good, to do what we can to minimize those effects. If we have poor health, we can take steps to improve it such as seeing a doctor, taking medication, improving our diet, or exercising appropriately.

In themselves, however, steps like these will not eliminate the underlying cause. To do that, as anyone aspiring to soul freedom must, we need to use the power of our mind to resist old patterns. At the same time, we should seek to replace bad habits with good ones. It’s like putting up a protective cloth over our mental garden so that the seeds of bad karma cannot germinate. Past karma then has much less power to harm us. Moreover, those karmic seeds, starved of nourishment from repetition of past bad actions, wither and die.

Most effective of all is to meditate. Each time we meditate deeply, beneficial changes take place in the patterns of our brain. Here is a meditation technique that Paramhansa Yoganandaji gives us to destroy the seeds of past karma.


First, meditate upon the thought “I and my Father are one,” trying as you do so to feel great peace and joy in your heart. When joy comes, mentally affirm: “Father, Thou art with me. I command Thy power within me to cauterize my brain cells of wrong habits and past seed tendencies.” Finally, affirm and pray: “I command my brain cells to change, to destroy the grooves of bad habits that have made a puppet out of me. Lord, burn them up in Thy divine light.” Do this technique repeatedly with great concentration, and over time you will feel ever freer.

Swami Kriyananda gave us an image that is very helpful in destroying the effects of our past actions. He said rooting out old karma is like trying to pull a nail out of a board. Using the prongs of a hammer, we keep pulling, but cannot know how much of the nail remains in the board. We do not know when, but one day, after continued effort, the nail pops out. The karma is over, and we are free.

A friend of ours recently told us an illustrative story. He was directing a team of people on a new project. Unfortunately, one person on the team was resistant to our friend’s guidance; he was openly critical and challenging, even hostile. Our friend reacted negatively, and though he didn’t show it, was resentful. Some old karma had come into play.

Praying deeply to God to be able to lead the team impartially and effectively, our friend was preparing to meet with the team. Just as he was getting in the car, he felt the karma lift: “like a nail coming out of a board,” he said. He felt inwardly free, and the project moved forward harmoniously.

Paramhansa Yogananda wrote, “Don’t blame God or anyone else if you are suffering from disease, financial problems, or emotional upsets. You created the cause of the problem in the past and must make a greater determination to uproot it now.” So let’s face the self-created challenges that come to us in life, until, with indomitable will, we realize that nothing can keep us bound in our journey towards soul freedom.

Your friend in God,

Nayaswami Devi