Karma is the idea that you reap what you sow.
One of the reasons I love studying with Shanon is that she teaches the principals of yoga--the ideas behind the physical practice.
Shanon explained that in yoga, karma is part of a cycle that begins with our thoughts and actions. We think, then do. Over time, repeated thoughts and actions create impressions. As we continue this, they become tendencies. It is these tendencies that result in karma (effects) which then prompts more thoughts and actions for us.
Okay, so let's take this practical. Let's say I have the thought "I'm ugly" and that prompts me to walk around feeling bummed all day. Over time, that ugly bummed feeling becomes a pattern and that pattern results in self-sabotage. I don't treat myself well because I don't feel like I'm worth treating well. We've experienced these cycles, right?
The point to all of this is that any change in our experience has to occur at the thought level. I love Louise Hay's phrase: "It is only a thought, and a thought can be changed."
I believe the barrier we have to this is that we believe all of our thoughts are right, factual and true. But that isn't the case. We have errors in thinking all the time. Not only that, but we believe that our limited perspective is all there is. One of the great keys to life is to learn that we have control over our thoughts. Our brains process information. How it processes and where we direct it is up to us. We have the ability to take control over our thoughts.
Shanon went on to talk about grace. (She had read Bono's article about Grace and Karma earlier in the week.) Her idea was that grace begins with a thought of surrender. We surrender to God and that begins the cycle of grace.
Here's the thing, when we are starting this, we don't have to overhaul our whole mental hard drive. Changes to our thoughts can start small. We can pick an area and begin to affect change.