When you reflect upon the cycles and patterns of your life, what themes beam most brightly out of the kaleidoscopic illumines? Perhaps you recognize relationship dynamics that repeat frequently; maybe you have been drawn toward risk-taking or rescuing behaviors; certain places may beckon you from afar; or you may find that physical prowess or vulnerability comprises a significant piece of your personal road map through Life. Whatever the case, these inclinations may well be indices of your karmic imprint.

The word “imprint” is a nod to a friend who recently introduced me to the subject of epigenetics. In this field, scientists explore the ways in which the expression of our genetic imprint can change, while the underlying DNA sequencing remains constant. For example, environmental factors, including fuel exhaust, pesticides, and radioactivity, that can cause disease may be passed on genetically; the “order” in which the genes combine does not change, but their expression—in this case, of health—alters.

Epigenetics may be seen as the scientific analogue to the spiritual concept of karma. Our bodies serve as the holding vessel for all of the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual experiences had in previous lifetimes: This karmic “sequencing” consistently weaves through a lifetime of lifetimes; however, the expression of karmic “data” changes with regard to circumstance and personality. For example, part of your karmic path may be strewn with issues concerning money: Perhaps the way to reconcile this karma is to strengthen your financial situation, or perhaps the task is to learn to live with less material wealth. Regardless, how this situation “looks” and plays out in this lifetime is its “expression,” which will look different in a different context, including your next incarnation.

If the karmic imprint remains with us from one lifetime to the next, why bother to reckon with it? Epigenetics show how environmental factors can alter gene expression and contribute to physical disease and disorder; one would not disregard a need for healing these conditions. Essentially, the closer one can get to a “clean slate” for the foundational sequencing, the better the news will be for the next generation’s health. The same idea rings true for one’s karma: Yes, the particular combination of roles and duties will remain consistent through eternity; however, I view one’s task in each lifetime is to be a good steward for the Soul. When karmic patterns rise to the fore in their current, contextually driven expression, one does well to address them and resolve them to the best of one’s ability. In this way, the Soul moves into its next iteration in as optimal a state as possible.

Still to Come: Part Three—Bodies of Work

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