Healing Family Karma.

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Your neurology “holds” your family karma.

The pattern of emotions that were swirling in your early environment continue to swirl in your neurological system…even as you read this!

As your neurological system developed, you were surrounded by family members who were entangled in their own conditioning.

They had been raised and conditioned by people who, themselves, were fragmented. They never learned the spiritual practices that would allow them to re-pattern their neurology, heal their karma, and open to the radiant resources of the Wisdom Heart.

They lived within the parameters of their conditioning.

Their conditioned state formed the emotional climate that you absorbed in the earliest years of your life, when your neurological system was forming and most impressionable.

You adapted, at the most basic level of neurological wiring, to the patterns of incompleteness that surrounded you. You learned to navigate the currents of family dynamics—without even thinking about it.

The patterns that you encoded as a child are still operative.

You absorbed these patterns of conditioning. They reside in the primitive, non-rational structures of your neurology where they continue to scan your environment to keep you safe. They live on as implicit memories —what the yogis called samskaras.

Implicit memories have no expiration date.

The primitive structures of your brain don’t think in terms of yesterday or tomorrow. They’re always on alert asking, “Is it safe now? Now? Now?” They’re on the alert, programmed to react to anything that vaguely resembles danger.
What is danger?

Danger is anything that your conditioning taught you to avoid.

Danger is anything that your parents couldn’t face; anything that triggered their reactivity. Because when your caregivers are reactive they’re not able to…um…give care.

The conditioning isn’t just linked to mother or father (or any particular person).

Your conditioning is coded at the pattern level, so it limits you—not just in your relationship with mother or father but with anyone who mirrors, even subtly, the pattern.

When anything vaguely resembling the danger-pattern arises, the conditioning activates:

If your parents were “afraid” of intimacy, intimacy gets coded as dangerous.

Intimacy gets coded as something to avoid, to manage, to control. You learned—without thinking—to avoid, manage, and control intimacy—ideally before it fully manifested.

That’s why even the whiff, the hint, the suggestion of “danger” is enough to wake up the implicit memory, stimulate the samskara, and ignite the reactive patterns of protection, avoidance, control.

If you grew up in an environment where, to stay safe, you needed to hide your needs and not express your vulnerability, then needs and vulnerability become dangerous and you develop patterns to that allowed you to avoid these danger zones.

The conditioning of formative years—built a neurological structure—an identity and way of relating to your life—that was adaptive…at the time.

But, now those patterns of reactivity get in the way. They get in the way of your love life, your money life, your creative life, your spiritual life.

That’s why healing family karma is so liberating.

Untangling your karmic knots frees huge amounts of life energy. All the energy and consciousness that has been bound up in the conditioned patterns is liberated and available for re-patterning.
Healing family karma transforms not just your family life—it touches your whole life so you:

  • Feel calm, centered and clear when interacting with challenging people.
  • Stop getting stuck in emotional dramas.
  • Liberate yourself from over-whelm, over-responsibility, over-sensitivity..
  • Express yourself—with openness, love, and strength.
  • Deepen your connection to people you care most about.

When it comes to healing family karma, the needs run deep and sometimes despite years of therapy or spiritual work, the patterns still persist.

The patterns that were learned and reinforced in your early years are deeply encoded into your body and mind. You can’t become free by thinking about or even “understanding” your personal history.

You need to connect to a deeper level of being, at a more primary neurological level in order to balance those deeply conditioned patterns and tap the great reservoirs of creativity that are tied up in the karmic drama. At this deeper level—which you will reach through the Healing Karma guided practices—change isn’t hard.

You can transform without struggle.

As a developing child, you didn’t have the neurological structures, the spiritual strength, or the psychological perspective to witness the emotional environment that surrounded you. All you could do was absorb and cope.

Now, even if you’ve long since left your parents’ home, the emotional environment lives on within your consciousness.

This is the good news. Why good news?

Because the implicit memories, the habits of conditioning, and your family karma are patterns of consciousness, and consciousness can be balanced, healed, and transformed through spiritual practice.


The Practice of Changing Our Karma

3 Signs of an Emotionally Unavailable Person 

9 Signs a Bad Relationship Cycle is Ending


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Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons

Photos: elephant archives and courtesy of the author

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Eric Klein

Eric Klein is one of the few people on the planet to be both a bestselling leadership author and lineage holder in a 5,000 year old yoga tradition. His work translates the wisdom traditions into practices and principles for people who want to bring greater spirit, meaning, and authenticity to their work and lives. His award-winning books include You are the Leader You’ve Been Waiting For, Awakening Corporate Soul: Four Paths to Unleash the Power of People at Workand To Do or Not To Do: How Successful Leaders Make Better Decisions. His signature online program The Meditation Habit integrates neuroscience, behavior change technology, and spiritual practice. Learn more at his website.

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anonymous May 26, 2015 5:34am

An enlightening article whose points allowed me to scan my mind for my own examples re family and my mental conditioning. Unfortunately the last part that drops in the process to make us want to know who this writer is and read further on the way, perhaps, reduces the personal touch to a powerful spruiking article to promote business. Yet I agree that any ongoing meditation practice with certain focus will deliver an awareness, thus empowerment to observe little by little those changes in ourselves for the better

anonymous Dec 4, 2014 7:56am

For any of you who are parents—this is exactly the work I do for parents when they are more reactive to their children than they like or understand. My book and work, "When Your Kids Push Your Buttons and What You Can Do About It" is exactly this work that Eric describes so well for any relationship. It directs people to their emptiness, their reactivity. I do believe that cognitive understanding can help a great deal and have seen it change lives and relationships in my work. The spiritual component makes it deepen even further.

anonymous Aug 6, 2014 11:59pm

I disagree that you are automatically coded to react in certain ways. What about people who have spent years in therapy to undo this "conditioning"? Are you saying we are incapable of learning new behavior patterns? What about those of us who consciously choose to not carry family dynamics into another generation? You are always encouraging personal growth. Are you now purporting that we cannot grow and evolve?

    anonymous Dec 4, 2014 7:56am

    Amy – I think Eric is saying exactly what you are. Altho we get the programming in early life, we are absolutely capable of relearning and changing our behavior patterns. I work with so many parents who consciously choose to not carry on their family patterns but who then find themselves reacting to their children in ways they hate and regret, ways that are triggered by exactly what Eric is talking about. He is offering the spiritual component of healing. I offer the cognitive. I believe the two go hand-in-hand.

anonymous Jul 15, 2014 9:11am

Sadly, this described me to a tee. Until I just read your article, I didn't even realize that's why I do some of the things I do. It is so liberating to realize this is why I hold back with people. Now that I understand the why, it will be easier to make changes and allow myself to be more open.

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 2:24pm

Beautifully written

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 9:13am

Sounds suspiciously a lot like Bordeaux’s construct of habitus…. Just given a new name so that you think they’ve come up with some new idea. Read some literature from some old dead sociologists….

anonymous Apr 7, 2014 11:43pm

I have found the use of affirmations to be extremely helpful. A very simple way to reprogramme the mind. I got this from a friend who is an NLP master. It won't happen overnight but it will happen 🙂

    anonymous Oct 21, 2015 10:03am

    Do you have any tips on where to start if we want to try the "affirmations" method ?

anonymous Apr 5, 2014 6:19am

You don't need to take his course. Just meditate, become conscious of your own patterns and your family patterns, and read authors like Thich Nhat Han, Pema Chodron, and Ram Dass. Also invest in a good psychotherapist that you like. My therapist has probably been my best investment to date; she also uses Buddhism as an influence in her practice. Finally, just be an observer and be honest with yourself about your family and your relationships. It has taken me many years, I went to my therapist first at age 37, and at 40 I am finally seeing why my past relationships have been hurtful, and noticing my patterns. I am still learning. Peace on your journeys. (yoga also helps).

anonymous Apr 5, 2014 5:27am

I was excited to read this article to get some information on HOW to heal the effects but feel that it was more of an advertisement with a misleading title to get you to read the article. The article was articulate but did not produce what the title suggests. 🙁

    anonymous Apr 5, 2014 7:50am

    Hey there! You have a point, there. We don't want titles to be misleading. Thanks for your comment!

anonymous Apr 4, 2014 5:43pm

Honestly, I thought this was one of the most eloquently written pieces I've ever read on elephant journal (except for mine, just kidding) and you have articulated so easily what I've understood for a long time but haven't been able to put into words. I thank you for this, HOWEVER I agree that the title is really misleading. You explain how family karma works, and understanding it is definitely a start on the long path to healing it, but you don't say what else to do. This is such a deeply important topic that I sincerely hope you'll expand on it for us and maybe do a series of articles where you can continue to elaborate on this topic.

anonymous Apr 4, 2014 1:21pm

I think the title is very misleading since there is not even one technique offered. If you’re going to subliminally advertise your business then at least give a few FREE tips instead of leading the reader on. Not cool.

anonymous Apr 4, 2014 12:04am

Great read, thanks!

Reprogramming is a difficult but enlightening journey. Kundalini Yoga helps release 'from the roots'. EFT – emotional freedom technique aka Tapping is the most effective and fastest way I've 'reprogrammed' core beliefs and old vows. I've used lots of techniques all backed up with regular meditation to keep me grounded and allowing my physical body catch up. It's not just neurology that changes in my experience. Your entire energy system in the form of chakras, meridian channels, linked with the nervous system that are linked with heart/brain….. . Shift your energy and the rest unravels itself. There are free EFT resources all over the Internet. That's my HOW answer. Hope it helps anyone. Prepare to change everything you thought you were though! And nurture yourself the whole time, it turns you inside out. Connecting with a trained professional whether it yoga or tapping is probably helpful 🙂

Further pondering….. It's evolution in action. Our ego/old reptilian brain only lives to survive as suggested here. All it's ever known. In early humans past we didn't survive if we are not part of the 'tribe'. To be accepted and loyal to our tribe was the key to survival. Even though its not as true today, it still runs in our subconscious in every decision we make. Parental/cultural or otherwise, approval is key, influencing all our decisions! Even when we left home 30 years ago or have no parents. Just Knowing and being conscious of this simple awareness as we make daily decisions, is expansion in itself. Connect with your heart and ask does this truly serve ME or is this to gain approval of others.

    anonymous Oct 21, 2015 10:00am

    Thanks for the advice and wisdom 🙂

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 11:19pm

Great article on the effects of family karma, but it says nothing about how to heal it; which is the title of the article. Very frustrating. I’m gonna send an email suggesting the editors rename it. Cheers, Graham

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 6:25pm

ok, so how do we do it???

    anonymous Apr 3, 2014 6:33pm

    Went and checked out Eric's website and found that he's offering an internet course on How to Heal Family Karma starting next week.

    That course starts at $350US and goes up to $1600US if you want one-on-one coaching. So I guess that's the HOW:

    I'm not sure if the headline delivers what it promises – although the article is a fantastic explanation of what family karma is and how it works. Does that make the headline misleading? I'm not sure….

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 5:27pm

Awesome article and agreed it hit the issues spot on but the 'how to' part would be appreciated greatly for this long suffering child, daughter, sister 🙂

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 2:30pm

Why not mention HOW?

    anonymous Apr 3, 2014 5:22pm

    Start with developing a daily meditation practice.
    Build your capacity to sustain attention and remain in balanced awareness in the face of your most potent family karma symbols (i.e. the people, events, memories that trigger emotional reactivity).
    Of course, as with any practice, knowing how is only useful if you have clear intention – a deep "why" that can support you through the inevitable ups and downs that come as you employ the methods (the how).
    What is your "why"?
    What makes you want to know "how"?
    Why heal your family karma?

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 1:00pm

This doesn’t seem as much like “HOW” to heal family trauma as an article about the fact that it exists and why. Are there suggestions for practices that can aid in the healing? Texts to read? Etc.?

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 12:36pm

Very interesting and something I have been thinking about this week

anonymous Apr 3, 2014 11:29am

So where do I start?

    anonymous Apr 3, 2014 5:15pm

    If you're ready for a deep dive and step-by-step process check out this guided program http://wisdomheart.com/healing-family-karma/

    anonymous Apr 9, 2014 6:32am

    This article was more an advertisement than a blog. If you want to know where to start, go to his link and get ready to spend some money or check out Mooji or Adyashanti or others like them that offer helpful pointing to releasing conditioning for free. You are NOT your conditioning. Ask yourself, "Who am I?" Who believes it is bound? Can you find the one who believes it is bound? If this is difficult or confusing, check out Byron Katie. Another lovely soul that gives very practical help for free.