Can you clear Ancestral Karma or the habits and patterns you’ve picked up from generations past?
Tarpana is a practice that helps to clears your ancestral karma. It is one of the practices of Ayurveda that encourage you to remove the karmic burdens you carry and free yourselves to live your lives empowered and connected to the Self: the place of expansion, bliss, and freedom at the core of your being.
When for example, your family has obsessiveness around food, this could possibly relate to a time when there was scarcity around food and your ancestors were literally starving. Have you inherited an innate fear about not having enough to eat or enough money?
My parents grew up in the depression and had to feed a lot of people on very little money. Saving money, not trusting banks, getting out of debt was not a luxury, it was drilled into our being. We started savings accounts at age nine. They passed on a deep fear around money and a feeling that there was never enough onto us. As a result, I tend to work too much and not have enough time for fun, to hang with family, or cultivate social interactions. I am work and success obsessed.
The practice of Tarpana helped me release some of my fear around money. I found that my heart became a lot lighter. I started attracting more clients and have become more easeful around enrolling my programs. That fear of not having enough has started to lift.
My teacher, Cate Stillman, recommends that you do this process quite frequently. It can be done once a year on an anniversary or birthday. If there is a lot of karma to burn, then practice tarpana once a month.
Family Puja – The Ritual
Sarita Rocco, an Ayurvedic practitioner, and yoga teacher recommends creating a Family Puja or altar. This will help you communicate with your ancestors. She suggests that we should not put any living people on this Puja. You are honoring those who have passed on. This creates more clarity in communicating with the ancestors. Add sacred objects like crystals, candles, incense, flowers to this special ancestral puja..
The ritual is really specific. You remember the first level of your ancestors. Perhaps it is your parents or grandparents. You then continue to go back up to seven generations. You will not have as many details or a personal relationship past your grandparents or great grandparents, but the idea is to clear patterns of behavior that have been around for many generations.
For example, perhaps there is a history of alcoholism or drug addiction that goes back several generations. Perhaps there is a history of violence (physical or mental), obesity, diabetes, cancer, eating disorders, mental illness, depression anxiety…
Committing to do the work and clearing the patterns you become the “Golden Link”, breaking the generational stream of behavior or tendencies. My fellow teacher, Rudrani Farbman, recommends doing rituals, practices and some serious self-inquiry to become this “Golden Link”. All of this work is a part of the practice of Yoga called Atma Vichara or self inquiry.
Laws of Karma
In the yoga community, we talk about cause and effect and the study of Karma. Carlos Pomeda, a Sanskrit scholar, and teacher of yoga philosophy was clear that most of us have a Facebook understanding of Karma. He explains that you constantly see on Facebook people sharing that they are not worried because the creep that left them, the idiot that cut them off in traffic, or the boss that fired them will get what is coming to them through the laws of Karma. Almost like vengeance is mine!!
The simplistic vengeance theory is flawed. There is no one counting grace and penance in the sky keeping track on a giant abacus. However, we are accumulating the effects of our choices. If I stay up late working on this blog I will feel really tired and foggy minded tomorrow. I am borrowing on tomorrow’s energy tonight instead of getting my butt to bed to get a full night’s rest.
Right understanding says that cause and effect of karma mean that the behavior and choices we make will have an effect on our health and well being.
How to Break the Samskaras
How to break this Samskara? Samskara is a pattern of behavior that was initiated in early life that becomes automatic and unconscious.
Start by lighting a candle on the family puja. Then place a flower on the altar and light incense. Offer each person something they really loved, going through each generation one by one. It could be their favorite food. A traditional offering which works well if you do not know much about them is to offer them a teaspoon of milk, a teaspoon of water, and a teaspoon of black sesame seeds. After offering it to them, you eat the offering for them.
Offer them appreciation and gratitude for the gift of life you received through them. Do not judge them for their behavior or choices. Forgive them for what hurt you received around them. Repeat this for each parent, grandparent and great grandparents up to seven generations.
Maya Tiwara recommends “you either carry your ancestors on your back or stand on their shoulders.” When you honor them you stand on their shoulders. When you judge them and carry a grudge about their behavior you are carrying them on your back.
Notice What Happens
After this ceremony journal and notice, what comes up for you afterward. Keep a dream journal by your bed. Keep track of dreams especially of your ancestors. My Mom appeared in a dream filled with a delicious banquet, beautiful flowers and lots of family members all celebrating. I hadn’t dreamt of my mom in many years. I woke up and did not feel deep sadness. I felt she was there with me celebrating the abundance of love we shared in life that continues now so many years after she has left her body. Her presence was a beautiful gift from doing the Tarpana practice.
Since doing this ceremony I have experienced a complete shift in abundance in my career. I was invited to present a couple of yoga classes on an online platform called YogaVibes, I won a trip to Antigua at a charity luncheon I attended, I started working with 6 new private clients this week. My summer retreat is almost full and we don’t leave for 2 more months. Wow!
Letting go of resentment and practicing gratitude and forgiveness really works!
I asked my ancestors to please help me release my fear about money and obsession around food and my body. Be careful what you ask for!
Support in breaking Samskaras
To get support in breaking Samskaras connect to a yoga health coach who is skilled at helping to support you in facing the patterns of behavior that keep you stuck in your life.
Yoga Health Coaches help you move through the resistance that is typically associated with our Samskaras. For instance; if you want to let go of your horrible pattern of disturbed sleep, you might need to explore some deep issues you have about not feeling safe in the world.
Through my own journey as a health coach, I am seeing so many folks being able to break bad habits of eating heavier dinners, sleeping 5 hours, waking up groggy with a migraine. They are dropping weight, feeling happier and lighter, letting go of depression and anxiety and feeling more empowered.
These kinds of shifts require us to dig deep. The practice of Tarpana may seem a bit woo woo to you!! But if it works, woo woo for all your worth! Through this work I am really beginning to feel like the Universe is abundant and there is plenty to see me through my retirement.
If you are ready to get rid of your horrible sleep issues, anxiety, food obsession and overly critical nature that plagued your Mom her whole life, it is time to practice Tarpana.
Start with the family puja.
Be the Golden Link.
Be the Golden link so your kids and their kids will not have a deal with the shadow you have been carrying around your whole life. On the other side is light, freedom and joy.