Samskaras are defined as karmic patterns. We all have Samskaras or habits in our daily lives, some good and some less so. It can take a very short time to develop a habit of thought or action and then it is with us. From there it takes conscious focus and attention to notice or acknowledge the habit, then to determine if it is of service to us or not. Once we determine that, we are on our way to creating change.
Last week I asked my students to begin to notice the patterns in their bodies and minds. I tasked myself with the same practice as I taught classes with cyclical vinyasa series starting with the left side instead of the linear back to front starting with the right side. We all have to step out of our comfort zones sometimes to see the possibilities for change. I also asked my students to focus less on the alignment and more on the flow of the body as we channeled the water element. Water is an amazing property in nature. It’s journey can look several different ways but its goal is clear. It can be soft and overflowing or very focused in its direction. It can pave its way literally through mountains or find the path of least resistance. It follows patterns but can also brave new paths. It is flexible and strong– what we all aspire to be.
As we moved through our practice, this unconventional flow allowed us to notice patterns or habits (samskaras) in the body and ask ourselves if they were serving us or if we would be better served by changing them. We played with flowing right through several arm balances and Pinchamayurasana (version pictured above) instead of breaking them down slowly as a further attempt to stay in constant motion like water.
Off the mat, the same practice applies. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone it gives us each the chance to notice our patterns or Samskaras. In the mind we often have cycles of thought; a script that plays over and over. With awareness we can ask the key questions; Is this thought process serving me? Is there a lesson here that I have the chance to learn?
I was recently speaking to a close friend who has found herself in a similar relationship situation three times. The universe continues to teach us, it offers us the lesson we need to learn as many times as we need to learn it. That’s what I shared with her when she asked for my advise. Look at what the universe is trying to teach; in other words ask yourself why you are falling into the same habit. The first and often most difficult step is acknowledging the pattern; from there the change will come.
As we sat in a comfortable seat to finish our asana practice I reminded my students once again that when we are present in both body and mind we have the chance to acknowledge our Samskaras (karmic patterns). With that knowledge we have the opportunity to see and learn the lessons from the universe that will enable us to grow in our practice, both on and off the mat. Namaste.