We live in a misguided yoga culture where people think walking into a yoga room will heal our problems and that yoga teachers are enlightened. Yoga teachers are NOT enlightened. The Dalai Lama, Ram Dass and Papaji are amongst the enlightened. The rest of us are humans having a human experience doing the best we can with the tools we have been given.
Like most the of the western culture, I walked into the yoga room to exercise and heal my mind. HEAR ME WHEN I SAY THIS…Walking into the yoga room did NOT heal my emotional or physical wounds. My yoga therapy teacher training did NOT make all my problems disappear. The yoga room did bring out my narcissistic egoic tendencies and physical instabilities. My yoga therapy teacher training did allow my body the physical space to access and release all the sneaky little compressed areas where I was holding my emotions. It is the yoga sutras that opened the door for me to start to identify the root cause of my dis-ease. Studying the yoga sutras shed light on the idea that my life experiences are just that, brief moments in time. When I began to see my samskaras (my past painful experiences and unhealthy attachments to pleasurable ones) I was able to witness the behaviors not serving me.
WHAT ARE SAMSKARAS AND VASANAS
The word samskara comes from the Sanskrit word ‘sam’ meaning well planned, all thought out. The second syllable ‘kara’ means the action under-taken. “Samskara” therefore, somehow means “the impression of the impact of, the action we perform with full awareness of its goals.” Thus, samskaras are the subtle impressions of our past painful experiences and attachments to pleasurable ones that get deposited into our mind. Samskaras start as impressions. When these impressions change our body chemistry, they have become addictions. When they are strong enough to alter our thinking process they become samskaras. Once they become samskaras we no longer remember how or why they came to be. These samskaras influence our mental egoic world, determine our personality and how we see the world. In order to heal our samskaras we must become aware of them so they no longer obscure our realties. Without truthful, brutally honest self-inquiry we cannot discover the experiences that manifested into the samskaras and rewrite our destiny. Without self-inquiry, self-trust and self-confidence our samskaras will create a destiny that is forced to play out. It is important to know that we CAN alter our destiny. One could relate this to the theory of karma. Karma will provide us with situations that trigger our samskaric baggage, if open to truth, they will allow us to become aware of our past painful experiences or attachments to pleasure that need to be released.
Vasanas means ‘wishing’ or ‘desiring,’ Vasanas are latent impressions, already in the mind, thought not be acquired in this lifetime. Vasanas commonly lie dormant until awakened by a triggering memory. They are our “spontaneous” knee-jerk reactions. These reactions are far from spontaneous. We are reacting to the same old groves created from our painful and pleasurable experiences long ago. Like Samskaras, vasansas are imprinted in ones consciousness and predisposes one to patterns of behaviors.
THE YOGA SUTRAS
Patanjali, author of the yoga sutras, states “personality is the sum total combination of all these impressions and subtle traces.” In the school of yogic philosophy my teachers taught, samskaras are psychological imprints, impression and recollections that manifest in our conditioning, habitual tendencies, karmic impulses, subliminal impressions, and innate dispositions. Until we have self-realization, we give our vasanas and samskaras power to continue to play out and habits are formed which motivate our thoughts, speech and actions.
According to the Buddha, there are 7 latent tendencies in humans that lie dormant in the subconscious until they are brought to the surface.
1. Kama raga anusaya: lust for sense pleasure
2. Bhava raga anusaya: disposition to cling to existence (egoistic impulses)
3. Patigha anusaya: hatred ( painful feelings will rouse latent anger and hatred)
4. Mana anusaya: pride – the latent tendency of conceit (egoistic feeling or self importance)
5. Dittha anusaya: false views of body and mind
6. Vicikichcha anusaya: tendency to have skeptical doubt and uncertainty
7. Avijja anusaya: tendency to be in ignorance
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO NEED EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE:
Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, neuroscientist and psychologist and author of “How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” explains it best in her TED Talk.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CHOOSE FAITH
Mooji explains how to achieve mental freedom and to embrace the idea that we are not our minds and we are not our bodies. We are NOTHING!
As humans, we will consciously and unconsciously continue to have painful and pleasurable experiences that form our samskaras. These impressions present themselves as hidden expectations, circumstances, and sense of self -worth which ultimately affect our behaviors. Each time these experiences and actions repeat themselves, our samskaras get deeper and deeper allowing the original behavior to become habitual. In other words, if we give our samskaras attention we given them power. Our emotional world is under the influence of these impressions. They unconsciously contribute to our sense of person, our assumptions we project on others, situations we encounter and how we perceive the world. They filer and create our reality. If these impressions are deeply ingrained in our psyche, then they create exaggerated responses to threats that may only be mild or create unhealthy attachments to people, places or things. Our samskaras manifest as an inner egoic person and external circumstances that keep the samskara as truth. When we become awake to our samskaras the impression of ignorance disappears and we can reach inner resolution with complete acceptance of the self becoming free of our samskaras, our egoic identity and our suffering so we may live out our true nature… happiness.