September 3, 2012

Jumping Tracks: Samskaras. How to Create Habits that Make You Happy. ~ Katrina Ariel

Yoga Shines a Light on Why We Fall Down into the Same Hole in Different Situations, and How to Surrender into a Better Way.

Practicing yoga is about positive transformation—rising above old patterns that no longer serve and creating new ones that do. It’s not just about getting a new perspective on life, though that’s important too, it’s about totally changing your default reactions so life is a lot more friendly and fabulous.

How is this done?

Well, in Sanskrit there is this word and idea named samskara.

Samskaras are deep impressions. You can think of them like tracks, grooves, or trenches that we’ve dug for ourselves through repetition. Like a deep river that winds its way through a valley, we tend to flow through the same patterns in life over and over again.

What happens is these samskaras become habitual. For instance, my default reaction to disagreement in relationship used to be anger and depression. I’d slip right into the deeply dug trench of self-loathing that made me close down outwardly and turn my inner world into a battlefield.

Not so much fun.

It took quite a bit of work to change this, but every effort and surrender of the process was worth it. Baby steps, you know?

You might recognize your own habitual patterns of reaction to life. If you are far on the path of Mastery, you will have more positive samskaras and very few that do not serve. However, being human, you likely have some tendencies that you would like to change. We all do.

The good news is that you can. You can create a new pattern through awareness and vigilance, patience and loving kindness.

Here’s how you do it:

When you find a pattern in yourself that does not serve, imprint a new pattern. Surrender your conditioning, and sometimes deep level of comfort, of doing things the old way.

Create a new groove (samskara). How would you rather respond?

You can picture it like you’re digging another trench right next to the old one. The track that does not serve is muddy and slows you down. The new track is lined with sparkling crystal and flowing light, and when you imprint this new pattern over and over again, you literally jump tracks. Rivers occasionally change their course and create a new way. You can too!

You make a new habit for yourself. It becomes your default response, rather than a reckless reaction.

This, again, takes patience and awareness. Every time you feel yourself heading into the old pattern, deliberately choose the new one.

Practice this. Repeat it as many times as it comes up, and don’t worry if it seems to take forever or if it’s sometimes really hard. It is your willingness to practice this re-imprinting that creates your new experience. It will get easier over time, until you find that you spend a lot more time sliding down crystal grooves of light hearted habits, rather than trudging through the muck of old samskaras.

This article was adapted from the book, Yoga for Dragon Riders: a very comprehensive yoga manual written in a rather unconventional way.

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Pavan Feb 25, 2014 9:37am

Brilliant Post! Now all it takes is a bit of will power which is the hardest part while practising to create those new grooves in response to the stimulus that normally triggers dis-empowering old pattern by default. But then, it's this power of choosing an alternate response to create new patterns in life is what separates Humankind from Animal Kingdom!

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Katrina Ariel

Katrina Hokule’a Ariel is the author of Yoga for Dragon Riders, and singer/songwriter for her mantra album “Gratitude.” She also has a sprawling yoga blog.
She likes to do yoga in random places, cartwheel on a whim, and hug trees pretty much anywhere. Her life’s ambition is to be a sage-soul-singer-seeker-of-truth and use her considerable talents to help others realize how incredibly magnificent they are—that and curl up by the fire reading a good book. She describes herself as “part cat, part elf, and part hobbit,” though she occasionally admits that she is also human. You can find her on Facebook here