What are Samskaras?
By Trish Reyburn
“We’re born with a karmic inheritance of mental and emotional patterns—known as samskaras—through which we cycle over and over again during our lives.” –Bo Forbes
I’ve been studying Yoga for about 25 years now and I am still learning how much there is to know.
Yoga is vast.
The lessons are many-layered as well.
Sometimes a seemingly small point can make a big difference.
Samskaras are impressions from life experiences that we hold onto, mostly unconsciously. Yogic philosophy teaches that, through reincarnations, we work through our soul’s samskaras. We enter this life with impressions carried from past lives. Now, using our time in a physical body, we have a chance to burn off some of the karma that is attached to those impressions.
One goal of yoga is to not create new samskaras.
But guess what? You already have.
We start life with certain tendencies that, more often than not, come to fruition. With awareness, we can learn to recognize these tendencies and respond to them appropriately.
Samskaras are also our habits, which are deep grooves of thought and behavior that can literally run our lives. Some habits, ideas and beliefs are so ingrained in our psyche that they just run the recordings and we follow.
It is only through our experiences that we get to truly know ourselves. Both internal or external experiences are observed by a watcher inside of us. That’s the part of you that is always witnessing your experiences (even the ones that take place only in the mind).
When we learn to reside in that awareness, identifying the watcher, there is a better chance to “see” ourselves and the grooves in which the mind tends to move.
For a long time, I thought of samskaras only as negative impressions on the energetic body; now I am aware that the energy body can also hold on to positive impressions – that is to say that ANY impression that you have in your life makes an imprint on your psyche, even impressions made during the dreaming state of sleep.
Whether the impression is good or bad, happy or sad, conscious or unconscious, it is held inside your awareness.
As these impressions build up, the life force cannot move freely and therefore can become blocked.
Clearing samskaras is something we can consciously attempt, but mostly it is through opening to grace in life that leads us to increased awareness of our deep-set patterns.
The practice offers the space and the time to look deeper within. It’s easy to get caught up in the business of life, even during a pandemic, but taking the time to look closely at your daily experiences will teach you more about yourself.
Be assured there are techniques to help you release attachments to your day’s impressions and experiences! Some examples include:
· Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which can help with releasing chronic tension or anxiety.
· Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which can help release imprinted trauma.
In the evening, take 5-10 minutes to be still and review the day’s experiences. Create a willingness to release all your sense impressions from the day. Try not to think of specific memories from the day, but instead remain neutral to your likes and dislikes. As you willingly release these impressions, you give yourself the gift of starting the next day with a clean energy body.