Today in the forth week of our ‘New Beginnings’ series, we looked at samskaras. The yogis believed that every experience leaves some kind of residue in our system. And it’s something that remains in us from every experience that we’ve had over the course of our lifetime. This accumulates and develops into patterns.
The patterns start to drive us, and often we feel powerless to do anything different. The pattern takes over and then we repeat some version of the same experience, again and again, throughout our lives.
My yoga teacher explained it as it being like a river which eventually makes grooves through the rocks it passes over, so too do our thoughts weave grooves in our brains. Over time, repetitive thoughts weave grooves in our brains, making it easier for our minds to follow this established path instead of creating a new path. These grooves are called samskaras.
Samskaras are the behaviour patterns that put us on autopilot in life. This may be why some people stay in a job that they hate or in a toxic relationship, going from one abusive relationship to another, it can be why we eat a biscuit without realising it or why we drive 20 miles on a familiar road, without remembering the journey.
So how do you get out of this repetitive cycle? You create new patterns. How do you do that?
- We can create a sankalpa (intention). This is a present tense postive statement starting with “I am….” A sankalpa is our commitment to change. By making a commitment to change, you are already on the path to change.
- Practise living mindfully. Practising observance of thoughts and actions.
- Slow down. Because samskaras are instinctual, we often find ourselves in them before we realise it. If we slow down we become able to respond clearly rather than react impulsively.
- Change it up a bit! Have new experiences. If you want to be a different person, you have to do things differently. To truly make change happen, you have to start having different experiences: even if this means, going a slightly different way to go to work, changing your hairstyle, or wearing different coloured clothing.