Posted by christina on Jul 9, 2014
Yoga has been called many things. A science, a religion, a cult. It has been called a tool for awakening and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras explain yoga as a system for “progressively quieting the fluctuations of the mind.” Yoga’s purest lessons get lost in Western interpretation – often, but here’s one of its secrets boiled down into simple language we can all understand.
What Patanjali is talking about is removing labels. Those thoughts that cling to a predetermined definition of who you are, are damaging. They stunt your growth and cause incessant emotional pain. You aren’t your job. You are not your religion. You aren’t your gender, or your ‘class’ imposed by some arbitrary rules made up by a purely materialistic and arguably psychotic society. You aren’t your nation, or the sum of degrees you hold, or don’t hold. You aren’t merely a mother, a father or a friend, nor are you an enemy. You aren’t a New Yorker or a Californian, a salesman or an electrician. You aren’t the sum of your wounds either. All these layers – there are so darned many – are stifling you. What you are, simply, is love.
Our memories tie us to karmic debts and wishes for the future. A cycle of samskara, vasana, and karma can be thought of as the software for your soul, but it isn’t the hardware.
Samskaras are latent impressions. These are the unconscious reactions we have within our bodies that were stored when we couldn’t completely feel the pain of an incident in our past – and arguably much of our past, even past lives, is littered with pain that was too great to deal with in the moment it happened . . . so instead of feeling that pain and then being done with it, we become relegated to a reactionary response. We relive it over and over again. We fight with a father or sister, and then inevitably draw that same personality type into our lives. We complain that our bosses never truly appreciate us, but really we are hiding from the pain of not being able to strike out on our own and start our own business that we could run however we saw fit. You name the unpleasant experience – we likely have pain surrounding it, and we re-create it perpetually, until we stop. STOP. Feel it, release it, and start from NOW to make a new decision about what we want to create in the future. That’s living in love. Anything else is fear – fear of pain, fear of abandonment, fear of not being enough – all just fear.
Vasana is a similar concept. It is sometimes called a ‘karmic imprint’ or a behavioral tendency, which replays throughout life. These can be ‘good’ imprints or ‘bad’ ones, but really they are the Universe’s completely neutral way of giving us exactly what we ask for via ‘free will.’ These vasana, or inclinations are often stored subliminally. Your conscious mind often won’t let you know what your tendencies are, but there is a secret to figuring out what is lurking beneath the conscious mind so that you can determine if a particular impression is serving you or keeping your entire life on hold. Just look at your life. Painted in ‘living color’ you will see a palette of all that you subconsciously believe.
If you like what you see – great, this means your impressions, or vasana are aligned with love, so you can just keep allowing those software programs to run, but if what you see is something other than what you desire, it is likely that you have some latent impressions which could stand to change. Ask a close friend, to gently tell you where you seem to make the same decisions over and over again, and ask them to honestly communicate how your life could be different if you were able to choose differently, then act in love. Have courage, and watch those samskaras melt and the vasana they carry – transform.
Karma – Karma itself is an often-misunderstood word. It isn’t punishment. It isn’t even utterly negative – even though the expression ‘karma’s a bitch’ is often used in the modern world. Karma is also not fate, because it is constantly changing – moldable to every new action you take, every new thought you think – not to sound like an old Police song, karma actually means, ‘to do,’ and trust me, what we do today has a profound affect on tomorrow.
If you plant a strawberry plant, don’t expect an oak tree to sprout from the ground. If you are planting seeds for more love, more prosperity, more compassion, and more joy in your life, then you can expect to reap what you sow – yes? The same holds true – again in the completely neutral and loving universe – if you were to plant seeds of anger, hatred, or jealousy. It is no mistake that karma is often taught in ancient texts using the metaphor ‘the fruits of karma.’ It is similar to the expression, ‘reaping the fruits of your labor.’ Just be sure you are laboring for love.
Yoga is meant to bring these concepts – and an awareness of the thoughts which we are thinking to our minds – so that we can choose differently. Meditation shines the light on what you really feel and really think repeatedly quite accurately. Meditation can keep you from having a heart attack, quite literally, but it can also open your heart, in ways the medical profession could never imagine. Live in love, and see how differently your world opens up and changes. This is what yoga is yearning to teach you.
Try a free open-heart meditation today.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] ~ E.E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World.
This poem is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
pic credit: lightgrid.ning.com