Burning Samskaras

Dissolve Thought, Emotion, and Behavioral Patterns

Does your family put your spiritual practice to the test? 

Have you been making leaps and bounds through your yoga or meditation practice – feeling better day to day, learning to take a breath in the challenging moments, and ultimately living life more freely from a place of joy? The Yoga practice helps us move in that direction, and then we go back home for a holiday gathering with our family and suddenly we are right back where we started. Why is that? What is it about family, caretakers, or being in the home we grew up in that pulls us back into our old patterns of thought, emotions, or behaviors? According to the yoga tradition, it’s because of Samskaras.

What ARE Samskaras?

A samskara is often translated as the groove or pattern of the mind and directly relates or corresponds with our actions or behavior. Samskaras begin forming at the very moment we step into our bodies. Our parents, or the ones who raise us, largely play a major role in the forming of our Samskaras. When we were children our lens of perception was colored for us; we were taught to see the world the way our parents, teachers, and society saw it. At some point in our journey, we woke up and began to self-reflect, recognizing that perhaps the lens we’ve been looking through is not the truth. Let’s look at this lens of perception as a window. The window has a lifetime of dirt and grime, and the yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry practice help to clean the window little by little, allowing us to see life more clearly so we can experience it as it is rather than as we believe it to be.

The analogy I use in the video below is another way of understanding Samskaras. I explain that Samskaras create grooves in the mind like the groove of a river in a mountain side. The river carves out the earth little by little through repetition and time and eventually becomes powerful. Our mind  (thoughts, emotions, beliefs, perception) is exactly like the river. Starting when we are young, the mind begins to look for like and unlike experiences and collecting them as beliefs and perception. This helps us to determine safe and unsafe situations, and forms our communication: “When I cry, caretaker brings me food,” or perhaps “when I cry, no one responds.” Through repetition, these observations become our perception or the grooves of our mind. We may then form the opinion that it is good or bad or effective or ineffective to express ourselves a certain way. We form beliefs about others and the world we live in.

Now that you have begun your yoga practice, you have likely begun the process of burning away your Samskaras. How do you know? If you are behaving differently: more patient, kind, respectful, loving, emotionally stable or vulnerable, light-hearted, joyful, etc. Burning Samskaras or old patterns allows us to live in the now, where the magic of life exists, and the world feels exciting and new again.

WHY DOES BEING AROUND FAMILY MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I HAVE NOT GOTTEN ANYWHERE?

Because the vast majority of Samskaras were formed at a very young age, they have had a lifetime to get stronger. Like the river that has been digging its way into the earth, the longer it has been flowing, the deeper the groove. The samskaras that were formed as a child are triggered by experiences that are closest to the ones that formed them in the first place – typically your parents, siblings, or caretakers. Or you might be most triggered by people in your life that most resemble them which could be your boss, teacher, in-laws, friend, etc. You may have been working on yourself for quite some time, burning away the outer layers, only to show up at a family gathering or holiday dinner and notice your blood boiling, ready to argue, run away or just plain give up. There is a saying that goes something like, “if you think you are enlightened, visit your family.” How perfect that statement is as a reminder that yoga is a practice, not a one-time product purchase to solve your issues. We need to continuously stoke the fire of transformation to experience freedom from our Samskaras.

Burning Samskaras

Burning Samskaras is recognized in modern psychology as Neuroplasticity – our brain’s capacity to change our neurological patterning. While much of our childhood patterns are formed without our awareness, it is awareness that allows us to burn what no longer serves us. Awareness is also what allows us to choose how we want to feel, act, think, and exist in this world. Awareness is a state of being that floods our conscious mind when we are present in the here and now. Have you ever watched yourself think a thought, or witnessed the sensations of your body, or decided to take a breath instead of reacting? The part of you that is aware of thoughts, emotions, and actions is awareness–and awareness is something you can strengthen just like a muscle. How do you strengthen it? The 4 main practices are Yoga, Meditation, Breath Work (pranayama), and Self-Inquiry. Self-Inquiry is also the result of the first three practices, as it is our “awareness” that creates the inquiry. Self-inquiry is the process of asking yourself questions, observing your thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns, and reflecting upon your actions and reactions. Through repetition, your awareness builds strength and awareness slowly burns away old patterns. Literally, the brain forms new neurological “wiring” which changes the way we act or react in any given situation.

Anchoring

There is much that is beyond our control such as life circumstances and outcomes of our actions, but what we do have control of is the inner landscape of our mind and our actions. That might seem like a large task, and it does take time and routine practice of yoga and meditation (see Elements of Mastery for both), however, there is one thing you can do right now to help you maintain your ground when you step back into the all too familiar family dinner or holiday celebration. 

“Create an Anchor” This is what I call having an intention, but I use the imagery of an anchor so when the seas get rough, you hold tight to the ocean floor and stay deeply grounded in your intention. The questions to form your intention are

  1. How do you want to feel?
  2. How do you want to act? 

Anchor yourself into the answers to these questions by asking yourself how you want to feel/act the moment you start to feel your blood boil under the surface of your skin or when you just want to run or hide. When you notice yourself falling back into your old patterns, hold tight to your anchor and do not let go. You may need to excuse yourself and take a few breaths or do a quick sun salutation, and that is ok! Be compassionate, the river is incredibly strong but you are indeed stronger.

2 Comments

  1. Anne Hungerford

    Great article Matt !
    Thank you for taking the time to write and share this.i love the practicle tool of deciding on an anchor to have in a family social situation. “How do I want to feel” certainly can override a reactive behavior that takes us out of our center. New neiropathways! Yay!!

    Namaste

  2. Joi

    Thank you for simply clarifying this. I like your anchor technique. . Samskaras can often be very complex. Namaste’

Submit a Comment

Elements of Mastery

The most in-depth online yoga immersion offered by Matt Giordano. This immersion contains several full-length workshops focusing on how the body relates to nature’s elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, & Space. In addition to deepening your physical practice, you will learn anatomy, adjustments, and the approach to Mastery!

Product Bundles

Get access to 3 or more products so you can develop your yoga practice in a well rounded and enjoyable way right from your home! You will not only save money but you will also have unlimited access to feeling better in your body and mind!

Continue Learning

L Pose Handstand Training

L Pose Handstand Training

L Pose Handstand Training Activate Core & Hip Flexorshandstand prepL POSE HANDSTAND TRAINING We’re all aware about the importance of taking baby steps when we have a bigger goal we’d like to achieve. L Pose Handstand Training falls under that very category when it...

read more
Serratus Push Ups Tutorial

Serratus Push Ups Tutorial

Serratus Push-Ups Tutorial 4 Variations For StrengthstrengthWhat Is The Importance of Serratus Anterior Push-Ups? When you hear the term “boxer muscles,” you most likely know that it’s referring to the serratus anterior. However you refer to it, it's an important part...

read more
SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS

SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS

SHORTEN TO LENGTHEN YOUR STANDING SPLITS  INCREASE FLEXIBILITY WITH THIS TECHNIQUEHANUMANASANASHORTEN TO LENGTHEN What does shorten to lengthen your standing splits even mean? Does that even make sense? At first thought it may seem counterintuitive that if you want to...

read more
Open Your Heart in Camel Pose

Open Your Heart in Camel Pose

OPEN YOUR HEART IN CAMEL POSE  Layer These TechniquesustrasanaOPEN YOUR HEARTThere's such a majestic and robust quality when it comes to heart openers in a physical yoga practice. In order to open your heart and gain greater access to a backbend such as Camel Pose,...

read more
Take Flight in Crow Pose

Take Flight in Crow Pose

TAKE FLIGHT IN CROW POSE Strengthen Your WristsKAKASANAWHAT IS THE SECRET TO TAKING FLIGHT IN CROW POSE?In order to take flight in Crow Pose, it may seem obvious that a great deal of emphasis needs to be placed on your hands, but what often happens is that a great...

read more
KICK UP INTO HANDSTAND

KICK UP INTO HANDSTAND

KICK UP INTO HANDSTAND  Master 3 Key Actions alignmentHANDSTAND—3 KEY ACTIONS “Squeeze in, turn in, tuck the tail.” These are the 3 key actions for handstands that Matt explains are a must. These may sound like simple cues, and they may even be easy to execute if...

read more

TOP RECOMMENDATIONS 

Handstand Training

Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This 2 part course consists of the top most effective exercises will increase your strength and technique so you can easefully balance a handstand.

View Details

SHOULDER REVELATION

In this 12 class immersion  you will practice specific techniques to strengthen and unlock your shoulders. Each class focuses on a specific joint articulation and muscle group so you gain mastery in the shoulders.

View Details

HEART OPENERS

Finally, a 12 class immersion designed specifically to help you discover the freedom of heart openers. Learn how to avoid uncomfortable compression, and awaken your true range of motion in a step by step manner.

View Details

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe You Will Get Instant Access To

  • The Technique Pack: 15 Yoga Pose Breakdowns
  • Exclusive Online Course Discounts
  • Exclusive Blogs and Videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Still Have Questions? Email Matt Directly

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
LABOR DAY FLASH SALE 25% OFF IMMERSIONS!
10
days
10
hours
10
minutes
10
seconds
LABOR DAY FLASH SALE
25% OFF  IMMERSIONS!
10
days
10
hours
10
minutes
10
seconds
Congratulations, your 25% discount code has been applied and will be reflected at the very bottom at checkout page
Overlay Image
LABOR DAY SALE! Congratulations, your 25% discount code has been applied and will be reflected at the very bottom at checkout page

Thank you! check your email for your free training and be sure to put matt@theyogimatt.com in your VIP or drag emails from me from your spam or "promotions" folder to your Inbox folder. This is where you will receive your FREE videos!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This!

Hey. thank you for reading. If this is helpful please share it!

Shares