Last week when I walked into my regular Wednesday morning yoga class, I realized that I no longer cared where I put my mat.
After I sat down, I thought to myself, "Huh"...... a year ago, I would have had many more requirements before placing my mat just anywhere. If someone was in "my" spot, I would have purposefully scanned the room for a spot that was:
a. in the front
b. near a wall
c. not near anyone that didn't appear calm and balanced
d. not in a place that didn't feel right
When I thought about it after class, I remembered that last year I had set a New Year's intention to change "my" spot each time I attended my Wednesday morning yoga class.
I chose this because I realized that I had gotten so attached to my location in the room that I was creating suffering for myself.
If I would walk into class and someone was in what I considered to be my spot, I would be left feeling out of sorts. I knew I was in trouble when I would start to worry that my spot wouldn't be there before I even got to the studio.
With much effort and resolve, on January 1, 2013, I committed to choosing a different spot in class every Wednesday. It was difficult at first, I took baby steps, staying as close as I could to my old spot without actually being in it. As I sat in a new spot, I used a mantra to talk myself into being okay in this unfamiliar place. I had to work hard to remain focused, and take deep breaths to stay centered because my balance would sometimes feel off.
Over time however, it became easier and easier to be in a new place in the classroom. Then at some point, without even realizing it, my habit and attachment to "my" spot was gone.
Habits are formed when we repeat a pattern over and over again. Our physical, mental, and emotional bodies can form habits pretty easily. These pesky little habits can be very hard to get rid of.
In yoga philosophy, a habit or repetitive pattern is called a samskara. Pantajali says that a samskara is like a grove in the sand. Each time the water flows there, the groove gets deeper. At some point, the groove gets so deep that the water has no choice but to flow right back into the groove.
Like a groove in sand, each time we think, feel, or behave in a certain way, we create a pathway in our brain that makes it more likely that we will think, feel, or behave the same way again. With each repetition of the thought, feeling, or action, the pathway becomes stronger and deeper. Without a keen awareness of our mind state, our samskaras can run our lives making us think, feel, and react out of habit.
Anger, sadness, judgement, and guilt are just a few habitual reactions that keep us stuck in a negative mind state.
Because of this tendency to unconsciously repeat patterns, our emotional, physical, and mental samskaras require a conscious effort to change.
The first step is being aware of the habit. You know you have formed a habit when you feel like you have no choice in the way you think, feel, or behave in certain situations.
Feel your emotions.
Breaking your attachment involves feeling the discomfort and staying in it anyway. Breathe into the feelings as they arise and pass, then take a step back and wait before you choose your next action.
Make a commitment to change and then enlist the support of others who care about you. Letting others know can hold you accountable for the change that you seek.
Use a mantra or a phrase that you repeat regularly to disconnect your habitual mind from the negative pattern and help to create a new and positive one.
Practice conscious breathing or meditation on a regular basis to strengthen your connection to yourself and weaken the mind's tendency to run wild.
Yoga, at it's core is about breaking up and purifying our samskaras in the body, mind, and heart so that we can live and enjoy life in the present moment.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras