In Indian and yogic philosophy, Samskaras are the mental impressions left by our past thoughts, actions and interactions. And those impressions can be positive or negative – but all too often the rhetoric is negative. This is our mind chatter and self-talk. We are so hard on ourselves, and some of us carry loops of self-doubt, trepidation, and negative self-images replaying in our mind like a tape recorder. This can certainly impact our way of thinking and undermine our ability to embrace new interests. Samskaras also affect our decisions and actions, as well as our health, happiness, and relationships. These are the issues in our tissues – like subconscious imprints ingrained in our body and mind both physically and mentally. They may even be inherited from the experiences of past generations like your parents and grandparents.
The good news is we have the ability to transform negative samskaras to positive mental and emotional patterns through conscious awareness, self-reflection and therapy so they no longer color our perceptions of self, of others or of future experiences. We can simply begin by journaling any negative thoughts and doing a deep dive, perhaps with help, into their roots to figure out where and how they began and replace them with positive affirmations. This is the work of turning thoughts like “I can’t, I shouldn’t or I’m not…” into “I can, I am, and I will.” We can write down negative samskaras on a piece of paper, then tear it up or burn it. The healing comes in replacing those thoughts with new mantras of healing and joy, writing those mantras down on sticky notes and placing them around the house or carrying them with you.
Last but not least, the mental focus and inner awareness gained from regular meditation can help us react less to all the useless noise inside our mind. With consistency, we can learn to focus on our inner truth, which is by nature full of joy, peace and love. One of my favorite mantras to repeat in meditation is Sat Nam, which translates to I am. I am Truth.
One of the world’s oldest living yogis, and one of the most acclaimed teachers of our century was Tao Porchon-Lynch, who lived to be 101. She passed away in 2020 and was still teaching a yoga class each week in NY at the time. She was certainly a beacon of light, and the perfect example of an ageless body and mind. Her autobiography, Dancing Light: The Spiritual Side of Being Through The Eyes Of A Modern Yoga Master, is the perfect example of how to transcend negative thoughts and circumstances to live with wholeness and joy. Her early career was in dancing and acting, but after getting married she abandoned those former passions to teach yoga full time. She once said that each and every day she woke up, her mantra was “Today is going to be the best day of my life.” And so, it was. I’ll leave you with a great quote from this book – it can even be a mantra…
“Leave your yawns and thoughts behind you and feel the tiny breeze of life lighting up inside you.”
Thanks so much for this. Yes, I was listening in class. This gives me a reference for Samskaras and reminder of the recently passed yogi master.