Reflecting on … Samskaras are Like Snowy Pathways

When I first thought about moving to this area of BC, I had no idea that this desert-like city would get so much snow …

This winter has been peaceful for me, as I do enjoy running in the snow. I actually started my running journey several years ago in a frigid January further up North (in Quesnel, BC). I could tell you lots of stories about frozen nose hairs and eyelashes with icicles on them! So needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed when I found out that we would have a real winter here. I do love it.

 

The only downside to winter here is that the trails I want to run on are isolated, and at times I feel like I am the only one who is breaking trail. Which is not true, my husband is out there too! There is a trail broken in, most of the time, but it seems that people out walking or snowshoeing stop at this one particular junction. The exact fork in the trail where it is the most beautiful. The little valley where I once spotted a lone wily wolf spying on me from above. The spot where there are orange rock formations lining the path into a sweet patch of forest. Where there is a short, steep hill that unveils huge white quartz rocks in the summer.

 

So, knowing of all this beauty, I have been stubborn this winter, running past the other footsteps to claim a spot in nature. Punching my feet through the deep, packed snow, there were times when I felt like I was making progress, as the trail would be packed down by our relentless forays. There were quite a few times, however, where it seemed no one had been out there, and all my efforts were covered in gleaming white snow again. But if I looked closely, I could see the impressions beneath the fresh layer, and I would make the hefty decision to trudge through the snow to break the trail back in. A few times, the wind had been blowing fine crystals of snow into massive drifts that covered the trail completely. It is amazing how those tiny crystals can create such an impenetrable  snow pack. There were times that I would break through the snow right up to my knees. Sometimes I would randomly swear at the situation. Another bonus to running alone Рno one hears you cuss.

How Snowy Pathways are like Samskaras

“In Indian and yogic philosophy, samskaras are the mental impressions left by all thoughts, actions and intents that an individual has ever experienced. They can be thought of as psychological imprints.” – from Yogapedia.com

About halfway through the winter, I began thinking about how breaking this winter trail is so much like the Samskaras. I truly realized that I was often on my own in this quest to maintain my own personal trail into this place of beauty. It was something that was worth fighting for. No one else was going to do it for me, so I had to make the consistent weekly effort to do this thing for myself. I was creating grooves and tracks in the snow, over and over and over.

 

Some pathways are easy for us to maintain – and by pathways I do mean patterns of thoughts and habits – our tendencies. There are samskaras that we are born with, or born into, such as strong thoughts about money, trust, security, love etc. Of course, Samskaras can also be habits such as judging others, or you may have thoughts that you are better than others, or even self-deprecating thoughts and habits. Sometimes we actively reinforce beliefs about ourselves, such as thinking we’re NOT good enough, or that we don’t deserve good things in life.

 

I believe that we can begin to create our own samskaras for the betterment of our souls. For me, that means constantly working on the principles that I know will help me to live my purpose: tenacity. a strong will. determination. compassion. love. and one thing that has been quite key for me is: personal power. I tend to lead by example.

 

It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy though. Oftentimes you’ll be alone, and feel like you’re the only one struggling to do better. The snow is a perfect reference for the lifetime of reinforcing these samskaras:

  1. No one is going to do it for you.

  2. You must continue to go over the pathway as often as you can.

  3. Sometimes it seems like you didn’t walk the path at all, but there is a subtle impression to remind you that you did.

  4. You are the only witness to your inner world – which means no one else is responsible for how you feel about yourself.

  5. Some things are worth fighting for, but you’ll never realize that if you simply lay down and accept negative circumstances.

How to Gain Control of Your Thoughts

Yoga offers you many opportunities to gain control over yourself. Your tendencies and habits are completely under your control, but you need tools in order to overcome these patterns.

Meditation is the first step, and is necessary be able to see what your thoughts are like. We all have this voice in our minds that narrates our day. You are not the only one who has a running commentary in your mind – a voice that passes judgement, makes decisions and reminds you of what you like and don’t like.

But – WHO is this voice? Is it really you? What are the thoughts about? And do these things make you feel good about yourself?

Try Meditating for 5 minutes a day. Sit still, close your eyes, and listen to your breathing. When a thought comes in your mind, notice what it is. And then try not to get carried away with your thought. Just leave it. And then observe the next thought that comes up. Again – try not to get carried away making up some story about the thought.

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