Yoga training: Changing Karma
In May, the topic of study was samskara and karma, and how to change that. Samskara means imprint- everything you think or do leaves a mental imprint that manifests as karma, which is action. The actions reinforce the thought and the cycle is called samskara.
Because my teacher Amanda Webster was a behavioral therapist, she brought operant conditioning theory into this and asked us to apply actions from our own lives into this concept, decide if this is behavior we want to change or reinforce, and how should we keep doing that?
Everyone in class is overcommitted and stressed in general, so there is dissonance between our intent to practice and our ability to take action to actually get on a mat. We looked at this and came up with some small ways to try to bridge that gap. Baby steps, right?
My number one issue at this time is sleep, which affects my energy. If I don't sleep well, I lack enough energy to exercise in the day, which leads to more unrest, sometimes carried through to the next day.
Someone else's issue is surfing too much (boo hoo.) He said surfing once a day is great, but indulging in a second session kinks his neck and ruins the rest of his day. We were all very sorry for him.
She is having us track our behavior in detail. I guess it's the same reason why people trying to lose weight are encouraged to log their eating habits; it makes you more attuned to what you are doing.
Samskara has three stages: active, latent, and "burned seeds." Amanda's simple analogy is to a smoker trying to quit:
Active: if you see someone smoking you give in.
Latent: You use your resolve to not light up a cigarette.
Burned seeds: You remember smoking but you no longer desire it.
Paramahansa Yogananda said, "The seeds of past karma cannot germinate if they are roasted in the fires of divine wisdom." The fire that roasts them is called tapas.
I will 1) never look at Spanish tapas the same, and 2) I look forward to burning a LOT of seeds.
What's your samskara and do you want to change it?