I turned a new year, younger as my teacher says, as we return closer to the source of Life, the source of all that is.
A few years a go I had my first memorable solo vacation. While staying at a yoga retreat a group of us decided to visit Anuradapura, the ancient city in Sri Lanka, for the day. And it was there I first saw the impressions of a moonstone embedded into the ground at these old beautiful sites.
I asked our unforgettable 75 + year old tour guide, E.D (shortened for us foreigners), who called me Ms. Pakistan and told cricket jokes to me all day long, what did all this stuff mean? He explained the cycles by which the Buddha says we transform on the spiritual path, and how the layers drawn on this moonstone represented this progression.
He said a word: samskara. Funny, I thought, I had bought a beautiful purple leather purse in Toronto just months before with the company name seared into my mind: samskara.
The impressions left on our subconscious, unconscious, from our past lives Hindus and Buddhists would say, or as modern psychologists would call it: the collection of mysterious connections we have to our pasts which creates our “conditioning”.
I have heard some describe samskara as grooves, visually seen in our naked brain, lines that have been carved and created. The synapses that have connected through unconscious impressions so often that they have become embedded into our nature.
All this stuff reminded me of my training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and what Yoga was also teaching me to slowly unravel. To discover that space, be aware of it, like the pause between our inhale and exhale, where our thought leads to emotion or behavior. So that the process stops being automatic, and instead we begin to create this elusive space around it.
My mind. The insanity with which it expresses itself. The samskaras that are deeply rooted in self-defeating narratives, are not simply overcome by “positive” thinking. But instead, today I realized, as I prayed while my mind continued its madness 22 days and nights into fasting my body, that the only route to be done with this samskara, is surrender, submit, wholly to a higher power by accepting the present moment in which I am just the way I am. To accept fully that this heart of mine is full of un-anchored desires, and shrapnel wounds of love lost in an endless passage of events.
The burning sensation fills my chest, as I bring my attention over and over again to my heart, while moving rhythmically. The pain travels to other parts of my body, like a sliding string of light and heat. And I’m so easily there again, in my head, thinking, calculating, talking to imagined scenarios, creating, fixating, and leaving behind what is. what is? what is right now.
I share with you the prayer I received today, as my heart repeated words that I did not understand. I submit and surrender to you, please bring me wholeness, soundness, internally and externally. Please bring sanity to my mind. All that is, is of Allah’s decree.
I am awake. and the more I wake, the less I can slumber in my spiraling samskaras.