Last week I wrote about softening. About letting go of grasping. It's a hard habit to break, I have to confess! I woke up this morning thinking and planning and worrying and fretting about all I had to do, and all I have planned in the next few weeks. I started out the year (only a short two weeks ago!) with a very quiet feeling inside, that I would just let things unfold and evolve as they did... that I would NOT prebook every weekend for the next three months, as I had done in the previous year, which always turned out to be a huge source of anxiety for me. And yet, when I woke up and thought about the coming weeks, I realized I had jumped back into my old patterns and rhythms. A speaker I heard at the Himalayan Institute at New Year's talked about it being like the grooves in a record - as we make patterns in our lives, ways of living, those become like grooves, and the needle plays those same grooves over and over and over again. Until we wake up and realize that groove is not working for us, not bringing about the peace and stillness we may deeply desire. This groove, well-worn and well-established, of planning and doing and packing my schedule so full, is deep. I had two weeks of feeling free of it, yet I became aware this morning, that I'm playing the old song again, even when I KNOW that is not the way I want to live!
In yoga, these old grooves, these patterns, are called samskaras: general patterns, as well as individual ideas, impressions, or actions. Yoga philosophy speaks of various ways of overcoming our samskaras, or of breaking their hold and repetitive patterns in our lives. Here are two great articles about this: http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/1318 and http://www.freddiewyndhamyoga.com/philosophy/samskaras.php. But as a simple step, bringing awareness to the samskaras is very powerful. Awareness, and then a vigilance to live differently. Each time I choose to step away from that groove, to change my thoughts or actions, the pull of the groove gets weaker and weaker, until, eventually, it has no power anymore.
I am aware of this samskara - this habit, and occasional compulsion - to book and book and schedule myself until I can't breathe. It has to do with needing to feel important, needing to feel connected, needing to have plans, needing to be in control. Oh so many things I think I need! :) But as I follow these "needs", and try to fill the needs with plans and busyness, I end up feeling empty, exhausted, pulled in too many directions, anxious. And, I know, that when I let go of the grasping and planning, when I DON'T plan my weekends up for the next three months, I feel a great sense of relief and rest and stillness inside. I have space to breathe and rest, and often really wonderful connections and meetings and events come, in the moment, that I am able to enjoy and take part in. Because they came as part of the flow, not as part of my scheduled grasping and holding. Ahhhh.
Old habits are hard to break :) And I will choose softness, even in noticing that - I won't beat myself up, I won't berate myself. I will simply, softly, observe and be aware. And then choose to step out of that groove :)