Samskara, imprints of 'you'
Written by
October 2019
Written by
October 2019

Remarkable how fast old patterns return once you find yourself back in the same spot from where you left. Being back in Belgium after a two months stay in India, I kept cooking and eating the same Indian food but I noticed how my mind wanted to return to its former habits.

Because of the different climate and colder atmosphere of Belgium, my joints inflamed, producing a burning and acrid pain. Clearly, the elements were out of balance. Therefore eating yoghurt was no longer an option. Whereas in India it cooled down excessive fire in the body. So I had to review my diet. I didn’t buy any bread though and bought chapattis in the Himalaya exotic market.

Day by day it became plain that if I was to end the daily spiritual routine of the ashram I would end up letting some former samskaras rule my thinking and acting. So in order to maintain spiritual transformation, it’s crucial to integrate spiritual practice on a daily basis.                                   

When I was in Indonesia (4 years ago) one of the elderly teachers kept reminding us “That we forget”. At the time I didn’t quite understand her fully but now I experience her words. Because of the ongoing chatter of our mind (citta vritti) it veils are truth and therefore our spiritual maturity. Although the deep transformational core stays. I mean….it’s obvious when you go from shadow to light you become a completely different person.

The elderly teacher – Rose Baudin – mentioned several times the concept of “samskara”. She used the metaphor of rain on a mountain hill to explain what they are.  See; the water of the rain makes little streams along the side of the mountain leaving an imprint in the ground structure. When it’s no longer raining and the soil begins to dry little imprints can stay but the streams will disappear. So a person’s identity is formed by all kinds of imprints or qualities and characteristics.

When it keeps raining the streams become rivers making the samskaras into vasanas. Deep carved (unaware) roots like fear and addictions are vasanas.

The first few weeks after my return a little bit of fear arose. I think it was social change. In the ashram, you are never really alone but at home I do am singly.

First thing I did after my homecoming was lighting the ghee lamp on the bamboo board. The plank also showed a double triangle I had drawn with rice, a bowl of water where I had put a flower in from the garden and next to the triangles was a little bit of sandalwood showing off its wonderful fragrance. 

I didn’t mind chanting on my one. I love to sing and the vibrations of the Sanskrit syllables made my chest vibrate and my heart produces even more love.

In the morning I’m awake at 04 am. The ghee lamp, still burning from the evening before, seems to have a thin glow. I sat down in padmasana, petting the dog’s neck and belly until he lay down resting next to me on the yoga mat. The Tibetan bells gently awakened the elements and the mind – being very receptive before sunrise – kept silent.

Om Namo Narayanaya.

During chanting ‘santosh and gratitude’ simply arose.

Pranayama was next. Bringing the chin down for Jalandhara bandha I performed Ujjajji breathing. First by simply observing the in- and outflow of the breath and being very alert to the sounds of it. I left the tummy and Mula bandha soft giving complete freedom to the breath. I could feel how this kept the belly warm, the brain cool and the mind steady. When all outher sensations were no longer I started elongating the outbreath. And at the same time – only during outbreath – I tensed softly the elevator ani (Mula bandha).

The bodily sensation of ‘hunger’ was no longer distinct. Instead, the sound ‘ham’ became all-pervasive. It is the exhale returning to its source. Hammmmmmmmm. And when the lungs were finally empty I could receive the breathing in, entering my body with the sound ‘so’.

So Ham.

For spiritual practise and contemplation, the only things you need are your body and mind. Since those two (body/mind) create and experience their own creation they are the only instruments you need. Of course, it is easier living in a place where people support a spiritual lifestyle – like an ashram – but it is not required for your spiritual process.

By keeping your body/mind healthy and pure all negative samskaras produced by your own identity lose their power on your thinking, speaking and behaviour. Keeping you closer to truth.

The mind is tricky indeed but the practices will keep you grounded for the challenges to come.


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