Samskara (and the awesome and the awful)

Those of you who have been attending my classes for the past couple of weeks already know that my overall theme for the fall session is cultivating a sense of wonder (abhuta). Feeling wonder is one aspect of the Anusara principle of “opening to grace.” It is seeing who we are and what we are within space and time with a sense of amazement at the limitations and the foibles, as well as the strengths and delights.

This week I was thinking about abhuta in the context of samskara — the markings or grooves or scars in our being from how we have lived our lives (and perhaps past lives, if those were also lived by us — personally not sure about that). I had a dialogue earlier this week that resulted from over 110 years of combined history that was not optimal. Reflecting on the precipitating factors, though, and marveling at the web of history, environment, education, and action that combined to give rise to the conversation led me to a sense of wonder indeed. It is by cultivating the ability to step back and appreciate the wondrousness of the dance that we learn from a steady practice that, I think, can help make it possible to shift in how we behave and react to things.

From a physical perspective, most of our challenges and difficulties are based on what we have done with and in our bodies over the course of our lives. We use the yoga alignment principles to create new grooves and to shift from the old repetitive patterns, so that we can not only alleviate pain and misalignment, but to expand the possibility of discovering ever more joy and wonder in and through our bodies and senses. Both the physical and meditation practices help us shift similar patterns (dissolve and transform samscaras and their impact), so that instead of deepening old grooves, we erase or dissolve them and create new life-enhancing ones.

It may seem odd to marvel at our stuff, especially when it does not appear to be serving us, but keep in mind that both the awesome and the awful, being both all about awe, can give rise to a recognition of the great and exquisite mysteries of being.


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