In the yogic tradition, it is believed that our conditioning is born from mental formations called samskaras. Samskaras are deep impressions in our consciousness. Just as water creates an impression in stone over time, samskaras are grooves in the mind as a result of our constitution and karmic inheritance. They are, in essence, patterns.
Patterns are also not necessarily bad. We yearn for patterns, for ritual and stability. We see it in our daily behaviors, the foods we eat, the repetitive nature of the music we listen to, and the measurement of time (seconds, minutes, hours) that we rely on to parcel out our existence. Even perhaps the most primordial pattern, the heartbeat, is a symbol of life itself--a pattern that measures the very core of our existence. To disrupt patterns is to face the inevitable, to face death.
So how do we work on patterns?
Yoga and meditation practice are a wonderful place to start. By committing ourselves to a sadhana (practice), we are able to see how we change in relationship to that sadhana. We can work physically through the asana practice to address patterns of movement in the body. We all favor a direction of movement, a pose or part of the body; through yoga asana we can explore breaking up our routine. Choose to move or be still based on whichever is less habitual; taking a rigorous vinyasa class if you usually go for a gentle restorative or vice versa. By changing up our movement, we challenge our brains and our bodies and stimulate new neural pathways which becomes increasingly solidified as we age.
Emotional patterns are much deeper and more complex. We can recognize emotional patterns when we feel triggered, when we feel stuck in a response towards someone or something, and when we get in a rut of chronic laziness, fear, rage, or sadness. Just as habitual tension in the body creates knots, we also have "knots" in our subconscious that need to be massaged. A simple breath before reacting to a situation or person can be enough to disrupt our usual response. Oftentimes, a greater pause is needed, which is why a meditation practice or traditional retreat is valuable. The ancient yogins understood that life is full of distractions and that we are in a constant cycle of accepting and rejecting, clinging and rejection. A meditation practice or retreat is a precious time to disrupt the habits of the mind by reducing external phenomena and observing our reactions without indulging in them. With awareness, time, and patience, we can work on even the deepest samskaras.
If you'd like to connect over a session to work on your personal patterns, please feel free to reach out.