Definition: The word ‘samskara’ comes from the Sanskrit ‘sam’ meaning joined together and ‘kara’ meaning action or cause. Beyond generalized patterns, ‘samskaras’ are individual impressions, ideas, actions or formations; taken together, our ‘samskaras’ make up our conditioning.
Impressions are like seeds that grow in the soil of our body, speech, and mind. Hands cultivate and nurture, it is up to us which seeds we let grow and which seeds we keep fallow.
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
3.18 samskara saksat karanat purva jati jnanam
Through the direct perception of the latent impressions (samskaras) comes the knowledge of previous incarnations. — Patanjali
If you think about it, a trigger is actually a very small part of a gun. What actually gives off the power and sound is the gunpowder loaded inside – our unconscious patterns. Samskara are the mental and emotional patterns that shape our experience and responses to life in both positive and negative ways. When you’re triggered by an external event, what’s happening is that a negative samskara within you has been activated, flooding you with emotion that colours your perception and causes an unconscious reaction.
Our negative samskaras are the “scars of samsara” that are accumulated from both present life and previous lifetimes. If you repeatedly pick at a scab it will not heal; healing samskaras takes time, attention, patience and awareness, but this is the human journey. Once you start becoming aware of your negative samskaras, you’ll begin to realize how these familiar patterns repeat as they show up in similar situations throughout life. When viewed with wisdom and compassion, they teach important lessons that help us mature and evolve. You also learn how to develop positive samskaras by changing your thoughts, feelings and actions with positive reinforcement.
Have you been triggered by situations that may be rooted in a deep need to be loved or acknowledged? Where in your life are you reacting out of fear of rejection or losing control? What practice helps you look beneath the surface into the patterns that are driving your perceptions and behaviour?
This process of unveiling often begins by noticing and inquiring into your body sensations and their corresponding emotional states. It takes courage to look beyond your conditionings. Fortunately, since your true essence can never be cut, burned, or injured, the scars of samsara can be released and healed through compassion and aligning with your authentic self.