We human beings are creatures of habits. Literally. And frankly, this is more than a quaint aphorism, it’s a statement of neurobiological fact.
The more often you repeat a thought or behavior, the more likely it is to be repeated. Neurobiologists refer to this process as synaptic plasticity; the ancient yogis called these networked neurons samskaras. Yes, the nervous system it seems is a programmable mechanism.
It the most simple of terms, a samskara is an ingrained mental pattern or habit, one that is most typically caused by a repeated pattern of thinking or behavior. Samkaras are powerful mental forces able to color perceptions, trigger emotions, and yes, drive behavior. What we think, say, and do have effects on how our lives unfold far beyond what most of us believe.
So, humanus emptor (human beware).
But here’s the good news in all of this. You can just as easily program good habits into the nervous system as bad ones. And this is why we’ve chose the theme Momentum for February.
So many of us are inspired to begin anew each New Year: eating better, exercising, and reconnecting with our yoga practices. All too often however, in mere weeks these best of intentions wither and our older, more deeply ingrained samskaras or habits take over.
That is to say, the old weeds come back before the new flowers have had a chance to blossom. And helping you blossom is what we’re all about here at Yoga Pura.
Thus my invitation this month is to be vigilant for the powerful pull of old unhelpful habits and to use the momentum you’ve created from your New Year’s resolutions to give your new, helpful habits a chance to take root.
Understanding that everything you think, say, and do has an effect on your samskaras (and thus your future thinking and behavior), dig deep to stay on course for bettering your body, mind, and life.
Smile often, play daily, and connect with your yoga practice at least three times a week. Before you know it, momentum (and your samskaras) will take over and you’ll find yourself firmly on the path to better and better.
P.S. If haven’t yet made any New Year resolutions, it’s never too late to live better. Start today!
About the Author
Eric Walrabenstein is a nationally-recognized speaker, teacher, and author and is one of the most sought-after authorities on the application of yogic technology for self healing and empowerment in the nation. As the founder of one of Arizona’s largest yoga centers, and Arizona's first 500-hour Master-Level Yoga Teacher Training Program, Eric has long been dedicated to making ancient wisdom and techniques practical and relevant for people from all walks of life.
In addition to his work in his wellness center in Phoenix, Arizona, he is the creator of BOOTSTRAP, a yoga-based program to help troops and veterans heal from post traumatic stress as well as BetterBox, a subscription box revolutionizing the self-improvement industry. An ordained Yogacharya (preceptor of yoga), Eric is currently finishing a book on the Science of Happiness.