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Let Go of Samskara & Say Yes to Yourself!

A seemingly serendipitous event has left me reflecting on one of my habits or samskaras (loosely translated as deep impressions).

Recently, I found myself gazing at my computer keyboard while browsing Facebook. I noticed how fingerprinted the keys and screen had become so I grabbed a cloth and began cleaning. The computer was not shut off so the screen began rapidly changing and blinking as I swiped across the keyboard. As I was finished, one of those inspirational sayings, posted by one of my friends, appeared in full screen When you say yes to others make sure you are not saying no to yourself.

That message, which was either pure coincidence or a Divine intervention of some sort, was the push I needed to face one of my biggest challenges. I am the consummate people pleaser. I have mastered the art of the attempting to make others happy. Problem is I often sacrifice myself in the process. This is one of the things I love (and that sometimes annoys me) about living a life that is constantly working toward enlightenment. My emotional baggage comes out , stares me down then demands a resolution of whatever problem is holding me back. That’s the hard part. I do know that once I work past what is preventing me from living my best life, I typically feel joyful, like a major weight has been lifted off my shoulders, literally — as I’ve been practicing shoulder stand to help change my negative samskara. More on that later.

Letting go of a samskara takes both diligence and willingness to work through the habit. The word samskara comes from the Sanskrit sam, complete or joined together and kara means doing or action. Samskaras are actions, impressions or ideas that combine and make up our conditioning. The more a samskara is repeated, the stronger it grows and the harder it is to stop.

My samskaras that make others people’s opinions about me and what I am doing matter more than my own opinions must cease to exist. People pleasing keeps you stuck, it negates personal development and it’s exhausting. So I am working on being okay with being unpopular, at least some of the time. Here’s my plan of attack: opening my 5th Chakra (Vishuddha or throat chakra). I’m doing this through a regular series of poses, breath work and meditation. My favorite throat chakra balancers are Ustrasana (Camel pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge), and Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) and Mats asana (Fish). I also plan to do a juice cleanse to wash away all the built up yuck that has invaded my body as the result of  not speaking my truth sometimes.

The good news is, I have accepted that painful events and difficult situations will always happen, but I can choose not to suffer (there is a big difference between pain and suffering!). I am thankful for the yogic tools that I can call upon when I need some tuning up in my life and even when I just need some maintenance.

I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: which is: Try to please everybody. -Herbert Bayard Swope, American Journalist and Editor



Julia began her personal yoga journey in 1991 and continues her training and study of yoga and meditation with master teachers and those she considers to be master teachers. She is also well versed in both Ayurveda and holistic nutrition. A former television news producer, Julia now writes about yoga, health and wellness. Among her written works, a book, Just Me and the Trees which is a guide to meditation for children. Find Julia on Facebook at StudioLotus.

View more articles by Julia Cohn

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