Hindus and Buddhists have a word to describe volitional formations, mental dispositions formed by an inner will that affects action patterns, that word is samskāra. As with most words of an ancient language or philosophy, the sentiment of samskāra has remained steady in contemporary times but the meaning often deviates.
One of my yoga teachers says that samskāra is the perpetual habits that bind us to our past, present and future. Our life’s work (or many lives’ work) could be to free ourselves from this karma, eventually breaking away from the binds of our own samskāra.
If we take a deep look at our life and the pathways we follow, we discover patterns; similarities in the people we spend time with, the choices we make, the food we eat, etc. These details, however small, are not trivial. When we make conscious decisions to tweak our habits and begin to etch new trails time organically deepens these grooves and takes us down freshly cut roads.
Perhaps because I am convinced this is my last life, I like to take short cuts. Did you know that 87% of the population has three main interests and these are reflected by the magazines they buy? Here’s a short cut, the next time you go to a magazine rack, pick three magazines that you have no interest in, and read them cover to cover. You may find that you didn’t care for the content, but in this act you did something very important, you broke a pattern and exposed yourself to someone else’s trip.
From here, the possibilities are endless; you may find yourself obsessed with breaking patterns.
A few more pattern changers:
1. Change your hair style (74% of men do not change their “do” after the age of 24, for the rest of their life!)
2. Talk to a stranger.
3. Take the long way home.
4. Try new foods.
5. Listen more than you usually do; we have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly.
6. Go roller-skating.
7. Listen to new music, like really listen.
8. Write a letter to someone you haven’t talked to in years.
9. Do something that you thought you couldn’t.
10. Now you tell me something…I am all ears.