V is for Vāsanā: Finding Your True Self Through Yoga

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See the sun?
See what it is telling you?
What did it say to you this morning when your eyes met it for the first time on this new day?
A hundred people can look at the same sun and see a hundred different stories written in it.

In Ancient Buddhism and Vedanta – and in Yoga – this is attributed to Vasana.
A Vasana is a an impression upon the mind that generates a conditioned response.
A memory of behavior that is threaded into the fabric of our being.
A tendency rooted in our consciousness that shapes our inclinations and behaviors.

We all have them.
Several of them.
Several hundreds of them.
Collectively within us they form the basis of our individual world view, our reactions to what we see in the world, our behavior in the world. Our vasanas will drive us to form the opinions we will, take the sides we will, push for the action that we want – be that positive or negative.

And yet, Yoga teaches that the vasanas are not a real representation of our true Self.
The vasanas are actually a disturbance to who we really are.
Yoga teaches us that the vasanas create modifications to our true consciousness that we need to undo to experience and manifest our true Self. Until they are released, those of us who are not enlightened souls, are all imperfect and ignorant, not knowing who or what we really are.

And this is the purpose of Yoga itself – as written by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

‘Yogaś citta-vritti- nirodhaḥ’  (Chapter 1. verse ii)
‘Yoga is the cessation of the turbulence of the mind’

The practice of yoga takes us back the true Self by weakening the vasanas until they fall away and the Self is revealed.
Yoga teaches us that when we know the true Self, we will be in a space of deep silence, a space of complete unity and a place of non action – because when we see the world from the true Self, we experience that suffering is itself an illusion; we will not see any other as separate from our Self; we will see that what we say of the Other we say of our Self. Because when we know the Self, we know that there is no separation between us and the world we live in: We are One part of One interconnected beating cosmos. We are One.

It is a process. And we will fail many times on the way.
We will fail, and fail and fail.
But with practice, eventually says Vedanta – the Self will shine forth.
I fail several times every day.
I live and breathe in the world. I react to it. I call for action in it. I believe in the need for change.
I try to keep my awareness with my Self.
Sometimes I feel that the the Self is closer.
Sometimes I feel I am far away from it.
Sometimes I see my vasanas get the better of me.
But I always to promise to try again – and let my failures fail at holding me back.
I make my yoga.
I practice.
I always practice.
And I will keep practicing until the Self shines forth.

And You?

 

Photo credit: lululemon athletica

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