Old habits die hard it’s said.
But are they habits, or grooves? Samskaras — they’re called in yogi tradition. They are the go-to place where we find our feet when we’re stressed, our gut level reactions. They can be a positive or negative force in our lives.
How we react is thought to be the result of many lifetimes of experiences. We bring ourselves to these same grooves over and over again. They are the emotional security blankets of our lives, be they functional or dysfunctional — they serve their purposes.
We can name them — addictions in the case of the addict, rituals in the case of OCD, coping mechanisms for someone we judge as ‘balanced’. But it’s the same process. Its our grooves — the place we are driven to when we are looking for peace, relief, and comfort.
It takes a fair bit of self reflection to hoe out your samskaras. Most are unconscious in nature.
My groove of choice is solitude. And while that doesn’t sound particularly devastating — it can make relationships and the holidays tricky business.
I find peace and comfort in being alone. I cope best with the stress of living. Alone. I pull into myself and meditate or practice yoga. Alone. I read or write. Alone. I walk. Alone. I live alone and rarely entertain. Completely content to meet others ‘out’ and no longer be a hostess, I protect my home like sacred ground.
I grew up as an only child. I learned to entertain myself from jump. Social interactions with my peers were always wrought with anxiety and discomfort. I found peace in solitude from my earliest memories. And so the groove was laid.
This particular samskara has been a blessing in my life. It has allowed me the time to examine my inner landscape. It has helped me develop a meditation and yoga practice which are positive samskaras of their own accord these days. Spending time on my own lets me rest from all the stress of social interactions that drain me. Even the best of friendships and relationships require a give and take from both parties. To fill my well and have something to share with those I love, I need to refuel. Alone.
When I looked at what I needed, what this samskara was really about — and started respecting the gift it was — I found my life came into balance. I was able to be Real Ann. I was able to find a sense of contentment instead of feeling like I was on a never ending treadmill and someone else had set the speed.
Ironically, while I spend large chunks of time alone, I am rarely lonely. In fact, the few times I have felt most lonely has been in the company of others who did not see me. It has never been simply in my own company.
As this holiday season begins — take a moment to breathe. Look at your grooves. Ask yourself what you need to truly enjoy the next four weeks and don’t be afraid to give yourself that gift. Time, solitude, extra rest. Give yourself permission to let go of the things that no longer serve you. Trust me — no one will miss it if you don’t send them a Christmas card this year. Or if you bake one less batch of cookies. Find your samskara to peace. And embrace it.