In yoga there is a term that is referred to in Pantjali’s Yoga Sutras (the ancient teachings of yoga that date back to over 2,000 years old) called samskaras – which are the habitual patterns of our mind that make up our conditioning.

What I have been reflecting on within myself of late is just how many of these there are and how can I go about in my day-to-day life shifting some of these.

I guess first of all, why would I want to change certain patterns of my mind? To put it simply, because it causes me suffering! And I have decided that this is a good enough reason.

So how do I go about this? Well, first of all I need to be diligent enough to start to notice what type of thought pattern is causing me not to feel so great. Perhaps it causes some disturbance that leaves me worrying, or thinking in a way that is not so pleasant.

The next step is to be honest about it.  To “fess up” about it… not to deny that those thought patterns are there, but to own it. With the honesty can then come change.

Once I start to notice the thought pattern, I have a choice. I could keep the “story” that is playing out in my mind going, or, I could choose to recognise that this is a “story” that is not serving me and not feed it. This doesn’t mean I just ignore it. It means I recognise it for what it is,  but I choose not give it more power by delving into it.

What I also find very useful at that point, is to bring it back to my body. To connect and feel my body. What is going on for my body at the time? Is there somewhere in my body where I feel tension? And if there is (which there usually is), I let myself sit with what I feel, without judgement and just feel it. And, sometimes it shifts and sometimes it doesn’t. Not being attached to an outcome but to just be with it. And then the next time the same pattern comes up, I try it again.

I have found the more I can work with this process, the more I have been able to look at my samskaras and they start to slowly shift. I have become quicker at picking them up and it has become like a game. I can now look at them with a sense of playfullness, knowing that they aren’t really me, that they are just something that I have chosen to hang on to for a while. Perhaps it’s time now to let it go.

Donna Nolan is a Sydney based Yoga Teacher and Esoteric Healing practitioner. She teaches private, group & corporate classes. She offers Esoteric Therapy sessions at her clinic in Cammeray and in Balgowlah (Northern Beaches).