Meanderings, channels, and patterns

The path of the Mississippi River over the centuries

The path of the Mississippi River over the centuries

This beautiful image is actually a map of the Mississippi River produced by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1940s detailing how the river has meandered over time.  My teacher, Genny Kapuler, shared a copy of this in class recently in order to make a point about patterns and channels.  

We have channels in the subtle body:  the chakras and the nadis which are energetic channels mapped by ancient yogis.  We have the channels of our gross anatomy:  the blood vessels of the circulatory system, neurons of the nervous system, lymphatic vessels of the lymphatic system.  All of these channels just snaking through our bodies.  We are teeming with channels.  We can take all of this a step further to consider the patterns and channels we create with our thoughts and our feelings, our words and our actions.  

In yoga there is a term for the patterns we create in these ways:  samscaras.  Do you see the word "scar" embedded there?  With each thought, feeling, word or action, we are creating a little groove of patterning that may inform future thoughts/feelings/words/actions.  For example, each time I tell a friend that I am "lazy" I reinforce the pattern.  Each time i just think it or feel it without even verbalizing it, I reinforce the pattern.  I am creating this little groove in my brain (and maybe in my heart) that I am "lazy".  This groove is like a deepening rut on a muddy road; it becomes harder and harder to break free.  I have noticed this pattern and have chosen to replace "lazy" with "unmotivated", but I'm not sure if this is better.  I am sure, though, that the act of noticing the pattern is a very important step in the process.  From there I can choose to change the pattern if it doesn't seem helpful or healthy, or reinforce the pattern if it does seem helpful (like flossing my teeth every night - Thanks, Jessica).

And like the delightful map of the many routes the Mississippi River has taken over time, our patterns will meander and change, forming new channels, hopefully healthier channels.  We have our whole lives to work on this.  Which may be daunting or a relief, depending on our individual patterns, I suppose.