I tried looking up a specific definition in the “Yoga Sutras” but I didn’t find one.
For those of you who aren’t yoga-practitioners, as I’ve inferred from class, “imprints” are the associations our mind makes which shapes our routines, habits, judgements and perceptions. They can be trivial like having chips with a sandwich or the urge for a soda at a movie theater. But they can also run very deep as in, My mom always told me I have no sense for fashion. Or, My father always told me I was stupid, and thus you think these statements are true for your entire life. (FYI…these are just generic examples and do not pertain to me.)
Actually I think it’s rather funny when a teacher asks about our imprints because the word is subtle and soft in meaning as if it’s a footprint left in the sand. But let’s be honest, some of the experiences we’ve been through feel more like being knifed in the gut and the wound has been hardened by a keloid scar. Would you call that gash an “imprint?” Hell no!
In building our self-awareness and digging into the less obvious, some imprints are sneaky culprits because they seem natural and harmless. No teacher ever suggests we should stop eating chips with our sandwiches.
But unexamined imprints are dangerous when they are unconsciously pulling us away from our center and distracting us from being our most authentic selves.
I have an imprint that’s been bothering me lately. I’m a work hard/play hard kind of gal and particularly on Friday and Saturday nights I get these anxious feelings when I’m alone in my apartment as if I should be doing something more with myself.
Especially being in NYC, I walk by people sitting in outdoor cafes with friends and family, see women of similar age on t.v. out on the town, and read about the beach-town weekend happenings on the society pages. Overall, I feel bothered and restless, like a social outcast.
Why? Where did this imprint come from?
I think the “Friday/Saturday Marquee” began back in elementary school when it was the time for slumber parties. Come Monday morning, you would hear about how popular or not you were depending on if you were invited.
I had strict, controlling parents who interrogated us as if we were setting out to commit first-degree murderer, so sometimes we didn’t bother to ask and we just stayed in the social prison of our rooms. I always felt I was missing out…
As we grew up, slumber parties changed to needing more financial support and the barter system was “when we give you money, we get to dominate you.” I finally told my parents where they could stick their controlling ways so I started working when I was fifteen. In defending my independence I ended up putting myself through college.
Between working full-time and studying, somehow I had a boyfriend who I met at work and his best friend told him “she has no life” which he passed on to me. (I do have a well-documented streak of dating total assholes.)
When I was done with school, free from my parents, and just had to work I went crazy and partied five to six days a week for about eight years. I finally got the “popular girl” experience.
Now I didn’t develop the deepest relationships during those times because no one really cared about each other. It was all about being a party companion and maintaining a cliched facade of a “Sex and the City” type of lifestyle.
Turns out, I wasn’t missing out on as much as I thought I was.
In fact, I was one of the first to depart my group of superficial girlfriends because I wanted something more than the three B’s that defined their existence (boys, bars, and bouncers) and I chose to focus on my career for which I was chastised for “not having a life.”
I like to learn new things. I enjoy a feeling of accomplishment and to be surrounded by people who are pursuing a higher purpose. THIS is my center!
If I were to go out every Friday and Saturday night I’d do it just to do it. It would be futile and fueled by a hollow motive. Why do I need to water down my life to satisfy society’s standards?
And somehow working through all of this, settles the anxiety because I realize the ideals of what Friday and Saturday nights should be is not coming from me, it’s coming from the outside. Those are the imprints that have been left on me and are still chipping away at my essence.
How many times are we yanked off course, away from our center, because we haven’t examined the root of the imprint?
We have to stay judicious and question the motives of our actions, perceptions, and habits. Are they true to us or do they belong to others? Where did they come from? Do they serve us in supporting our authenticity?
I’ll leave you with these quotes:
“If you want to be happy stop rushing to conform.” – Deepak Chopra
to live by choice, not by chance;
to make changes, not excuses;
to be motivated, not manipulated;
to be useful, not used;
to excel, not to compete.
I choose self-esteem, not self-pity.
I choose to listen to my inner voice,
Not the random opinion of others.
I choose to be me.” – Unknown
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost from The Road Not Taken