Today I thought I’d share the idea of each person’s inherent tendencies in our individual human natures. There is a Sanskrit term called a Vāsanā which is defined as a behavioural tendency or karmic imprint that influences the present behaviour of a person. It is a technical term in Indian philosophy, particularly Yoga, as well as in Buddhist philosophy and in Advaita Vedanta, from Vedic practice.
Vasanas can be good or not good: for example, a person may have a vasana to respond lovingly. This is a good vasana. It’s good to be responding with love when someone is in need but when this becomes a compulsive behaviour that must be done since not doing so creates guilt, this is not so good. Doing good when responding with love is wonderful, yet a time of resentment may arise in the same person if this doing good is now expected (from their own minds or from a person/group receiving the loving help). This changes the energy of the help provided yet there my be an inherent tendency to still do the helping out of a “must do good” vasana… which is not so loving to the self or the other. This would be a something to learn from by either knowing when to ask for help or knowing when to take a break. At the end of the day the person helping will not be helping themselves or others as their mood and energy will change (this is the pattern many may recognize from caregivers for chronically-ill family or friends).
On the other side, a not good vasana may be noticeable when, for example, a person responds defensively because a current situation has triggered a past unpleasant memory. This person may react angrily, or through other noticeable mood and behaviour shifts that are not pleasant for themselves or others around them. This would be a tendency to also learn from. So a vasana is the habitual or automatic response to situations.
Vasanas can be thought of as ingrained patterns of behavior. A vasana can also mean a desire for/expectation of something, or through knowledge that is derived from memory. A simple example: If a person has enjoyed an ice cream one day, the memory of this pleasure can create a “vasana” for experiencing this again (oh my! I may have created this very same vasana this summer)! Yes, they are inherent tendencies and we can create new tendencies any time). Another example: If someone has been hurt in a relationship, he/she may feel that future relationships (or even the same) will hurt them again.
Vasanas are obstacles to spiritual growth, peace and sustained happiness. They are obstacles because they are skewed by our past experiences, opinions and desires. They create restlessness in the mind and attachments to the objects of desire — be they material objects (like clothes, food, alcohol, drugs… and not limited to these either), love, or success.
In order to obtain spiritual growth and eventual liberation/realization/enlightenment, the spiritual seeker or consciously-evolving person must free him/herself from vasanas. Yoga practices such as meditation, breath work, and mantra chanting, are tools that can help achieve the freedom of the mind’s tendency to create and recreate patterns that can lead to experiences/emotions/symptoms linked with attachment to perceived needs (this dis-satisfaction is what most would call “suffering”).
This is why thoughts, words and actions are so very important to pay mindful-attention to. Understanding our own emotions and then our thought-patterns are the “easiest” (or at least most direct) ways to improve and modify our natural instinctive and inherent tendencies to allow us to reach the higher planes of consciousness that allow blissful experiences for ourselves and the world around us.
I hope you will think about some of your own inherent tendencies/vasanas and mindfully-attend to your conscious evolution! If you need assistance for this learning and/or help in healing emotional or patterned responses that no longer serve you, do reach out to me through my email: email@example.com or through text/phone at 416-920-8975.
Wishing you a good evening and rest of the weekend!