I have known for a long time the power of the childhood learning, but have not fully appreciated it until lately.
As I was growing up, I can remember listening to the Milwaukee Braves on the kitchen radio on hot summer weekend afternoons, especially in late September when the Braves were in a pennant race, or on the barn radio as I helped milk the cows. When they lost, my mom and I would be really unhappy. When they won, my dad and I would rejoice with a barnyard howl. My emotional life seemed to rise and fall with the results of the game.
Well, the Braves moved to Atlanta and I began to forget about professional baseball. I was no longer on an emotional roller coaster during the summer, until the Brewers came to Milwaukee from Seattle. I was now married with kids and the boys and I listened intently to the Brewers play. They even became Brewers’ fan club members. I found my emotional life again affected directly as to how well the Brewers were playing.
Well, the kids grew up and baseball didn’t seem that important to me any more, until recently. But recently when the Brewers play well and win I find myself feeling peaceful and content; when they lose I feel down, quiet and almost depressed. I say to myself, “That’s silly. Why am I letting a silly baseball game influence my peace of mind, my emotional state?”
I even try to deny the power that the Brewers’ performance had over me, but when I do that I am living in a fantasy world. I realize now how powerful our early childhood emotional learnings are. As yoga says, those early learnings become powerful samskaras and samskaras (mental patterns) are the curse of experiencing unity with the divine in one’s life. I realize how important it is for us to insure that our children have consistent, good and positive experiences as they grow up, because all childhood learning, especially when it affects us emotionally, will affect us throughout our entire life.
Those samskaras affect our entire emotional and mental life. The remedy for this mental and emotional slavery, according to yoga, is meditation. It is the practice of non-attachment called “vairagya.” We learn this deeply when we meditate.
For me this is important empowerment because I am concerned not for myself, but for all young children, especially my grandchildren. I long for them all to have loving, positive experiences. I long for them all to experience nurturing and security, love and tenderness, and success so that as they grow older and become more powerful. As adults then they will use their power to truly benefit others because they remember how good they felt as they were cared for and given safety and nourishment. They can then, even as children, learn to meditate and let go (vairagya) of any of the disturbing thought patterns (samskaras).
This awareness of my bondage to my childhood memories (even though mine were just about baseball) helps me feel very connected to the uncontrollable urges that those who were raised in terrible situations must be feeling and acting on. I no longer feel a sense of condemnation for those who get really angry and depressed because things don’t go their way. I no longer judge harshly those who even with a few beers in them hurt another person because the Packers lost. I know what early childhood learning (deep samskaras) can do for all of us.
I now am committing myself to learn to re-program my emotional life so that I am no longer controlled by external events, like baseball or football games or abuses that I experienced as a youngster.
Yoga has given me the means to do that. Alleluia!