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Vasanas, a term deeply rooted in Indian philosophy, particularly within the context of Vedanta, are subtle impressions or ‘traces’ left by past experiences and actions in our subconscious mind. These impressions are not just remnants of our past actions and experiences, but they actively influence our current thoughts, desires, and behavior.

Derived from the Sanskrit root ‘vas’, which means ‘to dwell’ or ‘to reside’, Vasanas can be seen as the imprints that reside in our subconscious, quietly shaping our inclinations and tendencies. They are like the undercurrents in the ocean of our consciousness, often unnoticed but powerful enough to direct the flow of our thoughts and actions.

How Vasanas Affect Our Thinking

Vasanas play a pivotal role in the way we think. They are like lenses through which we view the world, often without realizing it. For example, if someone has a Vasana or impression from past experiences that the world is a threatening place, they are more likely to perceive situations as dangerous or threatening, even when they are not. This perception is not just a passive process; it actively shapes the person’s thoughts, leading to a more anxious or defensive mindset.

Similarly, positive Vasanas can lead to a more optimistic outlook. Someone who has developed impressions of trust and safety might view the world as a benevolent place, influencing their thoughts towards more positive and hopeful directions.

The Impact of Vasanas on Behavior

The influence of these mental tendencies extends beyond our thoughts into our actions and behaviors. They are the subtle drivers behind our habits and responses. For instance, a person with a strong Vasana for comfort and ease might gravitate towards choices that minimize effort, even if those choices aren’t in their best interest in the long term.

Conversely, someone with disciplined and focused Vasanas might find it easier to engage in activities that require effort and persistence. These behavioral tendencies are not just random; they are deeply rooted in the impressions formed by our past experiences and actions.

Removing Vasanas: A Path to Freedom

The process of removing or diluting Vasanas is central to many spiritual and philosophical practices in Indian traditions. Here are some steps one can take to work on their Vasanas:

  1. Awareness: The first step is to become aware of your Vasanas. Mindfulness and self-reflection practices can help you identify the subtle impressions that are influencing your thoughts and actions.
  2. Understanding: Once you are aware of your Vasanas, seek to understand them. Where did they come from? What experiences or actions have contributed to these impressions?
  3. Conscious Choices: Start making conscious choices that

go against the grain of your Vasanas. If you have a tendency towards laziness, for example, consciously choose activities that require effort and discipline. This practice of going against your natural inclinations can help weaken the hold of these impressions.

  1. Meditation and Mindfulness: Engaging in regular meditation and mindfulness practices can significantly aid in diluting Vasanas. These practices help in calming the mind, bringing clarity, and reducing the automatic reactions driven by these impressions.
  2. Positive Reinforcement: Actively seek to create positive experiences and actions that can form healthier Vasanas. Surround yourself with positive influences, engage in acts of kindness, and cultivate habits that are beneficial to your well-being.
  3. Seeking Guidance: Sometimes, the guidance of a teacher or mentor can be invaluable in understanding and overcoming deep-seated Vasanas. They can provide perspective, techniques, and support on this journey.
  4. Patience and Perseverance: Remember that Vasanas are formed over a lifetime, and changing them is a process that requires time, patience, and consistent effort. Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge the small victories along the way.

A summary

Vasanas are powerful subconscious impressions that shape our thoughts and behaviors. By understanding them and consciously working to transform them, we can gain greater control over our actions and reactions, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life. The journey to overcome Vasanas is not just about changing habits but is a profound journey of self-discovery and transformation.