By Dr. Srilekha Karthik
A direct correlation exists between the early experiences in life and the subconscious behavioral and emotional patterns in the adult lives of people. At a very early age in life, starting from gestation till about five years of age, when a child is faced with a situation where he experiences powerlessness, anger, hurt or some such emotion, the ideas he forms about himself and the world from his immature thinking remain embedded in him forever and continue to dictate his life. These are called as root patterns. Root patterns are the blueprints of life.
The science behind root patterns has been proven beyond doubt by extensive research in the field of prenatal psychology. The mechanism by which the root patterns get formed is known as “limbic imprinting”. The imprints, i.e. the sensations, emotions and feelings experienced at the time of trauma get recorded in the part of the nervous system called the Limbic system.
Limbic system is a set of brain structures that forms the innermost cortex, which is responsible for emotions, behavior, motivation, long term memory and sense of smell. The limbic lobe develops much earlier than the outer layers of the cortex referred to as the neocortex, which is responsible for higher mental functions like logical analysis, conscious thought, spatial reasoning, calculations, planning, language etc. Interestingly, this means that emotions are getting recorded at a stage when even language/logic have not developed in the child!
By definition, an experience is traumatic when a particular event, or series of events, comes to define the way people organize their subsequent perceptions. The imprint of any trauma happens in this part of the brain, which is actually subcortical in nature. During gestation, birth and early childhood, the limbic system registers all of our sensations and feelings. These memories live in the body through the rest of our lives whether we know it as root patterns or not. The experience of an identity is nothing but the root patterns formed in early childhood, which lead to a skewed cognition and understanding of life and one’s own self.
These early experiences of life get so deeply etched in the limbic system, that in the future, as adults, people unconsciously recreate the conditions that were imprinted at birth and through early childhood. Later on in life, even if the rational mind (neocortex) recognizes this as a pattern, since the imprinting had occurred in the part of the brain (limbic lobe) which doesn’t have the skill to stop the pattern, people continue to act out of root patterns.
The phenomenon of limbic imprinting is not unique to humans. It has been used for years to train animals to serve people. For example, a baby elephant staked to a small wooden pole pulls with all his might to release himself, but when he repeatedly fails in his efforts, he stops. Even when he grows up and has enough strength to free himself – it doesn’t happen because he never tries! As a baby, when he failed in his attempts, he formed the cognition that “I am a failure”, “This task is impossible for me!” As mammals, human beings also have the same design in their nervous systems.
These imprints or root patterns continue to dictate the lives of people, until such time that they are able to identify them and complete with them. The process of completion with oneself is called *svapoornatva kriya, and consists of intensely reliving the past incidents and releasing the pain and suffering. By remembering the incident vividly and going through every emotion once again, the same part of the brain gets activated where the limbic imprint had occurred and this allows the healing to take place. Various cathartic techniques can also be used to help the process of healing. As more and more healing happens, even suppressed memories can be recalled and healed. Once the pain associated with the memories is released, the wrong cognition which happened at that time also becomes apparent and one is able to identify his or her root patterns. The blueprint with which the person has been living his or her life so far becomes apparent and can then be changed.