We can't help but measure ourselves, wish things were different, make grand gestures and ultimatum type statements about how we want our lives to be. This time of year it comes as 'resolutions'. We reflect on how things have been going or what has passed and set some goals or dreams for the future. There is good in this. It is important to grow. There's the fact, too, that resolutions are promises broken, more often than not. They are one more thing to beat ourselves up over. We know what it is we need, what we need to change, but are stumped and frustrated and hurt because we don't know how to break out of where we are. Most of the things we've been taught don't actually work very well: try harder, make a list, go on a diet, set up a schedule.
Why is it we want to change so much, but cannot? Why is it we become our own worst enemies? Why is honest change so hard and so rare?
Yoga has very direct answers to these human questions. We can't or haven't changed because we have karma. Karma being our habits of mind, feeling, and behavior.
We change our karma in recognizing the kleshas, by seeing with clarity where it is that we are stuck. Through persistent practice, meditation and mindfulness, through clarification and purification of body, mind, and relationships we start to hack through the dense dark matter of karma. We begin to see.
There are five kleshas or obstacles, five barriers to the self and to happiness. They are the path, the threshold, both the obstacle and the obstacle's overcoming. They obstruct our lives and our vision. For the next five weeks I'm going to teach each of the kleshas, as well as ways to break through them, as a way toward deeper self knowing and self practice.
Abhinivesha is fear. Fear - or what most of us would recognize as anxiety - determines much of our presence in the world. Seeing fear, knowing it, knowing where anxiety is in our body and how often it's seeping into our thoughts, is a cornerstone of yogic practices.
Opening ourselves up in spite of fear is both the goal and the way to the goal.
Backbends, tonight, as fear mongers and also release of fear.
In upcoming weeks, we'll look at all of the kleshas: abhinivesha (fear or anxiety), asmita (false identity or confusion about who you really are), raga (attachment), dvesha (aversion), and avidya (blindness or ignorancence; not being able to see reality). Avidya is the source of all the other kleshas, the granddaddy of human suffering and confusion. The way to strengthen our resolve, build our character, change our lives and practice yoga is to continually enlighten. To transform. To hack through or blow on or tentatively consider the idea of lifting the veil of our own blindness.