By: Suzanne Scholten
The kleshas, or the five afflictions of the mind, are a starting point to understand why our mind has certain samskaras (habits) or vasanas (deeper colorings), which we have been studying in the past few months. As we examine our characteristics of how we see the world, we ask ourselves why, and Patanjali assists us in understanding: “The objective of yoga is to induce Samadhi and attenuate the afflictions,” -sutra 2.2 of ‘The Yoga Sutras of Pantajali.’ He gives clarity to the afflictions we, as humans, have in sutras 2.3-2.13-
The five afflictions are: ignorance (avidya), false sense of self-identity (asmita), attachment (raga), aversion (dvesha), fear of death (abhinivesha).
We will start with Abhinivesha, fear. This is something that we see in our daily lives. I hear almost every day someone saying, “Oh, I know, change is hard.” Just recently in the studio there were two long-time teachers who left and it seemed that this comment was our studio mantra. Change is difficult because of how we react and view it. Avidya, or ignorance, is the base of every affliction, and so when there is change due to our lack of ability to see the truth, change seems scary and bad. But when one can surrender to the change and let it take its natural course and yet still work with it, one may begin to see how the change may blossom into something amazing that was not even in the forethought.
In Orange City, Iowa every May there is a tulip festival—one of the most beautiful times of year in Iowa. Growing up, I thought my mother and all our neighbors were magicians, as the concept of planting a round, brown, hard ball in the ground during the fall and having it blossom in the spring was like magic to my young eyes. But the past few years, I planted tulips in the fall and they came up beautifully in the spring. The first year, I was skeptical so I only bought 20 bulbs. I was fearful that I did not have the right soil, light or the correct amount of water, but sure enough in May there were my 17 beautiful tulips (3 I think were eaten by squirrels).
The change of a tulip is wonderful, nothing to be afraid of, but when the changes are greater such as the loss of a job, a yoga teacher, a house, or one’s health, it can feel daunting. As we experience a change, this is our practice; to study how we feel physically and mentally, and then how to digest it and keep our vital energy (prana) in order to continue reaching for the goal of Samadhi. Start with small changes and give yourself time to observe and study how you react in your daily life. Your daily life will become a yoga practice in motion.