by Kishore Sanjeeva Hegde,
MSBVE certified Naturotherapist
Yoga is being practiced for developing harmony of mind, body and soul. Yoga is called way of life. Most people relate yoga only to Asanas. However, Asanas are one the eight limbs of Astanga Yoga as per Yoga Sutra of Maharshi Patanjali. The eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Dharana, Dyaana and Samadhi. Yoga not only helps to attain wellbeing but also helps in happiness.
As a happiness coach and Yoga and Naturotherapist, I am excited to present connection between Yogic principles and happiness.
Maharshi Patanjali, founder or Yoga Sutras defines causes of pains in simple lines in Yoga Sutra as “Avidya-Asmita-raga-dvesa-abhinivesah klesah”, which means the lack of knowlegde, ego, attachments and material aversion and fear of loss are prime cause of all miseries in life.
One of the objectives of Yoga is to reduce these Kleshas or causes of suffering to have healthy mind. These Panchakleshas are barrier for happiness. Unless the mind is cleared from these kleshas blissfulness cannot be attained. Let us understand these Kleshas better.
- Avidya of ignorance is literally known as “incorrect comprehension” which is the base of our ill-habits, for example, unjustified angry reactions, dependencies to addictions. Ignorance deeply rooted in our mind and makes improvement difficult. The spiritual masters who have uprooted Avidya see the things as they are. There are three methods for uprooting Avidya. First is to Practice Asanas and Pranayamas which is simple yet effective for gaining physical and mental benefits. It diminishes force of Avidya. Second method is to practice self-awareness. Regular self-examination of our actions and habitual thought patterns will awaken us to take increasing responsibility for our lives. Meditation is one excellent method that can help. We become increasingly conscious and responsible, instead of remaining creatures of habit. The third method is to create a certain detachment to the actions of our life, and almost become an external observer. Rather than being an active participant, taking our hopes and dreams terribly seriously, we become more like an actor in a play, playing the part the best we can. This form of spiritual detachment does not mean we under-perform in life in any way. It merely means that we become more detached and objective about the movement of our lives; less elated when things go right and less distraught when disaster occurs. In this way the ego, and indeed all aspects of Avidya, are progressively weakened. In truth, all three methods work best together. However, one or other approach can prove immensely beneficial. For most of us, Avidya will remain to some extent throughout our lives. We relate to others better, make better decisions, and the hold of ignorance upon our lives gradually diminishes. We become Happier.
- Asmita or Ego, is first branch of Avidya, which seeks own interest. The force of ego that prevents you from touching base with your natural vibration of wholeness. The ego structure is necessary for physical purposes, and has a practical value in the brain, and it will always be there. What’s required is to dissolve its force in you so that you are not a prisoner to the ego. Are you aware enough to realize that the ego is never going to be happy for long? Are you still holding onto some deluded imagination that one day you will attract some desired reality that will make the ego happy forever? If so, it just means you’ve not seen physical reality clearly enough, and rest assured, as awareness grows, you soon will. The ego structure of the brain is created through “addition” of identities, life-story, memories, achievements, possessions and beliefs. Since the ego is always trying to add to itself, it never feels complete – it never feels stable, it’s always changing, sometimes it feels diminished, sometimes it feels important, sometimes it feels worthless, sometimes it feels like a winner, sometimes it feels like a loser. Hence, intrinsically, the ego is unhappy most of the time, and even its happiness is just unhappiness waiting to happen – have you noticed how your ego’s excitement turns into depression given sometime? People who live purely identified with the ego are extremely unstable, unpredictable, shallow, moody and agitated. Also, since the ego is a lack-based construct, and if you are totally identified with it, you naturally attract a lack based reality all the time. You basically have two options in the way you live your life You can live a life dedicated to constantly making the ego structure feel good, suffering every time the ego feels bad and being afraid of life because the ego feels so vulnerable.You can let go of the ego, and live freely in the flow of your life-stream, living your natural expression. Any reasonable person would take the second choice. When I say let go of the ego, I don’t mean “get rid” of the ego, I just mean let go of fuelling it. Let the brain have its ego structure, you don’t have to be lost in identification with it, just let it be and it won’t have any negative influence on your being. How long does it take to realize the dysfunction of living identified with the ego? For someone who develops a strong awareness, it just takes a couple of weeks to see through this dysfunctional way of living. However, people with a low level of awareness have no choice but to live identified with the ego because there is no space within them to “watch” its dysfunctional movement. The ego has a way of attaching itself to everything, including the inherent desires that arise in you as your natural expression. It attaches itself to these desires and starts feeling impatient about not having them already. It starts craving and feeling needy of the desired reality, and starts living in a delusion that it will feel whole only when the desired reality manifests. This very thinking becomes a huge resistance to allowing the manifestation of the desired reality, and hence increases the sense of lack in the ego, which just makes it more needy and desperate. It’s a cycle of lack and neediness that starts perpetuating, attracting highly negative realities instead of allowing the desired reality that was the natural expression of this physical expression that you are. It’s easy to see that the ego does not really fit in with life’s vibration, the ego has a vibration of lack/negativity whereas life has a vibration of wholeness/joy. So, the vibration of ego does not match the vibration of life, and hence they are always at odds – however, which do you think is the bigger force? If you support the force of ego, you can get opposed to pull of life, and it’s not the long before you start feeling the suffering of this disconnection. If you stop fuelling it (or repairing it), the force of ego will get deconstructed quite easily. 99% of your suffering is psychological, and it’s purely created by the force of your ego. It’s your choice if you want to continue fuelling this source suffering, or if you are willing to let it dissolve. When the ego loses its hold on your being, you feel free, you are no longer living in a prison of the ego’s fears and insecurities. All it takes is for you to let the ego dissolve in force by not trying to repair it, allow its force to keep getting deconstructed until it no longer has a pull on your being. You will realize your happiness, wholeness, your true vibration, when you are no longer lost in the narrow pull of the ego. Because of Asmita, we create the next two kleshas (obstacles to our happiness): Raga (excessive attachment) and Dvesa (excessive aversion).
- Raga or excessive attachment, second branch of Avidya, wants what it does not have. Seek without needing it. It makes us unsatisfied and contiguously compares ourselves unfavourably with others. Even if we have wealth we are unhappy because someone else is wealthier. We are tied down and locked in the prison of our own minds. When something brings us pleasure, our brain wants to repeat that experience over and over. We then expect the things that bring us moments of pleasure (over and over), to make us happy! The possession of objects (eg. your phone) can become very important to us, even indispensable, whatever the cost. This may result in future unhappiness. Perhaps intellectually we know that seeking happiness outside ourselves doesn’t work, but that doesn’t stop us from acting as if it did…. How many of us can honestly say that we live without raga in our lives? To overcome Raga we should develop the habit of gratitude, compassion. Count the blessings daily to eliminate attachment.
- Dvesa or excessive Aversion, is the third branch, which makes us reject people and situations. When something displeases or distresses us, this can lead to aversion or hate. To overcome dvesa develop habit of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean tolerance to errors but patient encouragement of growth. Eliminate Dvesa, to improve connectedness and sustain relationship and for your own happiness. Develop empathy to remove Aversion.
- Abhinivesah or fear of loss, is forth branch of Avidya, fear not caused because of experience like fear of change, growing old or fear of losing everything we earned with hard work. When we farewell a loved one who is travelling, we often say “be safe!” as we deep down feel afraid of losing them. So how do we overcome Abhinevesa?
- Live in the present moment – enjoy the HERE and the NOW! Be mindful, have focus mindset. Mindfulness is non-judgemental awareness of present moment.
- Remember that everything is as it should be
- Accept that the life we are living is a sacred gift
Apply these simple formulas in life, avoid Panchakleshas to enhance happiness and live life fullest.