The Obstacles We Create

It started out as a typical conversation with my son during a drive in the car back to school, and I have to admit it was filled with the mundane moments of motherhood, homework, chores, responsibilities, etc. and at some point I pushed a button and there was a powerful response from his side. Yeah, this one bottles it all up and then when it is time, he explodes.

After taking a deep breath we took the conversation in a different direction and navigated him through the five Kleshas, essentially the obstacles to our ability to find bliss. With a little coaxing we were able to get to the heart of the matter and he had noticeably relaxed and was no longer spitting fire. But here is the funny thing, by sharing this with him I had inadvertently found exactly what I needed to help guide myself through an obstacle that has been blocking my path for months.

Although it is not at all uncommon to become tense, to feel anger or resentment, hate or self-loathing, any host of negative connections to a situation, our society is not commonly taught how to address the process of healing . By working though the process of self-study (svadhyaya) to begin to unravel the root cause of the affliction  we can turn to  Patanjali's Yoga Sutras II.3-9 to explore that which binds us to help unravel the knots, those pesky samskaras.

avidyasmita-raga-dvesabhinivesah Klesah: Ignorance, egoism, attachment, hatred, and clinging to bodily life are the five obstacles.
— Patanjali Sutra II.3

If you are ready to explore some situation in you current life, or even something that has been with you for years, consider trying this exercise:

  1. Pull out your journal or simply a piece of paper and your favorite writing implement.
  2. Set up a header and begin with Avidya, ask yourself "how is ignorance blocking my path"? 
  3. Asmita is a tough one, chances are Avidya and Asmita are having a pity party but it is time to send them home! "How is my ego playing a role in my suffering?".
  4. Raga is easy, you ARE attached to something, some sort of outcome, part of the process, and yes that cup of coffee. "What part of this obstacle is built from attachment?". 
  5. Similar to Raga, how we avoid something which brings us pain, Dvesha asks us to question aversion in the situation at hand: "what/who/how/why am I avoiding some part of this situation?"
  6. Abhinivesha is translated as "clinging to life", sometimes read as "fear of death" but could be generalized as any and all fear being experienced though the situation. Fear is the demon of the root chakra, so dig deep with this one, however, make sure you have grounded yourself before exploring in any depth. "Do I fear my death or that of a loved one?" or "How is my personal fear of (whatever) playing a role in this situation"?
  7. Continue to write! Surrender to the process and you might be surprised what comes out.
  8. Continue to question, each of the Kleshas may lead you through a thought process that helps you to find your way.
  9. Consider finding a friend, someone you deeply trust, to share your discoveries.
  10. Allow the process to be your energy discharge, let this release be what you need to break through whatever barriers you have created.

Give yourself permission to release, to heal, mind, body and spirit! ~ Namaste