A weird and wonderful paradox we have is the gift of a conscious mind that wants to escape itself and find itself at the same time. Yoga provides tools to skilfully manage the unmanageability of being human, yet guides us with more meaning, fulfilling a greater purpose of embodiment. In our practice of Yoga we come across obstacles that stir up negative thinking, emotional distress, instability and disturbances in the breath that mirror the mind – YS 1.31. These are the symptoms that the Kleshas are present.
We have worked with the first Klesha Avidya-Ignorance and then the second Klesha Asmita-Egotism. Now we are focusing on the third Klesha which is Raga; the attachment to chasing, clinging, grasping, dwelling, yearning and holding on to previously experienced PLEASURES.
Reflect on what pleasures you’ve experienced that you would like to enjoy again. Travel, gardening, going out to dinner, a drink at the pub, socialising, sex, laughing with friends, shopping, celebrating a success, being in the flow of creativity? What are some of the other worldly experiences you want to have again? It is a natural response to seek out what brings us pleasure. We all have desires. That is the blessing about being human. When born, we have the desire to feed, crawl, walk, learn, experience, grow, have sex, be in relationship, enjoy a well lived life. Bhoga is a term describing how we enjoy, indulge and consume the worldly delights or desires of life.
As we practice Yoga are aim is to fulfil our Vedic goals of life, these are the Purusarthas; Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.
- Dharma: Your duties, responsibilities, virtues and purpose
- Artha: Means and tools to support your purpose
- Kama: Pleasure, worldly delights, relationships, creativity, ascetic beauty
- Moksha: Spiritual liberation, freedom, trust and faith
Desire is fine, just as long as we are not attached to the outcome. If there is attachment to the outcome the Klesha Raga of desiring the things creates a mental, emotional suffering as we don’t want the pleasure to end or change. Even worse; if it is absent, we want more of it, creating attachment.
Raga means colouring. So we can liken it to a stain or distortion, Avidya, on the lens of the mind, body, heart. Raga seduces the EGO in the sensory and emotional attachment to worldly pleasures such as “I like” “I want” “I need”. This creates the illusion that happiness will be attained if it is fulfilled. If the desire is not fulfilled then the experience of suffering arises, we feel disappointment, let down from the expectation that, what brings you pleasure will FIX or SOLVE that void, pain or dis-ease felt. The reality is hard to swallow as pleasure can never cure pain as it all is impermanent. Raga or attachment gets triggered when we think we won’t be able to experience certain pleasures again, so begins the craving.
We form routines to seek out pleasure, that becomes a habit. We receive a reward hormone called Dopamine, when we preform routines, habits and act impulsively. The amygdala is the feeling part of the brain and reacts to any stressors, unpleasant or undesirable thoughts, feelings or actions or even just boredom. Our brain seeks out pleasurable experiences to protect and preserve our existence. The brain will seek out dopamine to comfort, sooth and numb the distress, pain or suffering – EVEN IF it is TEMPORARY. Creating PLEASURE JUNKIES. (check out my blog on this topic)
In this practice I am going to ask you to rest your eyes at one point, this is called Dirsti. Notice when the eyes wander, what are you chasing, craving, yearning for? We will use the Mantra – SO HUM “I am That” Consciousness witnessing this pull to crave, chase and attach to find a more pleasurable point. First step is to dissolve Avidya and become Self-Aware. Second step is to notice as you Self-Study Sva Dhyaya,
What do you crave? Food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, gaming, social media followers, validation, attention, exercise highs?
Why do you crave it? What is going on in this moment that draws you to that which you are craving? Upsetting Memories, Distressing Emotions, Negative Thoughts or just the habit you act out on when bored?
How is your behaviour affected by what you crave? Irritable, intolerant, impatient, judgemental, critical, selfish, or disassociated.
In the Gita it said that unfulfilled desire of Raga turns into anger which leads to ignorance/Avidya.
Can you delay gratification? Notice if you do delay gratification, see how our Ego/Asmita reduces you to the attachment to the story or commentary. How is your attachment to what you crave colouring how you perceive the present moment, thoughts, choice of words you think, behaviour, emotions that arise, your movement in class?
Patanjali suggests practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness that prepare us for the state of Yoga.
- Viveka – Keen discernment, wise judgements, clear perception
- Abhyasa – focused diligent practice, devoted and disciplined in the pursuit of practice
- Vairagya – detachment with love from what arises in the field of sensory perception, indifference to sensory awareness
This just takes practice to have the ability to pause, see and let go of sensory observation of what pulls you in to chasing what brings you pleasure.
Remember to form an intention for your practice. Notice the 4 Symptoms of Suffering YS 1.31 and sit with the burning ache and watching it. Direct it into your practice and remember your intention. What do we really Desire? What would create more meaningful connection? Lasting fulfilment? Free you from the pain and suffering that you are experiencing?