Kleshas are fear based, mental-emotional afflictions that cause persistent distress, pain and suffering. The first Klesha is Avidya, which is our blind spots, our lack of awareness or misapprehension in what we are seeing. Asmita is the second Klesha meaning egotism, the “I – AM – Ness” of the ego falsely identifying by its distorted sense of self seen through Avidya.
It is said that the ego is at the centre of your personality. Without the sense of self, life would be unliveable. We need a healthy ego to live and function. It gives us perspective on experiences and coordinates many daily functions. “I” need to eat, sleep, work, etc. Ego mediates between the consciousness and unconsciousness relearning the internal and external worlds, and the personal and social relationships.
The mental aspect of the ego, according to the Yoga Sutras is called the Ahamkara “I-maker.” I am Zephyr, I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a Yoga Teacher. I am the main character in my story. Now how I write the story depends on my core belief of myself. I am my name, I am the worst or best mother, wife, yoga teacher. Thinking more or less of who I think I am and misidentifying by my label.
Asmita makes us think we are the limited self, reducing us to our bodies, life experiences, thoughts and emotions. We are what we look like, what we can or can’t do, what we like or don’t like. By our labels such as our name, status, reputation, occupation, accomplishments and failures. That is who we are. This breeds separateness of “myself and OTHERS” and “compare and despair” that grows seeds of self-doubt, insecurity, defensiveness, hypersensitivity, arrogance and intolerance. Reinforcing fear based core beliefs that we are NOT ENOUGH as we are, loveable, smart, capable, successful, flexible, strong, worthy, valuable…enough. Pulling one into a downward shame, guilt and fear spiral.
This distorted unhealthy self then craves attention! It is its nectar. It places itself at the centre of the Universe, the main character in its own story and it loves attention, to win, to have fame and power anything to validate its self-importance. The unhealthy ego displaying behaviour that is ego-centric, self-centred, narcissistic in arrogance, pride, superiority and narrow view point to continue reinforcing the story of ME, MINE and I.
A healthy ego feels content, not threatened by change, secure in fundamental needs being met, is open, curious, able to listen, to be considerate, compassionate and kind. The ego is very powerful and recognising what is motivating the ego is key to practice.
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