Meditation Monday #37 – How to Meditate: The 5 Kleshas

Ugh! What a weekend! I arrived home….to my house….around 4am and got the minimum 3 hours of sleep before my day started as usual. This is one trip that I’m not all that excited to write about. Instead I’ve decided to leave it in the past and move right back into Meditation Monday!

How is meditation going for you these days? Mine is a little strained. I started thinking about how hard meditation can be for some people. For some it’s the sitting still, for others the quiet, for yet others the being alone with their thoughts that gets them. If you read back to the first four posts on How to Meditate you learn a lot about how easy it can be to start small. But, what happens when we’ve been working at it for awhile and we can’t seem to find the answers we’re seeking?

In the last few segments of this series we’ve talked about the Four Aims of Life, but there’s something that can get in the way of understanding and living your path and that is a Klesha.

Some yogis define Kleshas as spiritual obstacles and others say that Patanjali was refering to all of our pain and suffering when he wrote about the Kleshas. However you choose to view them, they are the things that can keep you from the ultimate goal of yoga meditation practice: Enlightenment.

Today I’m going to give you a “brief” run down of each of the 5 Kleshas.

Which one is standing in your way?

Avidya – The inability to see things for what they really are

Sometimes defined as ignorance, Avidya is the wool pulled over our eyes, looking at the world with rose-colored glasses, bliss. This is the way of living in which life looks one way, but truly is another. People who mistake passion for love, pain for happiness, the impure for the pure. Have you ever been there? Where life seemed like it was headed down one path and that path turned out to be a dangerous cliff? We need to ask the hard questions in life and seek the honest answers because with Avidya our eyes are not open; which clouds the thoughts and the heart.

Asmita – Living in our ego

We all have one….that self-confidence and maybe even a little self-righteousness from time to time. The key is knowing that you (and all the roles that you take on) are only one small part of the bigger picture. Remembering that YOGA means to yoke, join, and unite means deflating our ego and recognizing when we allow judgment of others to take over our thoughts, words, and actions.

Raga – Attachment and Addiction

Liking things is not a problem….the inability to detach from them is. I like to have hot tea in the morning, but it is not of a higher priority for me than my children. I like to live in a house and drive a car, but my motivation to teach is not driven by a desire to make enough money to have a huge house and a lavish car. I do not shop til I drop and purchase items I don’t honestly need. I recognize that certain things can take hold of you and then I let those desires go….I detach from the physical items as well as the emotions that limit me. Holding grudges is a form of attachment that also blocks our path to enlightenment.

Dvesha – Aversion to pain

No one wants to get hurt. No one wants to cry. No one wants to be alone. But allowing these emotions and fears rule the way that we live and connect with others takes us off the yoga path. It is hard sometimes to be challenged and it is hard to suffer, but to feel is to be human. To connect, to love, to lose…..are all to understand.

Abhinivesha – Fear of death

What happens when you die? I’m still not sure at this point. I also can’t tell you that what will happen to you will also happen to me. I feel the presence still around me, occasionally, of those I’ve lost. This may be a figment of my imagination or they may be there to guide me along my way. I do not know for sure. I do know that I’m not planning on dying any time soon. I also know that this Klesha is particularly strong in my life now that I am a mother. I worry that when I am gone that my children will not be taken care of. I worry about who will be there to love them and comfort them and teach them things. These are silly worries because they have a large family of relatives and friends who would do those things. I worry that they will be heartbroken without me. Another silly worry because they will always love me, but they too will die and who will hold the torch for me then? And why should they? These are also selfish worries; they serve only to make me feel better about my role and feed into my ego. My fear of death, personally, does not include the fear of pain. I know that we all have to die someday and somehow and for many of us that will be a painful experience. I am prepared on that end.

In thinking about the Kleshas in total, I can see how meditation can be hard for some individuals. I know it can be for me from day to day when I let these distractions get in the way of me listening to myself and to the universe instead of judging and expecting and fearing. Think about your own practice….

What blocks you from great meditation?


3 thoughts on “Meditation Monday #37 – How to Meditate: The 5 Kleshas

  1. It’s harder to meditate when we need it the most..!
    Exams dry you out. My experience is that breathing and meditation are the key for nurture your mind, soul and body. I really need them to keep me going and accomplish the tasks of life
    If imposible to sit 20 minutes at the same time, try to meditate with activities like swimming, walking, or even driving!
    Life is a breath…


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