My Experience: The 5 Kleshas

my experience Jan 14, 2020

In the philosophy of yoga, there are five kleshas: avidya (ignorance), asmita (over-identifying with your ego), raga (desire, or attachment to pleasure), dvesha (avoidance), and abhinivesha (attachment and fear).

Each one representing a different form of human suffering and toxicity. Each one clouding the mind and manifesting negativity. The idea is to transcend these five obstacles through yoga and meditation.

Asmita (egoism) and abhinivesha (attachment) have been the two kleshas I have struggled with most in my life. Both of these challenges have disguised themselves in different forms throughout my growth. I am very aware of them and have worked them into much smaller demons than they were originally.

As a child, abhinivesha gripped me hard onto the fear of losing my parents. I had such extreme separation anxiety, I couldn’t sleep at a friend’s house or even have peace of mind when my mom and dad were out late. As I grew into my early teenage years, I transferred all that abhinivesha onto my first boyfriend. I was so attached to him and our relationship that I became disillusioned by nearly everything around me. I completely isolated myself.

After that deeply turbulent, passionate young relationship, I decided to go full-fledged into healing myself. I disciplined myself to never attach to a person or a thing like this ever again. Fear of losing the ones I loved most had led me straight into a trap of anxiety.

Asmita (egoism) is a samskara (pattern) in my family that I believe has tricked down from my father's lineage. A pack of strong-minded, life-loving extroverts - each member with a special sense of charisma. Since before I was born, my dad has strived to shed his association with his early childhood life. His upbringing by an alcoholic father who had a shell of a career as a pro-boxer filled him with instability and shame. The turbulence and humiliation pushed him to desire something bigger than life and to achieve that something he became a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

Growing up, people often associated me with my dad and his career. I was feebly identified as “his daughter.” At times in my youth, I didn’t know the difference: this is all everyone told me I was, so this is all I must be. As I grew older, I had shameful moments of ego, where I even basked in this light people shed on me, as I was too afraid to step into my own light - nor even knew what it looked like.

It's taken time, awakening and effort, but I have found my own sense of identity. I have gone my own way and don’t fall into the trap of asmita - using my family “identity” to identify myself. Year after year, it gets easier to let go of it and my awareness of who people think I am or should be. My ego will always be in training (as all of ours are) and I am learning to be gentle and loving with it in its most insecure times.

Through my work on asmita, my intention is to be set free, and in turn, set my father and our entire lineage free as well.


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