What is holding you back from your true potential of sustained peace? We have looked at the aim of yoga and the path of yoga; Sutra 2.3 lists the five obstacles (the Kleshas) that stand in the way of ultimate freedom (Samadhi). Which is your main hindrance?

2.3 Avidya asmita raga dvesha abhinivesha pancha klesha

There are five obstacles (on the path to Samadhi): ignorance, ego, desire, aversion, fear of death.

Avidya / Ignorance: Patanjali tells us that this is the root of all the other Kleshas. It is not ignorance in an intellectual capacity but in the sense that we are oblivious of our true nature. That we have forgotten or masked our spiritual essence. Once on the path of yoga we start to realise that the centre of our being is not our mind, that there is some other spark, soul or spirit at our core. Having a sense of this is the start of the journey towards genuine connectedness to our true nature… The other four Kleshas all steam from Avidya.

Asmita / Ego: Again, the Sanskrit translation is confusing as this is not the ‘ego’ in the western / Freudian sense but is a far broader concept. It is a false sense of self, the identification with ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘mine’. It is the feeling that we are separate from each other, from nature and from the interconnectedness that surely underpins consciousness. You may have experienced moments when this has fallen away, watching a sunset, surfing, playing with children or chanting in a group. Treasure these!

Raga / Desire: This is probably the Klesha that is most obvious in many people! We all battle with wanting, craving, coveting and in some cases addiction. While a desire for spiritual growth is necessary to progress on the path this should be cultivated without attachment to the outcome. It is the craving for material possessions, the drive for power and ambitions and the clinging to feelings, people and situations that are the obstacle we need to overcome on the road to freedom. You could start with just one thing. Identify a Raga you would like to overcome and when it arises just sit with it, acknowledge it and let it go.

Dvesha / Aversion: The opposite of Raga, this is when we push away from people, places and things. Aversion can colour our whole day. In fact it can be an interesting exercise to count how many times in a day you experience irritation, dislike or anger. The next step would be to either change the situation or change your attitude to one of acceptance.

Abhinivesha / Fear of Death: This can also be translated as a clinging to life but in a wider context we could say it is fear of loss or change. This obstacle is overcome by cultivating awareness that everything is transient and impermanent and from there developing a deep sense of trust.