What’s That Klesha I Always Forget? Oh Yeah, Fear of Death.

Via on May 5, 2011

There are some yogasana poses that seem to be universally disliked.

Compass pose is one such pose, almost certain to elicit is-she-kidding eye rolls and half-hearted can’t-wait-til-this-one’s-done attempts.

In a recent class, I used the practitioners’ obvious displeasure at compass pose to talk about two of the causes of suffering according to yoga philosophy (kleshas): attachment to pleasure (raga) and aversion to the unpleasant (dvesha).

After class, one of the students asked about the other kleshas. Being the #yogadork that I am, I love the interest and enthusiasm that accompany these kinds of questions.

Avidya, ignorance of our true selves, and identification with the ego (asmita),” I rattled off without skipping a beat. “Avidya, asmita, raga, dvesha…what’s the other one? I know that I know it…”

But my mind went blank.

“Must be the one I have a problem with,” I joked.

Abhinivesha: fear of death.

This morning I woke up with a general feeling of malaise. It was different than waking up on the wrong side of the bed or having something to feel sad about. It was more like the weight of the world felt especially heavy today.

So what did I do? I started rearranging furniture.

Time for a change? Maybe.

Coping mechanism? Probably.

Hours of sorting and cleaning and moving went by. I took a break to do my yoga practice. One of the many things I love about yogasana – whether I’m teaching or practicing – is how it helps me to be aware and to be present. There’s no rearranging of furniture, physical or otherwise.

Later in the day, a phone call from a person close to me brought good news and the realization that what was really bothering me was my fear of loss. I can’t say that it’s resolved, of course, but acknowledging the source of my suffering is comforting in a way.

Maybe that’s just the first step.

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About Lindsay Jean Thomson

Lindsay Jean Thomson is a San Francisco-based vinyasa flow yoga teacher. She teaches at International Orange and is the co-founder of Flex Hour Yoga.

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7 Responses to “What’s That Klesha I Always Forget? Oh Yeah, Fear of Death.”

  1. Hi, Lindsay. Engaging blog. I took the liberty of spicing up the title. Let me know if you don't like it and I'll change it back.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

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  4. [...] regarding asana (the postures), quite a few regarding pranayama (breath-control practices) and the klesha (afflictions, or root-causes of suffering) [...]

  5. [...] a yogic sense, raga is an attachment to material goods, relationships or [...]

  6. [...] I wanted to see what was truly going on, beyond ignorance or avidya. (The first klesha). [...]

  7. [...] the Buddhist teachings, the messy stuff is called klesha, which means [...]

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