Last month we explored the expression of our Truth (not the ego “truth” but rather our true self - “Truth”). Were you able to observe when you were acting in accordance with your Truth and when you found yourself being dishonest with yourself or with others? It is difficult to express ourselves authentically especially when we feel pressure to take care of or please others, whether it's close friends, family, or co-workers. By communicating clearly and skillfully, with kindness and respect we release the expectations we feel others have for us, and those they actually hold, which are not always the same.
Speaking and communicating on the basis of our Truth leads to trust, and trust leads to intimacy. In order to trust and be intimate, we must first trust and be intimate with ourselves. We are all aware of our own flaws, weaknesses and doubts whether we choose to acknowledge them or not, and because we know this in ourselves, we can see it in each other. Many times we see in others our flaws before we admit they exist in ourselves. This creates a lack of trust in others because we know they are human just like us and capable of doing wrong, or doing harm.
Because we see weakness in ourselves, we see weakness in others. These weaknesses create distrust. Using this basis one could say we distrust others because first we distrust ourselves. So how do we build a self trust?
Yoga suggests that to come into union with yourself 5 obstacles stand in your way. The 5 Kleshas are obstacles, or afflictions of the mind, that hold us back from seeing the true nature of our being.
Ignorance (Avidya) Ego (Asmita)
Attachment to Pleasure (Raga)
Aversion to Pain (Dvesa)
Fear of Death (Abhinivesah)
Ignorance (avidya) can be anything from: allowing ourselves to develop feelings about a situation based on a false belief, to becoming so focused on a single aspect of a person or situation that we blind ourselves to the many other elements that are present, or focusing on pleasure to the extent of overlooking potential unpleasant consequences, and of course mistaking the ego for who we really are. This klesha is the foundation for all of the others and once unlocked the others will follow. Self knowledge is the key to overcoming avidya and meditation is a powerful tool for this exploration.
The ego (asmita) is a distorted view of ourselves which limits our interactions as well as our potential. We create labels for ourselves and others which distorts our view of the world and the realization of our true self. However, the ego is not all negative, in contrast, the positive role of ego is svadharma, or “self-nature.” Svadharma refers to our own specific character and temperament, which is invaluable. This aspect of ego leads to connection rather than alienation. By embracing our gifts, we are able to give without attachment, and by accepting the gifts of those around us (including those we might judge negatively when coming from a place of ego), we are able to accept help without guilt. In short, through svadharma, we learn to transform ego from a place of competition and fear into a means for connection and love.
Yin Yoga allows us to focus on overcoming Attachment to Pleasure (raga) and Aversion to Pain (dvesa). When we hold the postures for extended periods of time, inevitably, discomfort arises. We resolve to stay put and simply observe as the aversion comes and then eventually we can let it go. It goes away only to be replaced by some new adversion, and we repeat the process of letting go. When we finally release the pose we are flooded with pleasant sensations. The joy of coming out of a yin pose can create attachment where we want to linger in this wonderful feeling of release. But, we again simply observe the pleasure, without reacting, and move to the next pose.
The final klesha is the most difficult to overcome: abhinivesah. This is the clinging to life. Even the most advanced yogis may fail to let go of this last affliction. The 8 Limbs of Yoga give us a path to enlightenment that will guide us in overcoming fear of death.
Overcoming these afflictions is no easy task. For most of us our busy lives are not easily intersected with hours upon hours of sitting in meditation contemplating these concepts. Still we all practice yoga and therefore somewhere within us is a desire to improve or change our relationships with ourselves and with others. Trust and intimacy are key components to this end and by thoughtfully observing at our daily practices, conversations, actions, and thoughts one by one awareness will build over time and will lead to truly trusting in ourselves and then in others.
Vajrapradama Mudra Vajrapradama mudra is a yoga hand gesture believed to build trust and self-confidence. It is one of many hasta (hand) mudras designed to have a positive effect on physical and mental/emotional health. The term comes from the Sanskrit vajra, meaning “thunderbolt” and mudra, meaning “gesture.” This mudra is typically translated as the “mudra of unshakable self-confidence.” In yoga, a thunderbolt represents powerful and focused energy, and in Buddhism, it is a weapon against doubt. As a result, vajrapradama mudra suggests confidence, trust and faith in the higher Self.
Hasta mudras can be done while seated, prone, standing or even walking, as long as the posture is symmetrical and the body is relaxed. Practicing this mudra in vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) is designed to release hopelessness, mistrust and self-doubt. It is a mudra often practiced during meditation and pranayama.
Vajrapradama mudra is thought to build confidence and trust by bringing energy to the heart center, reminding the practitioner of his/her own inner power. This mudra is perfect for when hardships or negativity encroach on one's life and dealing with them seems overwhelming.
Yin Yoga Yin Yoga has the same goals and objectives as any other school of yoga; however, it directs the stimulation normally created in the asana portion of the practice deeper than the superficial muscular tissues (which we target in vinyasa). Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues, such as the ligaments, bones, and even the joints of the body that are not exercised regularly in a more active style of asana practice. Postures are held for an extended period of time, anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes to get deeper into the connective tissues. When you do finally move out of the pose you may feel stuck, that means you really got in there!!
Review: 8 Limbs of Yoga
1. Yamas - Universal morality
right use of energy
2. Niyamas - Personal discipline
purifying your mind and body
surrender to higher self
3. Asanas Physical practice 4. Pranayama Breathing exercises a
5. Pratyahara Withdrawal of the senses
6. Dharana Concentration 7. Dhyana Meditation
8. Samadhi Bliss