Relax Past Your Boundaries

What are your boundaries? We all have them, and they are all branches of avidya, or our false perceptions of life and of ourselves. Boundaries limit us from the truth and from our potential. Some of the boundaries we impose upon ourselves are known as asmita, or ego; raga, or attachment; dvesha, or rejection; and abhinivesha, or the survival instinct.

Know Your Sanskrit

Avidya (pronounced ah-VEE-dyah) is the word for incorrect comprehension. The opposite of avidya is vidya (VEE-dyah), correct understanding. Avidya inhibits our perception in many ways—through automatic, learned responses; dependency on habits; and negative self-talk. Avidya is like a cloud in front of the sun. Learning to recognize avidya and dispel it is one of the goals of yoga. Asmita (ah-SMEE-tah) is the ego, raga (RAH-gah) is attachment, and dvesha (DVEH-shah) is rejection.

Ego is a boundary difficult for most Westerners to avoid. Your ego is what gives you a sense of who you are to the world. To say, "I am the smartest one in this class," is ego. To say, "I have to win this game," is ego. To say, "I am beautiful," or "I am right," or even "I am good at my job," is ego. To most Westerners, some expression of ego seems natural and even productive. Why not be proud of what you do, how you look, or what you've accomplished? You certainly should be proud of who you are. But asmita means being proud of the wrong things—the things that limit you, such as material possessions, physical appearance, beating out someone, or being the best, which implies you're better than others.

Deep inside, you're a jewel. You're a beautiful soul that's part of a beautiful universe. Getting caught up in the petty and nonlasting aspects of life can only hold you back from your true potential. Maybe you still think you have to be competitive to "win," but yoga can help you to see winning in a new, more fulfilling light.

Attachment is related to ego and involves desire. Do you know what it's like to want a cookie or a piece of cake, not because you're truly hungry but just because you want the pleasure? The desire for pleasure can overcome you, and you can be fiercely single-minded until you get what you want. If you've experienced this feeling, then you know what raga is. Attachment also involves material possessions—that sort of "fever" you get when you see something you really want. It can consume your entire mind—the desire for that new dress, stereo system, or hot red sports car. Attachment to any material possessions, sensual sensations, addictions, desires, or even an obsessive attachment to another person is a boundary that holds you back from truth and the true knowledge of yourself. Attachment gets in the way of who you really are.

Rejection is like the opposite of attachment and is called dvesha. Your spouse left you, so you refuse to get involved in a relationship again. You were thrown from a horse, so you refuse to ride. You were in a car accident, so you vow never to drive another car. All these are dvesha. Rejecting experiences, people, or thoughts that have caused you pain in the past blocks you from the future. But dvesha needn't be so drastic, and we all experience it. You refuse to try okra because you think it will taste unpleasant. You don't go to a party because you know the social interactions will be stressful and you just don't have the energy. This isn't to say that you can't make the decision not to do certain things, but when you reject things out of a fear of discomfort, pain, or inconvenience, rather than rejecting things simply because you don't want or need them, then dvesha has become a stumbling block in your life.

The final obstacle is the survival instinct, or abhinivesha. This instinct may seem to be a positive one at first, but it is actually a stumbling block between you and enlightenment. This intense desire to remain alive is related to the fear of death (although they aren't the same). You probably want to remain you. You may fear death, but you also enjoy your life (for the most part) and so fear any kind of change in your existence. Enlightenment, involving release from the material world and tangible existence, is both mysterious and scary. Does enlightenment mean that life as we know it will cease? We are animals, after all. Our instincts are for self-preservation. Moving beyond our instinctual natures into our spiritual selves isn't easy.

"Heart breathing" is a technique that can be very renewing. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Notice your breathing, but don't try to control it. Feel your chest expanding and contracting. Now imagine the breath is flowing out of your heart with each exhalation and pouring into your heart with each inhalation. Don't think about anything. Just feel the breath flowing in and out of your heart. Imagine the breath is pure love. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes, then slowly open your eyes, get up, and move on. Remember the feeling throughout your day. Then do it again tomorrow!

"Heart breathing" is a technique that can be very renewing. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Notice your breathing, but don't try to control it. Feel your chest expanding and contracting. Now imagine the breath is flowing out of your heart with each exhalation and pouring into your heart with each inhalation. Don't think about anything. Just feel the breath flowing in and out of your heart. Imagine the breath is pure love. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes, then slowly open your eyes, get up, and move on. Remember the feeling throughout your day. Then do it again tomorrow!

Yoga helps dispel abhinivesha (the survival instinct), as well as the other aspects of avidya (incorrect comprehension) that cloud our perception and inhibit our growth. Sure, you'll probably always have occasional bouts of ego, attachment, rejection, and the instinct to cling to your material existence. You are only human—and not only human, but deeply, magnificently human. Through yoga, you can become even more deeply connected to your true humanity. You can learn to recognize your incorrect comprehension for what it is, then you can blow out the incarnations of your incorrect comprehension like matches. No more delusions!

Yoga helps you relax, think more clearly, and see the inner you that is a part of the universe and all that is good. Yoga helps reveal avidya for the impostor it is. And if you can perceive the stumbling blocks in your path clearly and without doubt, you can confidently step around them.

Abhinivesha (ah-bhee-nee-VEH-shah) is the survival instinct or thirst for life. It is the desire to exist and so becomes an obstacle toward enlightenment, which is existence but beyond the personal existence to which unenlightened individuals cling.
The Chakra Checklist

The Chakra Checklist

The chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the back to the top of the head. New Age practices frequently associate each chakra with a particular color.

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Responses

  • tommy
    How to pronounce dvesha?
    7 years ago

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