Asmita - The Ego
The Kleshas are the obstacles or hindrances which Patanjali described in his Yoga Sutras. They are often depicted as a tree with Avidya (ignorance) considered the trunk of the tree and the other four Kleshas namely Asmita (ego), Raga (Attraction), Devsha (aversion) and Abhinivesah (fear of death) seen to be the branches of the tree. It is difficult for us to become aware of our own ignorance about reality and Patanjali taught that we can identify more readily with the branches of the tree.
Amista is the identification of ourselves with our ego, with the labels by which we define ourselves. This might be our job, our clothes, the type of music we like, the sport we do. It is anything that causes us to see ourselves as separate and divided from the rest of the world. This separation can present itself as becoming very competitive, wanting to be the best, have the best, believing that we are better than others. Or it can be the opposite of this believing that you are a bad person, that other people are better than us. When we compare ourselves to others be it in our yoga class or in our life in general then our ego causes us pain and suffering. What Patanjali taught us is that when we find ourselves in these situations we need to surrender to the ego, to let go. When we let go of judging ourselves and others, when we are able to be kind and compassionate to ourselves first and then others, when we experience unconditional love, we see the true nature of reality. We are all one, there is no separation between us, no need for competition or comparison.
Consider this week what the ego is wanting you to do, either in your yoga practise or in your daily life. If you can surrender a little, to release some of that push from the ego – does it make you feel a little calmer, quieter or more satisfied?