I am returned from a weekend of Yoga and laughter and healthy food with a little more knowledge about The Kleshas thanks to my Yoga teacher Amy Bramble. This is now the fourth time I have left my brood to indulge in a weekend of self-care; which I might add was very much needed. After rushing around like a headless chicken for the ten days prior I had actually managed to send myself dizzy! Stillness seemed to be something I was craving and no demands. Which I find really is the very best part of a yoga retreat for me. A small window of time, where nobody really wants anything from me. Mum is off duty. I was even enjoying the no service on my phone until I stupidly logged into the wifi only to discover close to five hundred WhatsApp messages, which I had to wade through as my phones storage is almost full!(I know it is!) Like me, I think it’s just going to combust one day.
The non-yogi amongst you will be wondering what the hell a klesha is. To a practising Yogi you may know but still be trying to wrap your head around this particular aspect of yoga philosophy. As the subject matter is complex. Relatively simple to understand; yet difficult to master and put to good use in daily life. (Unless you live alone, in a cave!) Maybe that’s why history has reported on only a handful of truly enlightened humans. Maybe enlightenment isn’t for the mere mortals amongst us after all.
So to simplify for the non-yogi, apologies to the expert yogis I believe The Kleshas are aspects of our personalities that get in the way of us leading calm, peaceful happier lives. They consist of… Firstly misunderstanding or not seeing clearly a situation as it truly is; usually because the ego, an attachment, an aversion or good old-fashioned fear gets in the way and makes us all a bit nuts. So if we can all just master keeping those little beauties under control all will be well; easy right?
See fear could stop me from writing this, a fear that somebody with a far greater grasp on the sutras and a deep philosophical extensive knowledge of understanding this complex subject may judge my inadequate summary or opinion. But maybe it is my attachment to writing(which I really do enjoy)or my ego overriding that fear that speaks to me and kindly whispers in my ear that I am entitled to share my outlook, nobody has to read it. My ego also says you don’t have to like it. I often get bored mid-article or television programme and if I’m not feeling it, I switch off now or stop. Life is too short to waste time doing things you don’t take pleasure in and think of the extra time saved not moaning about how much you didn’t enjoy it! I know some of us have an attachment to being critical. When I spilled out my heart, writing about how very deeply affected I was by the sudden death of my lovely stepdad a while back, somebody very close to me actually asked: “if I had lost the plot?”! Ouch! She clearly didn’t feel my pain. And yes when someone you love deeply dies you do lose the plot, it is a symptom of grief. I have noticed that you can write a thousand words and a person may only read a single paragraph. It’s fascinating what messages we take away from things and what gets lost. That will be The Kleshas for you.
Trouble is, sharing your written word, leaving a little part of yourself on the page is not so very different to engaging in lively conversation and debate. Its just ideas being shared, like the Buddhists say nothing is real anyway it is all just perception and perspective. Small observations shared from our very often delusional minds. Nobody is really ever truly right or wrong. I like pink, you don’t for example. Is pink good or bad or is it just pink? The written word is evidence of the randomness of these crazy thoughts and feelings which can be read and reread and unfortunately not so easily forgotten. Even though as with regular conversation that particular thought or feeling could be different on another day and often is. A great example of impermanence in action.
My friends daughter is studying psychology at university, she shared that how we see things can be clouded by chemical reactions in the brain caused by a whole host of reasons, throw in some hormones for good measure and we have a real battle trying to keep check and reign it all in, even with the help of a regular yoga and meditation practice, recognising the reason behind every reaction and remembering to acknowledge and better still squash it seems virtually impossible. There are six of us living under my roof; very different personalities and very different stages of life, there are a lot of egos, fears, attachments and aversions going on! It makes for a lively home life that is for sure.
So my youngest makes us play the would you rather game, which amuses him and makes his eight-year-old brain come up with some rather creative scenarios. I asked recently… “Would you rather I am ninety percent jolly and positive with a ten percent dark and teeny bit scary side or just flat, the same.” No longer would I be that person that cries at pretty much everything and gets passionate about the things I love. My husband said my friendliness is annoying so he’d take flat for a bit, my daughter said she loves my positivity but she also likes my bitching (lol). Although I love my Wednesday visits to hear wise words from The Buddha I do often fear that enlightenment could actually leave me a little emotionless! That could be my ego speaking or my attachment to a good cry. Of course, I want to have a calm and peaceful life but I do like to feel and care deeply. It brings with it pleasure and pain, but that makes us who we are, that makes us empathetic and kind.
Would life be a little boring if we were able to slow-mo and analyse every word that left our mouths? Categorising which emotion was responsible for every syllable spoken by both parties. Seeing through the layers of rubbish and witnessing the pureness of their being. Namaste and all that. Would life become dull? Or would it be worth it to be more harmonious and stable? So much to think about! This yoga stuff is deep! I believe that it’s easier to reflect after the event and acknowledge root causes of bad behaviour, not so easy in the heat of the moment.
Amy asked us to bring with us something for the altar that represented the Kleshas. After the usual banter about chocolate and prosecco which we ended up taking to our rooms instead! I had to have a little think on this one, I thought about money as it rules our actions on a daily basis, that fear-based need for security deep-rooted in a dread of not having enough, I nearly dug out a photo of my nineteen-year-old self in a tiny bikini looking skinny and bronzed to represent my attachment to my youth and my looks (shallow but honest) eventually I settled on my little happiness stone. My biggest addiction. My attachment to being nice happy Mandy (my dislike of moany Mandy) and my need for my family and friends to be also happy has made me the people pleaser that I am today. Sometimes it wears me out and I have to go on a Yoga Retreat with my lovely friends.
Working towards enlightenment, Namaste