stillpoint yoga

yoga meditation and philosophy with Lynn Fraser
in the Himalayan Tradition of H.H. Sri Swami Rama


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Swami Rama

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Emotions and Commotions

 Vrittis are waves in the mind. They are caused by many things – emotions, kleshas, our reactions to life. A samskara is an impression or groove created in the mind from a vritti. A vasana is a strong groove (or habit pattern) created in the mind by repeated and strengthened samskaras.  Our samskaras and vasanas are stored in the causal body (soul). This is the seed which has the momentum to be reincarnated again and again. We change momentum of our karma by changing our desires, thoughts and actions which then sow new seeds or samskaras and vasanas.  The impressions stored in the causal body then lead us in new directions, giving new direction to our desires, thoughts and actions.

 When we launder clothing with a stain, it may leave a residue.  We then have to work directly with the stain to weaken it and get it out.  We reduce our kleshas through our sadhana or yoga practice.   

Samskaras cause the 5 kleshas or stains, Yoga Sutras II:vs3:

·        avidya – ignorance (of the true Self) is the root cause of the other kleshas

·        asmita – I-ness or ego

·        raga –  attachment, color of mind, thinking pattern, way we perceive

·        dvesha – aversion

·        abhinivesha – self preservation or fear of death or losing one’s sense of self


The six negative emotions are:

·        kama – desire is the root cause of the other five negative emotions

·        krodha –  anger or hatred

·        lobha – greed

·        moha – delusion

·        mada – frenzy

·        matsarya –  jealousy

 The six negative emotions may arise when one of the four primitive urges or fountains are threatened. 

 The four fountains/primitive urges are:

  • sleep
  • food
  • sex
  • self preservation (fear of death or loss). 


5 Kleshas

 “The five kleshas are the 5 perversive cognitions (viparyayas).  Flowing forth, they strengthen the authority and power of the gunas, establish the states of mutation, enable the stream of cause and affect to flood forth, and having created a system of mutual dependence, carry forth the fruition and maturation of actions (karma). That’s it!”  (YS Chpt II vs.3) 

Ignorance or avidya is the field of growth of the latter four kleshas. Only through the eradication of avidya will the other four kleshas be eliminated. They become operative by finding appropriate vrittis. They become activated in the mind field as vrittis and increase the causal cognition of samskaras which then encourage the arising of vrittis. It is thus that kleshas become operational. 

Avidya produces attraction (raga) which again produces kleshas.   To understand the way kleshas are generated and operate is to proceed with the task of uprooting them.

 Avidya/ ignorance is neither correct knowledge nor merely its absence but is a different cognition that is the opposite of correct knowledge. Avidya is fourfold:

  • Mistaking permanent/impermanent (eg this earth is not permanent)
  • Pure/impure (the body may be compared to a jewel or the moon but isn’t pure)
  • Pleasant/painful (even pleasant seeming things can create bondage and anxiety and residue of samskaras which lead to kleshas)
  • Self/non-Self and falsely identifying the Self with the mind which is not the Self but is an instrument (the mind’s reduction and loss is not the reduction and loss of the Self)

 Raga/ attachment produces the misapprehension of impure as pure.  Whatever one is attached to appears pure, such as our own bodies or the bodies of those entities to which we are attached.

Dvesha/ aversion causes the misapprehension of pleasure in the painful so that moods and feelings like jealousy, which cause an inner burning, are held and maintained by the hateful as though these were agreeable conditions.

 Asmita/ I-am-ness causes the misapprehension of the Self in the non-self.

Abhinivesha/ fear of death is the obsession for physical continuity and makes one perceive the non-eternal as eternal. Though such an obsession, one’s mind denies the possibility of death or of cosmic dissolution.

 The cycle continues until it is broken through correct knowledge.

Conflict in Relationships – by Swami Veda



From Mother Wound, Phillip Moffat Buddhist psychologist, article in Yoga Journal

So, how do you make a deeply emotional wound your yoga? You begin by staying alert to those times you find yourself clinging, constricted from aversion, or caught in wanting in some manner connected to difficulties with your mother. You remind yourself to treat this difficult memory or emotion as your yoga practice. Your intention is to become more flexible in your emotions, to let loose of anger and defensiveness, and to stop suppressing your feelings.

Just as each posture in hatha yoga is a physical form to help your body find flexibility, so it is with how you begin to treat strong emotions around your mother. I mean this quite literally. In hatha yoga, you learn to hold a particular pose in a relaxed manner; after that, it is the form of the pose that stretches you. As with the yoga of the mother wound, it is just the same; it becomes your emotional yoga. Each time you encounter the tension, you identify it as being a particular form that has appeared in the mind: It may be a memory, a current frustration, or a sense that you lack the ability to achieve something at present because of how the past has molded you. You stay mindful of the shape of the experience, noticing the pain and any resistance that arises. Meet these feelings with compassion, equanimity, and loving-kindness—it does not matter if the thoughts and feelings are dark and unseemly. This is the yoga of softening the heart, surrendering to what’s true in the moment. Despite the discomfort it may be causing, you can be with whatever is arising in your mind. It is only a thought that is emotionally loaded, which in time will pass.


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