Recently rummaging through a bag I hadn’t used in a while I found a little folded up piece of paper, and when I opened it up it had written across it “Everything you want in life is just beyond your comfort zone.” Well, this got me thinking about my comfort zone with regards to various aspects of my life, and whether or not I willingly step beyond it. It especially forced me to stop and look at the areas I have complete aversion to pushing beyond, and think about why. In most cases I found my reasoning pretty weak, based on fear, ego or simply habit. This little moment of pause and contemplation about my comfort zone gave me some insight into aversion, dvesa, one of the four obstacles causing avidya (misperception).
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras there are four main obstacle which prevent us from having clear perception: asmita, ego (which we discussed in class last week); dvesa, aversion; raga, attachment; and abhinivesa, fear.
We feel aversion to something because that thing makes us uncomfortable, and so often we act on impulse to run away from it without giving our reasoning a good look over. This results in a life controlled by habit and impulse rather than by our higher discerning nature.
Now, there are many things for which we rightly have aversion because they are harmful to us in one way or another. So this week in class I’ve asked my students to practice taking two deep breaths in the face of aversion, dvesa, and in the space of two simple breaths we can usually decipher if aversion is arising from fear, ego, etc. or from a clearer reasoned perspective.
As always, the awareness we practice in asana class is just as applicable outside of asana class. Already this week I’ve come up against my comfort zone in a few day scenarios, taken two deep breaths, stepped a little over my normal line of comfort, and felt absolutely thrilled with the results. Good luck and enjoy this simple little practice of breathing in the face of dvesa.
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