Fear…the final cause of suffering according to ancient yogic philosophy. As a society we are drowning in it! Fear of stepping outside our door, fear of losing our job, friendships, loved ones. Fear of being laughed at, not taken seriously, not being good enough, getting sick…the list goes on. (Fear of not being able to stay up in an inversion during yoga class!)

It’s probably safe to say that a not a day goes by without us experiencing fear. Fears can be tiny or magnified. They can be fleeting or lingering. Subconscious or obvious. A simple worry or a full blown panic attack!

Sometimes fear plays out as something else (possibly aversion or attachment).

Fear (abhinivesa) can prevent us from living our lives fully by restricting our thoughts and then our actions.

Imagine a life without any fear? The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say that the biggest fear of all – death – is innate in all of us even the wise and learned. The desire to live is inborn. We cannot change this about ourselves. But there are many lesser fears that can be managed.

If you want to confront your fear finding it’s source is the solution. Fears can manifest from long held beliefs – stubborn and difficult to shift. False perception of a situation or idea can take much conscious work to resolve. And even when it is resolved we can always be at risk of falling back into familiar patterns or beliefs.

How much of our life do we really spend with clarity of thought and action? The state where the mind is not coloured at all is a very rare one.

We know it only takes one of our klesa-s (wrong perception, aversion, desire, ego, fear) to be in excess for suffering to manifest.

Which is why we choose to practice yoga or other mindfulness practices. Just as the body needs to be cleaned, so too the mind!

Yoga is a purifying practice for both body and mind. We have first hand experience of what it can do on a physical level but the most important work is happening below the surface. On an energetic level it allows us to remove emotional and mental blockages so that we live and observe with clarity and freedom. If we are not weighed down by worries, pain or fears we can operate at a level that invites vigour and health into our body.

Yoga can be a tool for change. When we become self empowered in our own healing process, the klesa-s (causes of suffering) will begin to diminish!

By Jill Harris