Yoga Philosophy: The Tree of Avidya: Abhinivesa

As we dive deeper into concentration, concentrating on where our hesitations are, and what holds us back can be a tremendous challenge, and one with infinite rewards. Our final limb of the Tree of Avidya, that which gets in the way of all that we are is called Abhinivesa.

TK Desikachar describes Abhinivesa as “the most secret aspect of avidya…” In some texts it is thought to pertain to a fear of death, though is more often translated to fear of the unknown. Taking a look at what stops us and slows us down, creates hesitation and a fear response in the body can be both terrifying and joyous.

Concentrating on how and where we find fear within the physical body can show us where we need to treat ourselves with tenderness, where we need to spend additional time, or where we need to proceed with caution. That hesitation and caution response in the body gives us a wealth of information. By focusing on where the spaces are and how the body responds we can open and learn in a multitude of ways.

Desikachar also discusses other ways that abhinivesa manifests in our lives:

  • When we feel uncertainty in trying new things.
  • We have doubts about our position in life.
  • We are afraid that people will judge us negatively.
  • We feel uncertain when our lifestyles are upset.
  • We do not want to grow old.

Being able to examine these areas and surrender ourselves to the flow of life is not easy. These moments challenge us, which is why Desikachar discusses them as a secret. These are the moments when we choose to do the work and engage ourselves in the process with focus and lovingkindness.

Fear is a natural part of being a human is this world, with unexpected events. It’s how we respond to it that makes all the difference, and part of mindfulness is being able to observe those reactions without judgement and to allow them to flow by.

Challenge yourself to release some uncertainty this upcoming week. You are a beautiful being!