Never heard of this word? Unless you are a student of yoga, that is likely so. Yet, as one of the many layers or limbs we study to bring our life into a place of peace — something classic yoga does very well — it is an extraordinary practice to know.
Aparigraha is a Sanskrit word that is defined as non-possessiveness. Grouped with the many other yamas which we have thus far explored, it is meant to guide us as we live in the world, in our bodies, surrounded by so much that we might desire. If you look back at the previous posts on the yamas, you will see that there is a symmetry with them. They work hand in hand to offer points of wisdom. With all the many objects and experiences that seem to reach out to us, from all directions, it is a relief to know how to let go of them.
Bear in mind that this does not mean that the goal is to live in a cave, without possessions, engulfed in full-time meditation (which some, in fact, do choose). It means to live in a non-grasping, greedless, non attached state. We can certainly enjoy all the benefits that the world offers yet remain apart from them and not needing them to define us.
LESSON THIRTY FIVE
The renowned yoga master and teacher, B.K.S Iyengar, wrote this:
By the observance of aparigraha, the yogi makes his life as simple as possible
and trains his mind not to feel the loss or lack of anything.
Then everything he needs is welcome to him by itself at the proper time.
I admit that this is a practice that has posed great challenges for me. While it is easy for me to be mostly detached from items of luxury and status, I have in many times of my life been attached to experiences like traveling all around the world, sampling the foods from the most new and trendy restaurants, developing a familiarity with the arts on many levels — going to museums and symphonies and films. It took a long time for me to recognize that I was chasing my tail. There would always be another exotic location to see, another restaurant to try, another movie to view. I slowly began to recognize how futile it was to keep trying to be “in the know.” I began to that it was the game of the ego.
But that is not all! I do not part with memorabilia easily. I have yet to clean out all those boxes in my attic, even though I have not looked in many of them for years. I am a perfect candidate for taking a course in simplicity of possessions. And books are my greatest attachment! I need to wear blinders when I walk into a bookstore. At least I can see some humor in these traits and do not ever use this as a means for self-criticism. All that “stuff” is there, and I tell myself, I live in simple ways on other levels.
As I believe that everything is part of Divine Consciousness, even those musty boxes, and that everything unfolds with purpose and at just the right time, I take it easy on myself. Enjoying my life without attachment, I say.
So I write these words for myself:
- What are you capable of releasing and letting go? What would happen if you did not own this or did not do that?
- Can you fully appreciate and care deeply for what you have in your life, while “packing” lightly?
- Is it possible to imagine how much freedom you have when you are not in the throws of desires and perceived needs?
- Try this: When you are on the verge of something to purchase, take a few breaths and see if the desire (which may be emanating from the ego) will begin to detach.
- Do you know when you are clinging to something?
- Finally, whatever your answers on all of this, it matters that you still experience kindness and unconditional love for yourself. Always!
This is really all about letting our lives become more simple and peaceful and learning how to truly enjoy what we have in a way that shines with the Light of Truth.
Now, I think I better start unpacking those boxes in the attic today. Oh, there is time tomorrow… (That’s just a little bit of a joke.)
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com