Spring is around the corner, the season for change and renewal, and I am embracing Aparigraha wholeheartedly as we begin to let go of winter and welcome in the new season.
Aparigraha is the last of the Yamas and focuses on the importance of neutralising our seemingly natural desire to ‘acquire and hoard’.
This important Yama teaches us to take only what we need, to keep only what serves us in the moment, and to let go when the time is right.
Aparigraha has many translations. In its purest form, it resembles Vairagya, the Sanskrit word for detachment and renunciation. It is the path that India’s holy men, the sadhus, take when they leave all worldly things behind. Traditionally implying their belief and faith in the gods to provide what is needed.
Aparigraha helps us to see beyond the small world of our personal desires. By taking more than we need, we are depleting resources from the world and all other sentients. But it’s meaning also refers to our feelings of attachment. Our lives are full of moments that we wish would never end, wanting to hold onto those pleasures great and small. Wishing we could hold onto our youth, our relationships, our security.
Change is the only constant thing we can expect in life and clinging to moments, past or present, will not bring us peace.
To experience only the good things in life is to experience only half of what life has to offer. Living through the times of darkness helps us to understand every aspect of our selves bringing the gift of strength and resourcefulness within its arms. Rumi puts it so well when he says “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
To live life with an open heart, with honesty and integrity, we should not try to avoid those uncomfortable feelings, but allow them in, sit with them and know that these too will pass.
“This being human is a guesthouse. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honourably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond”.
We also build up and hold onto resentments. We acquire and defend opinions and beliefs about ourselves and our relationships. Playing out to our own life ‘stories’.
The Dalai Lama says:
“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire to attachment for things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.”
Being able to detach from these ‘stories’ by understanding the triggers that start them rolling, is a way to let go and be free. To stop defining your happiness by other peoples’ opinion of you.
It is our own sense of self…. when we let go… we grow…
When we allow the moment to simply be…. neither trying to hold on to it, or to force it away, we are really living in that moment, allowing things to flow within there natural rhythm, relinquishing the need to possess any of it.
Similarly during our practice, we have an opportunity to observe where we are holding on with our bodies, the key to Aparigraha belongs with our breath. We can trust our breath to leave us, knowing we will be rewarded once again with its rejuvenate life force. When we hold onto our breath, our body tightens, while exhaling allows us to move more deeply into our posture.
Aparigraha offers us freedom and balance: The freedom to work and do what we love without worrying about the outcome; the freedom to rely less on external and material possessions to bring us happiness and; the freedom to experience everything life has to offer, whatever that may be. There within lies balance…