Release your grip
Let’s face it: We’re attached to people, places, things, and beliefs. Rightfully so, we’re human and it’s not the possessions or the thoughts in themselves that are the problem, it’s the tightness of our grip.
Aparigraha means non-hoarding, non-possession, non-attachment, and only taking what you truly need.
The easiest way to practice aparigraha is in the physical realm. Limiting one’s possessions and not allowing the possessions to define us, however, is easier said than done. Think of how many times you’ve judged a person based on how they look or felt better about yourself after buying something nice. On the other side of the coin, have you ever been deeply upset over the loss of something? When we cling to the things we own and continue to give into the desire for more, we’re missing the point. External things don’t shine for long and they quickly lose their importance in our awareness. More often than not after the initial pleasure of possession passes, we’re left with a feeling of emptiness. The same holds true for when we give to gain something in return.
“A person who possesses 100 desires 200; one who possesses 200 desires 400. One who is truly wealthy is one who does not become caught up by such desires, but rather maintains inner peace and calm.”
– The Lubavitcher Rebbe
The path of contentment through simplification takes practice. Clinging to a fixed idea or grasping for a particular experience is no different from desperately giving into the desire for an unnecessary new pair of sunglasses. Often times when we are deeply rooted in our beliefs, we close ourselves off to the possibility of a new experience or alternate perspective. This also comes up on our mat. We may identify with the internal voice that tells us we can’t do a certain pose or cling to the fear that arises in our practice. We may also put all of our happiness into the moment when we finally accomplish our goal pose and once we get there we realize there is yet another pose we still can’t do. And so it becomes an endless chase for more, an Ouroboros of sorts that leaves us chasing our own tail and devouring the peace and calm that we experience when we truly let go.
“One who is not greedy is secure. He has time to think deeply. His understanding of himself is complete.” – Yoga Sutra II.39