Aparigraha: We Already Have it All!
Well, we are approaching the end of the Yamas. The final Yama is Aparigraha. This Yama emphasizes non-greed, non-coveting, and acknowledging our already present abundance. This Yama also presents the idea of letting go, non-hoarding; relinquishing old habits, ideas, and philosophies in order to make space for new ones. Many people may find this Yama to be difficult because of their fear of change.
Nischala Joy Devi discusses in The Secret Power of Yoga how Aparigraha challenges our fears. When we have possessions or have acquired a certain amount of wealth, we fear losing it. Fear will lead to greed because we want to ensure we will always have enough. But the fact is you already have enough, probably more than enough. We then fall into this cycle of buying more to compensate for our fear of losing what we already have. Before we know it, we have a garage full of stuff and we can't even park the car in there any more. This is just the typical American consumer way. We want bigger houses, bigger cars, and more toys and yet we fear losing them. The practice we need to cultivate to live in a more yogic way would be gratitude and acknowledging our present abundance. When we don't show gratitude for what we have, it's like telling the Universe we aren't happy with what we've been given. Like I said on my FB LIVE Yoga class this weekend, the grass isn't always greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it. If we seek abundance in our lives, we need to show gratitude for what we have already been given and then more will come to us. Like attracts like. That's why gratitude is the attitude to cultivate abundance.
Inside the Yoga Sutras by Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Aparigraha is explained as greed. When we want more than we need, we create the energy of greed. Fear creates a scarcity mindset because we feel like we will never have enough or that we may lose it. Again, fear creates greed. When we feel like we don't have enough, we want more. So we buy more. It becomes a cycle of addiction. As a former shopaholic, I can totally relate to this. I would buy pretty things to feel good and when the good feeling wore off, I needed to buy again. Addiction is a bitch. When we are greedy it is due to an unsatisfied need. But it will never be satisfied until we identify the underlying need. I believe once we find the underlying issue to our craving that needs to be fulfilled, we can find peace. Perhaps, we need love and acknowledgment or to understand we are already whole and do not need anything outside of ourselves to feel complete.
Another example of when we need to practice Aparigraha is when we become jealous and envious of others. We may become jealous and covet what others have, whether it's a new purse, a new car, or a new job, we are sending out low vibrations to the Universe telling her, we are not happy with what we already have. Like I mentioned earlier, the grass isn't always greener. This can also play out on the mat. Maybe you've been in class and saw a fellow yogi execute a beautiful asana and have felt envious of her/his practice. Instead of being jealous, replace that feeing with love, knowing what is meant for you will come to you effortlessly.
One of my most favorite interpretations of this Yama is about being able to release and let go; non-hoarding. We can hoard all kinds of things: old items, old relationships, old habits, or old ideas. When we allow these things to leave our life, we make space for something new to enter. We are cleaning out our metaphorical closets. When we replace an old, unhealthy habit with a new, healthier one, we are practicing Aparigraha. We let go of old philosophies or ideologies because we've grown and learned something new. Our thoughts are forced to change due to new information. This can be difficult because we are challenging an old belief system. This can be especially scary because we may have built our life according to this belief system. For example, we have a friend who's made some positive changes to their life and maybe they aren't the person we grew to know and love. They are different. Sometimes we have conflicting ideas and it can be upsetting because this person does not fit our old view, now we need to change that picture in our head of that person. We need to upload the new version of this person, so to speak. This happened for me when I quit drinking. Many of my old friends dropped away because I wasn't spending my free time on the weekends out at bars. They stopped calling me to hang out and I stopped calling them. I made space for new friends and new activities.
To quote Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison from their book, Meditations from the Mat, "Living the Yamas is at once an awesome challenge and a simple task. At their core is personal responsibility. We are faced over and over again with a choice: to take responsibility for our fear or to deny it. Over and over again, we are called upon to see that we can make our decisions from a place of fear or from a place of faith." After I read this passage, I felt compelled to share the Yamas and Niyamas for the basic notion that they teach personal responsibility. So, to recap the Yamas: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, and non-hoarding. Next week, we begin the Niyamas, which are observances to help us in our spiritual growth.
Be well. Stay well.