Introspective Yoga: Releasing for Aparigraha

This week's blog is about aparigraha, non-greediness or non-clinging, the very last of the yamas.

Let's do a quick recap. The yamas, or ethical restraints are part of the eight limbs of yoga. They are the "don't do" in yoga philosophy. The yamas are pretty ancient ideas, they came from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Links to previous blogs: Introduction to the Eight Limbs || Ahimsa || Satya ||  Asteya || Brahmacharya

Aparigraha asks us to consider letting go... to release your grip.

Ravi Ravindra says, "The social forces of advertising are geared to manipulate our sense of greed and fear, in creating competition with others for more and more possessions. It is important to understand the force of possessiveness, acquisitiveness, and grasping in ourselves as well was our culture. Ironically, it is our inborn wish for a greater being that ignorance turns into a wish, or even a need, for more and more possessions. Unless we see the strength of acquisitiveness in ourselves—for wealth, fame, information, knowledge, experience and approval of others—we will not appreciate the need to struggle against this tendency to rid our psyche of this obstacle." 

We're surrounded by things. It's in our very culture to want and consume -- more, more, more. Sometimes it's the materialism we could do without. 

Other times, it's the people, places, or thoughts we cling to.

As you explore this yama, I remind you to have self-compassion for yourself. It is extremely human to want things. It is extremely human to cling on to things, even to our detriment. 

Think about your friend that goes back to their toxic ex after countless times. Or perhaps you've been that friend yourself. As you know, the answer to the problem isn't in sitting back and judging your friend, but in acting with compassion and encouraging your friend to make better choices.  

Aparigraha isn't about renouncing everything. Aparigraha is having the wisdom to be mindful about your desires and clinging. It is in knowing that you want things, knowing when you want things, and knowing how wanting affects you -- that can truly release you from the trappings of greediness or possessiveness -- unhealthy wanting.

I wrote an Ingstram post recently about this exact experience.

You see, I have been clinging to the idea that I need to know it all. I need to have all the answers to my life, like yesterday. And because I don't know -- I am bothered. I am hurt. But here's what I concluded from the post.

"But it’s becoming clearer that I don’t need to cling to this... I don’t need to know everything right now.

I don’t need to fix or figure out everything in my life right now. I don’t need to obsess over the problems and thoughts that make me sad.

Maybe that’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom... I can use everything I’ve learned to be a more empowered woman, rather than a defeated woman.

And so I hold myself with compassion as I let go of my desire to know and fix everything right now.

I hold myself with compassion as I let go of my impatience. I hold myself with compassion as I let go of the ways of thinking that don’t serve me.

Simply acknowledging this about myself, I was able to release some of the tension that built up from clinging. I felt more free, because I let go with self-compassion and an understanding that not all of it had to be released at once.

And so I ask you, what are you clinging on to? What is it you can release? Can you be less greedy or possessive? I leave you with this quote. 

"Holding on to anything is like holding on to your breath. You will suffocate." --Deepak Chopra

Release and keep breathing.