Aparigraha – Non Possessiveness
“Aparigraha Sthairye Janmakathamta Sambodhah”
One who is not greedy is secure. He has time to think deeply. His understanding of himself is complete.
Aparigraha is the 5th and final Yama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s and it teaches us the art of letting go.
Aparigraha is often described as non-hoarding, non-grasping, non-possessiveness, non-attachment and non-greed. It reminds us that life is constantly changing, moving and evolving, and when we try to keep things the way that they’ve always been we end up suffering.
This Yama is closely linked to Asetya the third Yama meaning non-stealing, it taught us to only take what is being freely offered to us. Aparigraha teaches us to receive or buy only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment and to let go when the time is right.
Hoarding takes up so much space in our homes, being possessive takes up so much space in our minds. How good does it feel when you do a clear out of your wardrobe, cupboards and clean up the mess that’s lying around? I find that I feel lighter, freer, and like there’s more space for me to breathe… it just feels good. Why then, do we buy and hoard so many things? What are we seeking when we buy things and what are we clinging to when we hoard them?
Not only do we hoard things, we also become attached to who we used to be and the identity that we’ve created for ourselves. We can become possessive over people, ideas, opinions and things believing that they are ours, that we own them, they become “mine”. If we take children as an example; babies give and share, they freely give and hand things to you, then around 2 or 3 years of age, children start to learn, me, my, mine, and they become resistant to sharing their toys because the toys have become part of their identity.. “that’s mine” they’ll say. At some point Children learn that ” I want” isn’t going to give them what they want so they start to negotiate and say “But I NEED” instead. I still find myself doing that sometimes, convincing myself that I need something so I don’t feel bad or guilty about buying something that deep down I know that I don’t actually need! Eckhort Tolle says that when we identify with “I”, “me” “my” or “mine” , that, that is our ego (our false sense of self) and once we can start to let go of the identity of I, me and my then we can begin to see who we truly are. That is what Aparigraha is trying to achieve: it encourages us to let go of excess stuff and the false sense of self so that we free to enjoy life to the fullest.
The more stuff we have the more things that we have to take care which requires our precious time and energy. Here’s some things that we can let go off:
Over consuming of clothes, shoes, bags, books etc
Over-eating (this can make us feel sluggish)
Possessiveness (in relationships)
Feeling like things in life are ours, the sense of ownership (remember we’re only on this earth temporarily so really we’re just borrowing while we’re here) and those things that we own may start owning us in the long run.
Collecting likes and followers on social media (this can become very distracting, time consuming and sometimes even depressing)
Aparigraha encourages us to do something nice for someone without wanting or expecting anything in return… no strings attached. It encourages us to share the things that we enjoy. When you think I “need” that for me.. could you share it with someone else or buy it for someone else who might need it more. Aparigraha burns out selfishness, and reminds us that less is more, that there is no “I “only an us and when we wish happiness and joy for others we too will receive a sense of joy and happiness.
PUTTING APARIGRAHA INTO PRACTICE
ELIMINATE THE CLUTTER – Freeing up space in your house, means that you’ll have less things getting in your way and less things to look after, allowing more time to be of service to others.
BEGIN TO FORGIVE YOURSELF AND OTHERS – When we hold on to a grudge or a horrible memory and keep replaying it in our minds, we just hurt ourselves. We don’t allow space to heal inside, instead we keep picking at the scab and every so often it bursts wide open again. You probably won’t forget but you can forgive, you don’t have to tell the person that you forgive them, you don’t have to spend any time with that person, but instead you can release the resentment and bitterness that has built up and become toxic. You can simply say “I forgive you” out loud when no one is around or you can write it down and then burn it. Once you unload the burden and anger you can become the kind loving person that you know that you are.
GO OUTSIDE AND WITNESS THE BEAUTY OF NATURE – Mother Nature is the perfect teacher. Especially now in Autumn when the trees start to let go of their leaves, we can see how beautiful and effortless it is to let go. The leaves themselves then create nourishment for the soil so the flowers can bloom again in spring. There’s a constant flow of letting go and rebirth when we open our eyes to it. The caterpillar entering into a cocoon, shedding its former identity completely to resurface as a beautiful and graceful butterfly. Letting go can be hard at first but then we wonder.. Why did it take us so long.
IN YOUR PRACTICE – Practice letting go of perfection just do your best and know that, that’s enough. Observe your breath, notice how it comes and goes, notice how we have to let go of the breath otherwise we won’t receive the fresh supply of oxygen from the next inhale. We can’t hoard the inhales, we can’t just keep taking inhales, it doesn’t work that way, we have to let go before we can receive a new fresh breath.
APARIGRAHA IN ASANA
Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Supta – Reclined
Baddha – Bound
Kon – Angle
Asana – Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana is a restorative pose that relaxes the body mind and spirit allowing us to simply open up, let go and release to what is happening in the present moment. Supta Baddha Konasana is a wonderful pose if you are required to sit or stand for long periods of time as you’ll receive a great opening and stretch in the hips, however in the end this pose is not about stretching or doing anything, it’s about letting go of life’s busy demands and simply surrendering to find contentment and peace.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Relaxing and Calming
Increased sense of well-being
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Increased overall Energy
Stretches the groin and inner thighs and knees
Opens the chest and lungs – allowing for increased lung capacity and deeper breathing
Relaxes the abdominal muscles and organs
Stimulates the digestive system – improving digestion and elimination
Improves blood flow
Can reduce occurrence of headaches
Relief from Fatigue and Insomnia
Can be helpful for PMS and infertility
Can be beneficial to those with Asthma and Heart Disease
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
This pose is safe for everyone but be mindful if you have a recent, hip, groin, or knee injury (place a block, blanket or cushion under thighs or avoid over stretching an injury)
Pregnant women should use a bolster or blocks to lift the chest up and torso up.
Women who have just given birth should wait at least 8 weeks before doing this pose to allow the pelvic muscles to firm up again
HINTS AND TIPS
Put on some extra layers if you’re staying a while as the body will cool down
If your knees or hips feel discomfort place a block, blanket or cushion under each knee
You can place a rolled up towel or blanket under the neck for more comfort
Place a block or bolster under the rib-cage to open the chest and lungs more.
For pregnancy place a bolster length-ways to lift the chest and torso up