Aparigraha: Practicing Non-Attachment
Posted on January 2nd, 2017
Hello beautiful warriors! I hope you had a lovely New Year and that 2017 brings peace, health and happiness!
Something I’ve been working on is aparigraha, which translates to non-attachment, non-greediness, and detachment. Aparigraha is the last of the yamas in Pantanjali’s eight-limbed path of yoga.
Our lives are filled with attachments for material goods and possessions, people, thoughts and ideas. When we have attachments we also create suffering. Life is filled with change and nothing will last forever. When we have attachments, perhaps to a relationship or the desire to stay youthful, we set ourselves up for dejection and disappointment.
We don’t have to renounce everything or not have nice things. There’s a fine line, however, between keeping materials that give us pleasure versus cluttering our closets with unnecessary possessions. The same goes with beliefs. There is nothing wrong with having core values. In fact, it’s something to celebrate when you feel rooted with your morals. The problem, however, is when you abhor change and are not open to hearing other beliefs or allowing certain ideas to evolve with time. We are not meant to be rigid. Life is about letting go and letting the universe guide us. Life is not meant to be stagnant. It’s about growth and movement. When we cling to something so fiercely, we limit ourselves from expansion and growth.
Aparigraha is not always easy to practice, especially in a society where we place such value on our identity and what belongs to us. For example: my house, my Instagram, my car etc. Even though it is often tricky and perhaps even scary to let go of emotions, thoughts, ideas and possessions, it is imperative for our health.
Here are some ways to practice aparigraha:
Self-care is important on so many levels. On a spiritual level, toxins and physical burdens keep us attached to our worldly sufferings. In terms of attachment, self-care keeps us from running low on self-love gas. When we feel badly about ourselves, we are much more likely to cling to others or external goods to make up for what is lacking within. Find whatever routine, exercise or practice makes you feel full warrior mode. Independence and strength cultivate happier and healthier relationships. We are able to enjoy them but not feel dependent on them and because we feel whole we are able to share our light with others and the world.
Spending time in nature is a wonderful practice of aparigraha. Have you noticed in nature how everything just flows perfectly with a natural rhythm? Everything is constantly in flux, like the seasons and weather, and all living things adjust accordingly. They’re living moment to moment, not attached to the past or present. If you find yourself particularly attached to something, earthing (yes literally letting your feet touch the earth), gardening, going for a walk, or even sitting outside is a fantastic way to instill harmony between you and nature. Nature is our greatest teacher and we should never go too long without listening to the wisdom it has to teach us, particularly about letting go, going with the flow, and that nothing is real except for this present moment.
Yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation are wonderful in giving us the strength to face the negative so that we can let it go when we leave the mat. As we flow breath to breath, we shed baggage that has accumulated. Allow yourself to let it all go so that you feel nothing but peace, contentment and happiness. Your practice is a time to check in and observe where you are holding onto tension – both physically and mentally. Yoga and meditation give us the tools of detachment so we can look at the situation from a bigger picture. Why are we feeling the way we are? What triggered it (there is lots to be learned from our triggers)? Something much bigger can happen when we go deeper into the negative. Observe, breathe, and then let it go.
Regularly tend to your space to get rid of any clutter. It’s very refreshing to free your space of excess objects and clothes! This cleansing also extends to your phone, computer, office space, car etc. Kapha types, in particular, who have sentimental attachments can find this hard as the urge is to keep everything. Ask yourself do you really need this? Could someone else benefit from this? It’s even more of a great feeling when you give your unneeded clothes to those that really need them. Decluttering also can create a big difference on your mental health. It’s much easier to meditate in a clean open room with light. Clean room = happy life.
I hope that these simple tips help you to practice aparigraha in your every day life. It’s not easy but it’s far more hurtful when we hold onto something. As Rumi said “be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop”.