Aparigraha is the last of the Yamas and possibly one of the greatest opportunities for inner peace and freedom... What does it mean? Non-hoarding, non-possessiveness, non-seizing... are we acquiring and holding on to things which we do not need?
There is a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “There is enough for everybody’s needs, but not for everybody’s greed.” Cultivation of Aparigraha is both the invitation and opportunity to look at our own lives and see how we collect or possibly even hoard things that we do not need.
How many clothes do we have in our wardrobes and drawers which we do not wear? How many books on our bookshelves which we are never likely to read? How many objects in our houses which are just clutter? Now it may be that you are the type of person who already systematically declutters on a regular basis, that you find peace in minimalism...or perhaps tend towards the other way?
Shopping may or may not be a favourite pastime but we all have to do it in some capacity and so we must think carefully about what we buy. Do I actually NEED that? Have we become victims of the consumer society in which we live, subjected to advertising etc etc.
How often do we buy or take more than we need so that we actually end up throwing away food and other items?
And with possessions come responsibility and often stress, is that not so? Maintaining our houses, cars, boats, planes (ha ha!) But seriously the more we have, the more we have to lose and that often creates fear and anxiety. How much simpler would life be if we didn’t have to worry about insurance policies, keeping our possessions safe? Now obviously we do NEED a roof over our heads, reliable transport, clothing and quite a lot more ‘stuff’ but let us be more aware of that ‘stuff’ which we do not need.
Perhaps we could contemplate on what it is which prompts us to amass possessions (it could be necessity or greed) and to hold on to them (fear, usefulness, pride, anxiety or uncertainty about the future?)
Now it may not surprise you that Aparigraha is not just about material possessiveness but also holding on to thoughts which are unhelpful, which keep us stuck in difficult places. We have all been conditioned by our upbringing, our education, by what we read and watch. Are our thoughts helpful or do they promote misery or create a negative outlook in our lives?
Happily as we practise yoga we can consciously begin to let go of unhelpful attachments, be they physical, emotional or mental. But it takes time! Sometimes we are not even aware of what we need to let go of, of what is holding us back. This is why the heart opening practices in Dru Yoga can be so useful as they allow us to connect with our intuition and even begin to release those deeper seated fears and anxieties.
Aparigraha...the opportunity to release the old ways and patterns ...and things we no longer need... and discover the beauty and gifts of a life filled with the simplicity and embrace of the trust in the present moment.