Aparigraha - Why we can’t let go
Aparigraha is the last of the five Yamas. The Yamas are the ethical code of conduct for yogis so this is the first of Pantajali’s Eight Limbs of yoga. (To find out about the other yamas please do have a look at my blog posts on them, or to look at them deeper, join me for a 5 Week Yama Yoga course). This Yama is best translated as non attachment, but what are we attached to?
As a species, we like stuff. We fill our nests with beautiful art, furniture, books, blankets and cushions and we peacock using fast cars, flashy watches and far too many clothes. How many clothes do you have that you haven’t worn in over a year, and probably will never wear again? But gosh, aren’t these things hard to get rid of? We form attachments to these items because they bring us joy or are connected to a special memory or person. We confuse this joy with happiness, and we want to feel happy. But is it really the thing that brings you joy? Or was it the fun holiday you went on with your friends? When you buy a new party outfit, do you crave the outfit or do you crave a fun time with your friends? Next time you’re about to buy something new, take a moment to think if you really need it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to treat yourself sometimes, perhaps next time you bring home something new, let go of something old.
Let your concern be with the action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction – Krishna
As the quote above explores, sometimes we tend to get attached to the outcome of a project and forget to enjoy the process. A good example of this could be planning a holiday: as you plan, you daydream about how amazing the holiday will be and forget to realise how fun it can be to plan. Although I may be alone in my love of organizing, when you focus on the goal of what you’re planning you miss out on the fun you have on the way. While planning a holiday, you spend time with your partner or family, you bond over where you want to go, what you want to do, and the horror stories of bad holidays your friends have had, as well as squabbling over which resort looks better. These loving moments are lost when you focus on the end result.
Aparigraha shows us that when we let go of the things we want and the goals we aim for, we can enjoy the present moment. Non attachment doesn’t always mean clearing out your closet, it can mean basking in the now instead of looking to the future.
If you’ve enjoyed this set of blog posts on the Yamas and it’s whet your appetite to learn more, you may be interested in a course I’m running. It’s 5 weeks long and it explores the Yamas in far more detail than these blog posts.
Each week we will explore one of these Yamas in detail, this will include a specially written article explaining the concept, a private 1 hour yoga class, a private 20 minute meditation class and an activity/challenge to help embody the teaching, so that you can learn what they are and how to live them. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, take a look at the information on my website (floga.org/yoga-courses) or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)