The Eight Limbs of Yoga: An 18-week mini-course
WEEK FIVE: APARIGRAHA
Acknowledging abundance, we recognize the blessings in everything and gain insights into the purpose of our worldly existence.
– SUTRA II.39
Living in Abundance
Being in a state of gratitude has been found to alleviate stress and enhance the quality of life. Practicing Aparigraha, translated as non-greed or non-clinging, teaches us to experience the abundance in our lives by letting things go. The term usually means to limit possessions to what is necessary or important, which changes with the time period we are living in.
“If our homes are filled with old junk that doesn’t apply to us anymore, there’s no room for new energy to come in,” says Charlotte Bell. That holds true for the nonmaterial ideas and attitudes you cling to as well. “If you are hanging onto old beliefs about yourself or your relationships, or clinging to a career that no longer feeds you, there’s no latitude to move in a different direction.
To invite Aparigraha, try a simple practice. Acknowledge abundance and practice gratitude. Nischala Devi writes, “Take a moment at the start and end of each day to feel gratitude for the great blessings that surround you, the home you live in, the service you do in the world, the availability and quantity of food you have to eat. The riches also include your friends, your health, and the opportunity to dedicate time to know your own heart.”
SEVEN TIPS FOR PRACTICING APARIGRAHA
What do you hold on to (maybe a little too tightly) in your life? Is it really necessary or could it be time to let it go? By releasing what no longer serves us, we open ourselves to fresh ideas, new relationships, and more harmonious ways of living and being our truest Self.
LET IT GO. Possessions take up space and energy—in your head as well as in your home. So try this: Every time you buy something new, let go of something old—give it away, or toss it out. By letting go of things from the past, you can live more fully in the present.
BREATHE. When we get stressed out, we tend to hold our breath, and cling to the very tension that causes further anxiety. Instead, when you feel your body tightening, release the breath and allow yourself to inhale slowly, deeply, fully, creating spaciousness. You will feel more relaxed and open to the possibilities within the moment.
PRACTICE SELF CARE. When we are afraid and insecure, we may feel a need to cling to and control those who are closest to us. That rarely works. Instead, find ways to nurture and center yourself so that you feel independent and strong in your own right, and can allow others to be who they need to be.
BE POSITIVE. When we cling to negative thoughts, emotions, or memories, we spiral into destructive habit patterns. Instead, acknowledge the negative thought and then consider it’s opposite – whatever that is for you. Then allow yourself to sink into the feeling of the positive thought and allow it to create a harmonious space for yourself and others.
FORGIVE. Let go of painful stories from your past. Free yourself by offering forgiveness to yourself for any harm you have caused. Forgive others for any hurt they have caused you or harm they have done.
PRACTICE. Sometimes we try so hard to be perfect—in our movements, meditation, contemplation — that we miss the essence of practice. Instead, embrace the natural state of imperfections as your own unique expression. Do your best in practice by simply being present exactly as you are. Let go and stay open to guidance from within.
BE GENEROUS. Expand your capacity to stretch yourself. Share your time, your energy, your knowledge, your attention, your connections. Donate. Volunteer. Give in whatever way you can.
As the season of Thanksgiving is upon us, let it serve as a reminder to invite the attitude of gratitude into each day, letting go of any excuses, distractions, or discord that may keep you from this practice of the heart.