Fear. Judgement. Insecurity. Control. Worry. Anger. These are a few things that a group of my students wrote down to let go of as their intention for our class theme of aparigraha in May. Aparigraha is the fifth of the yamas in the Yoga Sutras in which Patanjali advises us to tread lightly as we journey through life. Aparigraha simply means non-possessiveness. What we already have isn’t the problem. How we look at what we have can be the root of our problems. Aparigraha asks us to look inside of ourselves for happiness, instead of looking to the external world for people and objects to fulfill us.
The Yoga Sutra states that attachment originates from fear. At the most basic level we cling to things in life because of fear. A survival instinct in our lower chakras tells us we must hold on or our life will be threatened without this fear. The seed of fear is ignorance. We fear being alone. We have anxiety about losing our job. We worry about making enough money. We doubt our abilities. We are scared to death of dying! We fear because we abandon our true nature, and in our lack of conscious awareness we look outside of ourselves for what we think we need. Letting go cannot be forced. True letting go can only occur when there is balance in our minds and compassion in our hearts. We come to our yoga practice to foster these qualities of equanimity and compassion. The ability to let go emanates through yoga and is a skill that develops the more we practice. It can be cultivated but never forced.
When we look at the source of stress, the source of tension, the source of pressure, or whatever is pulling us out of a state of being happy, content and centered we find that it almost always is identification with the roles that we play in our lives. We might identify with the role of being a man or woman, a teacher or a student, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, famous or unknown, married or single, but we are none of these identities. To the amplitude that we cling to these false identities, we constantly have to safeguard ourselves, seeking to fulfill what is lacking in them, to worry their loss. Still, these are not our true identities. A Zen master once said “I am none of that. I am not this body, so I was never born and will never die. I am nothing and I am everything. Your identities make all your problems. Discover what is beyond them, the delight of the timeless, the deathless.”
Aparigraha does not ask you to give everything up and live in a cave in the mountains. You don’t renounce the roles that you play in life. Instead, you adjust your attitudes toward them. Aparigraha is relinquishing our attachment to the world and our roles within it, without relinquishing the world itself.
The Yoga Sutra (2.39) says, when we come to grasp aparigraha fully, “when one is steadfast in non-possessiveness or non-grasping with the senses (aparigraha), there arises knowledge of the why and wherefore of past and future incarnations.”
Come LET GO in any of our classes offered here at Wilmington Yoga Center.
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