Aparigraha is fundamentally about letting go of materialism and the vital recognition that seeking happiness is not an outside job, but one deeply settled within you. It’s about understanding that ‘Things’ are not relevant to happiness. And let’s face it, in todays climate crisis, we need more than ever to let go of the constant drive to buy and consume more and more.
Aparigraha comes from a Sanskrit work meaning ‘non-possessiveness’ or ‘non-attachment’. It’s one of the foundation learnings of yoga, first appearing in Patanjalis 8 limbs of yoga, written around 3 thousand years ago, as part of his step by step guide to spiritual enlightenment.
In fact, Aparigraha is mentioned in the very first limb –the Yamas (meaning ‘control’), which act as the moral compass of behaviour towards others (think ‘do unto others’ philosophy of treating people how you want to be treated).
The point is, how can we liberate the soul and find inner peace if we are constantly chasing down material ‘stuff’?!
This is a valuable lesson when thinking about the borderline insane greed that we in the west succumb to over the Festive period, but the concept of aparigraha extends beyond material possession. You could apply aparigraha to any sense of craving, ownership or hoarding. For example, expectation of benefit or reward when doing something good, rather than giving without needing anything in return.
The virtue of aparigraha is about only taking what you need, what is truly necessary for your life. This is not only humbling but also a key step in realising that everything you need to make you happy, is already within you. The other best thing about letting things go, is the space you make space for the new, opening up a whole world of possibility and change.
So what are the best ways to practice aparigraha?
- Do you really need it?
Your possessions are eating away space within your home and within your pocket, as well as distracting you away from what actually matters. So how about just not buying the next thing you don’t really need? And, if you really do need it, how about choosing to let another of your possessions go and giving it to someone else?
- Breathe it all out
Held tension in the body can often be released using a slow deep exhale. Genuinely relaxing, try 3 deep breaths next time you find yourself getting stressed out. Aparigraha – letting go of that which does not serve you (and tension definitely doesn’t!)
- Self care
Learn to know when you need time out. When life becomes overwhelming, everything starts to go wrong. Being controlling over our loved ones, being clingy or needy with those who makes us feel secure or holding on to grudges or disagreements because we’re burned out are all signs of needing some self-care. Instead of all that, learn to self care. This is the most practical thing you can do to get yourself back on track and get happy. Then you can get back to making others happy! When you’re feeling stressed out and anxious, Why not book a massage or relaxing facial in our luxury spa and let our wonderful therapists take real care of you for a change.
- Forgive and Accept
This one’s a tricky one as we find it hard to let go of our hurt, but it’s another opportunity to practice aparigraha. Painful memories often mean prevent us from being able to forgive, but it’s important to accept what life has given us, knowing our experiences can make us stronger if we don’t harbour the pain. There is serious liberation and growth in being able to move forward and leaving the past in the past, completely and fully.
Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones! Register when you are spiralling into old habits of blame, jealousy, anger, complaints and hate and stop them in their tracks. Remind yourself of what you want in life – manifesting on negativity will not serve you in the long run!
- Share all your good stuff around
There is very little as rewarding as giving to others. Share your talents strengths, attention, contacts, time and donate what you can to the needy. If you have plenty, feel the joy of giving. If you don’t have much, feel the joy of giving 😉
Use your yoga practice as a way of letting go. On the mat is one of the best ways to leave your stresses, jobs, roles, feelings behind and enjoy the essence of a yoga practice – to just be, with full acceptance and compassion. A good practice can encompass almost all of the above in one hit so you save time and effort ;). Join a class with one of our knowledgeable and caring yoga teacher souls here at Mary Ann Weeks and learn more about the fascinating wonderful transformative practice of yoga.