Nothing

While celibacy seemed extreme for the previous Yama,  our very last one, Aparigraha, may just seem impossible. Simply put, do not be attached to anything.

In its simplest form, it asks us to not be greedy. This sutra is sometimes translated as non-hoarding or non-greed, but perhaps its most common translation is non-attachment. In a more profound sense, it’s instructing us to let go of our attachment to everything. And be okay with it.

Your stuff, your pets, your children, your thoughts, your beliefs, even your body.

Let’s unpack these.
  • STUFF: Not being greedy with things seems quite doable and even noble. Take only what you need. Right Now. Not for someday. How many ‘things’ do you have that you just might need someday? At its core, Aparigraha is asking you to consider that those things you’re holding onto may be able to serve someone else right now. Do you really plan to wear your high school jeans again or take up origami?
  • PETS: Aren’t pets the best teachers for letting go? Their lifespans are so much shorter than ours and nearly everyone has experienced the heart-wrenching loss of a beloved pet. They teach us unconditional love and trust, making our bond with them even stronger and causing their loss to feel even more profound. Yet, we have to let go.
  • PEOPLE: This one feels ridiculous. Don’t get attached to my children? My parents? My spouse? Perhaps this is best viewed through the lens of allowing rather than letting go. We bring into our lives those who have the most to teach us about ourselves, which presents us with challenges almost daily. Allowing the other person to be who they are, quirks and all, is a form of non-attachment. We are not seeking to change them, or control them. We love them deeply, and we allow them to be who they are, thereby allowing them to grow into who they are meant to be.
  • THOUGHTS AND BELIEFS: We understand more and more how much our thoughts create our reality. Perhaps this would be the best place to begin practicing non-attachment. Not letting go of thoughts, necessarily, but watching them with curiosity and a little space. Wondering where that thought or belief came from. Considering the beliefs of others. And, perhaps the best work we can do here, is letting go of expectations. Yogi Amrit Desai is known to say, “The only problem we have is wanting things to be different than the way they are.” Plan, set goals, work toward those goals, but let go of the outcome. Allowing it to evolve organically will likely bring more rewards than forcing it to be what you imagined.
  • BODY: How does one not attach to their physical form, yet remain alive? This aspect of Aparigraha is the depth of non-attachment. Trust the process of birth, life, death, rebirth. The body already dies on a regular basis, organs replace themselves over time, wounds heal, the breath is life and death itself. Loving the body without attachment allows you, the passenger, to make sound decisions about its health and well-being. The body will decay and die. This is not news. You are consciousness and that can never be destroyed. Your energy is eternal. Know, on a soul level, that you are consciousness itself so YOU can never be destroyed. Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., a cell biologist has a really beautiful analogy for consciousness and death in his book, The Biology of Belief. He compares the human body to a television set. And you to a program on television. When the TV ‘dies,’ the program does not.


Practicing Aparigraha is a life-long endeavor, much like yoga itself. Step by step, we can begin by letting go of some physical stuff, purging, donating objects that would better serve someone else. Then, we can let go of our attachments to certain ideas or beliefs, allowing for the ideas and opinions of others. Maybe we let go of expectation and anticipation, greatly reducing our personal stress. Then the bigger stuff won’t seem so overwhelming. Practicing non-attachment is truly liberating. When we let go of attachments, we lay ourselves wide open to receive the abundance that is always available to us.

 

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