In the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, the yamas are the first limb of the eight limbs of Raja yoga. They, along with the Nyamas are the ethical guidelines, the Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga.
अपरिग्रह – aparigraha
Sutra 2.39, 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 lives swamij
Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness, Not being greedy. Taking only what is necessary for you to live. Aparigraha can also be translated as “non-attachment”, letting go and not clinging, clutching or grasping.
It’s about living your life in a balanced state of being, present in the moments as they come, with what you have right now and only with what you really need. It’s the balance we’re looking for.
If you choose to give up all you own, no possessions, have no where to live and no idea where your next meal is coming from, just letting the universe provide, then you are taking the idea of aparigraha too far. But if you cling to possessions, or identify your self with the things you own, always trying to always ‘keep up with the Jones’, acquiring far more than you will ever need or use, that too is a life out of balance.
We’re not talking about just objects and possessions, but to feelings, emotions, and memories as well. When we hold on to past identities of who we once were, we stay trapped in the past. Clinging desperately to the things, ideas, accomplishments and failures that we identify with as who we are is an unbalanced way to live. The flip side to that is if you live in a fantasy world, of what might happen or could be or if you live with the idea of ‘only if ‘ then you are grasping at that unknown future. Always rushing to get somewhere else than where you are. When you can’t be in this moment, respecting where you are right now, you miss the moments of your life.
When my 3 sons were very young, my husband went away, we weren’t really poor, we certainly had plenty of “things”. When he left I had 2 houses, 2 cars, more furniture than I knew what to do with and a basement full of boxes filled with memorabilia…..to reference George Carlin, My Stuff. Both of the houses were mortgaged to the hilt; both cars had loans on them and I had made the choice to stay home with my children for 14 years so I had few, if any marketable skills. I had no savings, no cash, nothing. Oh but I drove a red Cadillac. I was learning a lot about myself in those days, and I thought I was doing ‘ok’, we had moved into the smaller of the two houses, taking just the basic things we needed and moved the rest of our stuff in the basement of the other house. When the day came and I finally sold the other house with the basement full of stuff, I was given 15 days to move out my things. But on day 5 I went to the house I discovered the new owners had hauled all of my ‘things’ off to the dump. All of it! Everything was gone, tools, toys, boxes of clothes, books, all the important papers we’re always told we need to keep, all of it gone, except an antique desk and a rather large grapevine wreath I had made. Of all the things that I had to be angry about, and believe you me there was plenty, this took the prize. I felt violated. It took me a long time to get past the anger at losing my things, my stuff. But in time I realized that the universe had given me an amazing gift, the opportunity to live simply again to return to the days of enjoying people not possessions. Of loving life, not things. I try to remember the lessons of those days that possessions and things are transitory and that memories are best stored in the heart.
So my definition of Aparigraha is this;
The ability to remember where you’ve been without staying stuck in the past, to appreciate what you have and not worry about that which you don’t, to love where the journey of life is taking you, without to many worries about how you’ll get there.