Aparigraha and Letting Go.
Have you ever heard yourself ask this question, “Why does this keep happening to me?” I know I have—many, many, many times—mostly in the past, before I re-committed to my yoga practice, and was less…well, self-aware, shall we say. This question has surfaced less often lately due to the personal work I’ve been doing, but I suddenly found myself stuck in this uncomfortable position again recently. I caught myself wondering, “How have I become the victim yet again? Why is this person treating me this way? Don’t they see how amazing and wonderful I am? Why do I continue to get involved with the same type of people who just want to use me?”
As with most replies I have been receiving since starting my daily meditation practice, I found the answer within. What am I doing (or not doing) that is attracting this behavior? What am I seeing in this person (who I perceive as treating me poorly) that I need to work on in myself? What is it that I need to let go of?
Ultimately, it was the latter question that brought me to the solution on this occasion. I discovered that I was still attached to an idea that I needed to surrender. The idea that anyone or anything outside of my Creator and myself can bring me lasting happiness and fulfillment.
I thought I had learned this lesson almost a year and a half ago when I unearthed the discovery of infidelity in my marriage, only two months after our wedding day. I was beaten down and broken open by this experience to the point that I knew I could never again allow a man (or any human being for that matter) to be my Higher Power, my Universe, my everything (something I had grown into believing in this particular relationship, unbeknownst to me and my better judgment).
Aparigraha is one of the five Yamas, or rules of social behavior underneath the umbrella of the eight limbs of yoga, and it encompasses the principles of non-hoarding, non-possessiveness and non-attachment. I have made peace with non-attachment in the realm of material possessions, but emotional attachments are a completely different story for me.
I consider myself a very emotional and sensitive being and find it difficult to not naturally get attached to people I love and care about. However, when I become emotionally attached, I have the tendency to put people on a pedestal and create expectations, and when I put people on a pedestal and create expectations, I will always set myself up to be hurt. We are all human and as humans, we are fallible…and no one is exempt—even (and especially) our significant others. The quicker I accept this, the happier I will be.
I will continue to be presented with the same situations and forced to learn the same lesson until I truly get “it.” The same events and situations will keep “happening” to me until I learn the lesson that they are not actually “happening” to me at all—I am creating them. In some shape or form, big or small, glaringly evident or slyly subtle, I have a part in whatever I think is causing my unhappiness. When I accept this, take responsibility for my part, reject blaming others and surrender to the fact that I am not really in charge of anyone or anything but myself (my reactions, my behavior, my attitudes), I can be free.
It is a constant and rigorous process, but one I am ever grateful to be made aware of. Because with this awareness comes freedom from the bonds of the past, freedom from judgment, freedom from giving other people the power of controlling my emotions, freedom to evolve into the authentic person I was created to be.
“No one outside you can give you anything of value. Be alive to yourself in all your joys and grief. Harsh reality is a window to sweet liberation.”
~ Author Unknown
Abby Vernon is a yoga lifer, writer, new yoga teacher, green drinker, hip-hop enthusiast, fun haver, survivor, semi-feminist, former bad girl. Open to everything…except that. Follow her on Twitter @YoginiAbby or keep up with her on her blog www.yoginiforlife.blogspot.com.
Editor: Sara McKeown
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