Practicing Aparigraha.

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Aparigraha – the yogic concept of non-possessiveness and non-hoarding – is the “last” of the five yamas, and often one of the most difficult to recognize and overcome. On the surface level, the idea of “non-hoarding” generally means “stop buying things you don’t need”. Okay, easy enough…until there’s a clearance sale at your favorite store and the last thing on your mind is aparigraha, of all things. When you start to break down the idea of “non-possessiveness”, however, it becomes apparent that possessions aren’t always material belongings. What about the ideas you possess about yourself? About others? About the world?

Sometimes I catch myself getting bitter about certain things that I feel as if I’m simply “giving away”. My time, my energy, and my efforts all seem unappreciated. I hold on to these things because I feel as though they are an integral part of who I am. Recently, I read a quote that said, “All that is given is not lost”. And I understood that when I feel like I’m giving too much, that usually means I need to give more. It is when the act of giving makes me a better person (and thus, the world around me) that aparigraha comes into play.

Similarly, when I find myself tired or low on energy, sometimes that translates into being moody and morose. My “concept” of what a good yogini should be does not include someone who snaps at her mother on the phone, or frowns at everyone she encounters on the street. On days when I find myself in a particularly bad mood, I begin to get angry at myself for being an angry person. The more I identify with my thoughts and feelings, the angrier I feel. The solution? Aparigraha, of course! Non-hoarding. It’s that simple.

As Rolf Gates aptly puts it, “The energy we expend defending unhealthy attachments could be spent making the world a better place”. So what did I learn today? I learned that giving doesn’t always mean losing, and that letting everything go is almost always the best option of all.

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anonymous Jan 11, 2013 6:42pm

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anonymous Apr 11, 2010 4:27pm

Thank you for your post. You have given and shared here and I love it!

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Julia Lee

Julia is a yoga teacher, lover of all things, and dedicated student of life. She strives to be open to whatever the universe throws her way and practice her yoga off the mat at all times. Julia believes that the best lessons can often be found in the most unusual places. She writes about her experiences at julialeeyoga.com and on Twitter @julialeeyoga.