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.