Patanjali is a revered saint who is thought to be the first to systemise the path of yoga by writing 196 sutras (verses) outlining the philosophy and practice of classical yoga.
These scriptures outline the 8 limbed path of yoga, also referred to as Ashtanga (ashta = eight & anga=limb) and are thought to date back as far as 2200 - 2500 years.
The first limb of the 8 fold path is the Yamas, meaning our observances and attitudes in the external world. And one of the branches of this limb is Aparigraha meaning non-attachment or non-possessiveness (a = non & parigraha = to amass). To contemplate aparigraha is to bring awareness to and release what is no longer serving us.
The practice of aparigraha can be applied to all aspects of our lives and I've outlined a few examples below:
How we approach our yoga practice
Have you ever rolled out your mat amped to have a blissed out two hour yoga practice? only to find that once you start, your body is heavy, you have no energy and after 20 minutes you are done? or perhaps you have gone to a class exhausted expecting to spend most of your practice in childs pose but you have a really strong and focussed practice?
Next time you go to spend time on your mat, set an intention to remain fully present and connected to yourself using your breath as your primary focus. With no attachment to how 'well' you will do. Enjoy your practice purely for the joy of moving your body without any specific goals.
Focus on the task at hand and not the outcome. Give freely without expecting any reward.
Yoga is an infinite path, it is a journey with no final destination.
Material objects can weigh us down, physically and energetically. How many items do you have in your wardrobe that you no longer wear? or perhaps several items that look almost identical? hoarding possessions indicates that we have a fear that we won't be able to provide for ourselves in the future.
Soon after beginning my path towards becoming a yoga teacher, I cleared out my wardrobe and took 15 bags of clothes to charity! When I was travelling the world, I had a rule where if I was to accumulate any item of clothing, then I had to let go of an existing item to make space for the new. After carrying a heavy bag around in foreign places, you soon realise what is no longer serving you and it becomes easy to lighten your load!
So perhaps next time you go to buy something new, ask yourself if you really need it, or are you filling a void? if you really need the item, perhaps there is something you can pass on to someone else to keep the energy of abundance moving freely.
Have faith that if you take only what you need in this moment that the universe will always provide in the future.
Our ego, mind and 'our stories'
How many of you are aware of your self sabotage tendencies? life is trucking along nicely and then you do something to screw it all up? I used to do this all the time when I used to binge drink. I'd feel like I was in a really good place and brimming with excitement for the future and then I would go to a party, drink too much, black out, not remember anything and spend the next week anxious, ashamed and full of self loathing. BTW giving up drinking was the best attachment I ever let go of!
Perhaps you are using your stories to hold you back because this feels safe and familiar.
Next time you are plagued with negative thoughts, remind yourself that they are not you, they are just your thoughts! Do they really serve you? other than to hold you back? often these thoughts are driven from fear. Ask yourself if this fear is justified then face it straight on and stand up to it!
Ideas and planning
This has been my biggest lesson in aparigraha this year. As I write this blog, it's the month of July and earlier this year I had planned to be in Portugal for the European summer and Sri Lanka in November, but I've had to let these plans go. As circumstances have arised that have altered my plans, instead of fighting and resisting I've been consciously surrendering to a higher power, having faith that all is as it should be.
So remembering that the only constant in life is change, I would love to hear your comments on how you approach aparigraha in your lives.
Love Lili x