Take what you need and leave the rest. Your true self seeks a deeper meaning than most of the stuff we covet in our lives.
Aparigraha, non-greed or non-possessiveness, is the ability to let go. It is the fifth and last of the Yamas or social code of ethics from the eight limbs of Yoga.
Aparigraha teaches us to take only what we need. It reminds us that all of our possessions are only that—things that take up space in our homes and minds. More and more things, taking up more and more space and energy in our life.
In these days of fast fashion and online shopping we can have almost anything we want with the click of a button. Social media fuels our desires for what we don’t have and jealousy for those who do. We have been made to feel like we are never good enough—and if only we had this one more thing it would solve all of our problems.
The irony is, we know better. We see through the illusions of marketing. We know every beautiful model has been airbrushed, that the perfect family photo on facebook is only reflective of a moment in time. Yet we still fall victim to that little voice in our head telling us that we aren’t enough as we are. This downward spiral is the opposite of Yoga.
The practice of Yoga, including the poses, breathwork, meditation and following the Yamas and Niyamas rebuilds this union of self: mind,
body, spirit. Yoga connects us to our Self. Our true Self within, deep in our hearts, a vessel of love and light. With a regular practice, we experience this connection and our need for validation from the external world drops away. We are enough.
On the other hand, when we are disconnected from Self, we feel isolated. The ego mind takes over and we perceive the world through “small s” self, which is ever changing. A world where we are constantly trying to keep up, looking outside of our Self to prove our self-worth.
And how do we satisfy this? With things. More and more things. Our addiction to the collection of things temporarily fills our emotional hole and gives us the dopamine hit we are craving. The reality is, if we took a moment just to breathe, to consider why we feel that our wants are needs and what value this is really bringing to our life, we might be quite surprised at what we find.
So, do we become a renunciate and give away all of our possessions?
No. But, in following aparigraha we begin to take a closer look at what is behind the desire. Buy the beautiful dress, the latest phone, the expensive gym membership. Honestly, it’s okay. Interact with the world and support the economy, but in the process consider these ideas:
- Why do I want it?
- Why do I think I need it?
- Who am I trying to impress?
- Can I afford it?
- Will I actually use it?
- Do I already have something similar?
- Can I borrow it?
- Why will acquiring this make me feel better?
- What will I do with it once I no longer have use for it?
And at the end of the day remember: things are just things, you can’t take them with you. Namasté.
More Inspiration: Check out this insightful article on loving oneself.
Author: Lisa Greenbaum, E-RYT 500 and C-IAYT yoga therapist, has worked with countless individuals by using yoga to release trauma, find ease from chronic pain and tension and develop a deeper connection to Self: mind, body and spirit. She has over 750 hours of yoga education and logged 4,000+ teaching hours. She is also a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer with canfitpro, and a Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) Global Ambassador.