How to incorporate Aparigraha (non-attachment) in our lives

I've been thinking today about the yogic concept of Aparigraha - non-attachment or non-clinging. Aparigraha is one of the Yamas - the ethical guidelines found in the Yoga Sutras. Attachment can take many forms -- holding on to fixed ideas of how things should be, coveting what someone else has, wanting relationships to work out a certain way. Sometimes the past makes itself known in a very present way, and it's our inability to let go that causes us pain. Or maybe we're stuck on material possessions, and finding value in accumulating things that, in the end, are just that... things.

Regardless of the form it takes, this kind of attachment can prevent us from growing because it holds us down and takes us out of the present moment. Instead of being with what's happening in front of us, we're stuck reaching for what's gone, or our ideas of what we want for the future. And this leaves us resistant to change and closed off from new possibilities.

If you want to go really deep with it, this grasping is illusory at root because the "I" that's trying to hold on is just the personal ego, which is itself an illusion of separateness. When we're able to find perspective and experience our interconnectedness with all things, there's no need to hold onto feelings that isolate us.

BUT -- how? How do we let go of these comforts, these histories and longings, that so dominate our interior lives at times? What to do when your world is turned upside down and your understanding of what you thought you knew is shaken? It's one thing to talk about being unattached and something completely different to live that way. Because hearts get attached. Minds want consistency. And we all want security. The solution isn't always simple or easy.

But it can start simply. Take deep breaths and little meditative moments. Intentionally take in your surroundings and make a practice of appreciating them as they are -- maybe start with flowers, trees, natural things. Notice in your yoga practice where your energy is stuck -- maybe your breath is constricted, or your shoulders are tense, your jaw is clenched, your toes are gripping in a way they don't need to. See if you can relax and soften physically, and see what that does for your heart and mind.

And... this is a big one! FORGIVE. Holding on to old wounds only gives them power to keep hurting you. Forgiveness is a major practice by itself, but letting go of hurt is a big step forward. Forgive others as much as you can. And, even more importantly, forgive yourself. Because, in the end, what you are is an endless source of love, a manifestation of the divine. And you deserve all the beauty and joy this world has to offer. So let go, and let yourself experience it.


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