“By the observance of aparigraha, the yogi makes his life as simple as possible and trains his mind not to feel the loss or the lack of anything. Then everything he really needs will come to him by itself at the proper time.” –B.K.S. Iyengar
Aparigraha is the sanskrit word that means non-hoarding or non-attachment. It is a word I have used often in yoga class to encourage students to trust that the Universe will provide and to, therefore, let go of attachments we clutch to. On the mat, it is about letting go of our attachment to the poses; to how we think the pose should look. For example, when we let go of how trikonasana, triangle pose, should look (assuming correct alignment), we may find a new sense of liberation on the mat. What if I don't feel like stretching my top arm to the sky? Maybe my shoulder wants to relax with the top arm dropped behind my back...and then, ohhh, the ribs suddenly open a little more, as does the heart energy and it is new.
I like the word, aparigraha; it's fun to say. I have recently felt like clearing stuff out of my house to create space. That is aparigraha. My daughter backed into my car and I my breath never faltered. That's because of aparigraha. However, yesterday, I had a momentary lapse from my yogi mind and lost my temper. Why? Because, I had been inconvenienced when I was in the right. Yes, I know, bad move. Attachment to being right is also a form of hoarding/hanging on to things. And, guess what? I became really mad and the entire insides of my body changed. My blood pressure went up, my cheeks flushed, my heart rate increased and it took me about 20 minutes to calm down. Guess who suffered? Not the person who was "wrong" and couldn't change things, anyway. It was me. I created my own suffering. Without an attachment to being right, there is no despairing consequential result.
In the book, Life is a Verb, the author describes a technique her acupuncturist taught her about remembering the results of aparigraha. You imagine yourself sitting butt naked in a thorn bush. Every time you reach for something you think you want or must have, you feel yourself sinking deeper into the thorns.
Your homework is to sit and breathe and focus on the exhale. You cannot hoard an inhale; you will explode! Allowing yourself to release the breath creates space inside; space needed to invite in fresh air (and maybe a fresh attitude!)
THE BUMBLE BEE
by Marybeth Fidler
a bumblebee flies into my apartment
it didn't mean to be there
and seeing the outside through a glass window
it proceeds to push and push against the glass trying to get where it wants to go
in its panic never moving from its task long enough
to see the open window just inches away
how like the bumble bee I am in my work or my life
i see where i want to go
and in my panic
i forget to look for the open window
so i push and push and push
thinking i should be rewarded for all this hard work
when, in fact, i am so frantic
like the bee against the glass.