SSE Week 06: Aparigraha
Introduction to Aparigraha
This week’s topic is the fifth and final yama, aparigraha, or nonhoarding/non-possessiveness. Like every other yama we’ve discussed, the meat of aparigraha lies far below and beyond the simple state of not owning too much stuff. Aparigraha is about material possessions, yes, but it’s also about thoughts and opinions, abuse of power, money, and even respecting the flow of dialogue.
Nicolai Bachman, author of our authoritative text, The Path of the Yoga Sutras, says aparigraha’s main antagonist is the EGO (with emphasis added):
“Our ego feeds on grasping. The ego constructs our identity and can hold us hostage to our belongings. The ego thinks that we are our body, our mind, and our thoughts and feelings. When it subjugates our inner intelligence, it literally possesses us. As we accumulate material goods, fame, fortune, and so on, our ego becomes stronger. When we step back and realize how shallow these identifications are, that they are based on outer quantities instead of inner qualities, then it is time to reverse our course and turn inward, away from this superficial existence.”
Aparigraha, in my experience, is often glazed over, or not given as much attention as the rest of the yamas, in my opinion, because the majority of people aren’t extreme hoarders living in a dire situation, both physically and mentally/emotionally. It’s not a very relatable thing. And since it involves asking the ego to check itself, it’s even less so.
But aparigraha is EXTREMELY relevant to all of our lives, simply because we live in the world and time we do. Not only is this exemplified by the chaos of black Friday, or the automatic NEED to grab the latest iPhone as soon as it’s released; it plays out in bigger, much more terrifying scenarios gripping the entire world. Right now (late June, 2020). I’ll close with another paragraph from Bachman’s book, which beautifully illustrates how much our world needs more practice with aparigraha:
“Aparigraha also suggest not controlling other people when there is a power differential [….] Hoarding power is a distortion of the ego and always leads to corruption and unethical behavior. Aparigraha implies sharing power by listening to other people and acting in a cooperative rather than dictatorial manner.”
Home Exercise: Aparigraha
This week, I challenge you to let go of five possessions.
This week’s exercise is one of releasing the physical objects that hold us in place. It doesn’t matter what the objects are; how big or small; cheap or pricey; gifted or purchased.
Choose five items to donate.
Grab a bag, pack them up, and drop them off. Immediately.
Then, head over to our private members only FB page and share what you shed and how you feel!
“The more stuff we have on the outside, the less time we have to go inside.”
– The Path of the Yoga Sutras
Watch this Week’s Video
Bring Aparigraha into Practice
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