This is the last of the Yamas. Next I will move on to the second part of Deborah’s book about Niyamas, or observances. For the last 2 weeks I’ve been using Deborah’s Questions for Exploration to guide me in my practice of Aparigraha, or non-possessiveness. (Aparigraha can also be interpreted as non-attachment, non-greed, non-clinging, non-grasping, and non-coveting.)
Her suggestions for working with this Yama are as follows….
- Use the act of inhaling and exhaling to teach you about, “…the fullness of breathing in life without the need to hold on to it”.
- Observe the physical items you have surrounded yourself with. Do those things make you feel “free and light…or heavy”?
- “…notice where you impose your expectations on people and things, unconsciously demanding they give you the usual fulfillment and comfort. How do your expectations keep you limited and often disgruntled?” (BIGGIE!)
- “…notice where you cling to experiences, emotions, thoughts, habits, and beliefs….begin to let go.”
She gave us a lot to work with! For the sake of ease, I’ll go in order….
1. I honestly didn’t find this exercise very successful. I like the idea, but something about this just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I still need to look at it from a different perspective.
2. This one really resonated with me. I HATE clutter. There are weeks when I’m so busy that stuff piles up in different areas of the house (usually my desk is a big one) and when I finally have time to stop and really look at the mess I realize how anxious I’ve been feeling because of clutter. Everybody has clutter, especially parents. It happens, you get busy, life happens. No big deal. Even if it sits there for a few days while you get your feet under you, or recuperate if you’ve been sick, it’s not the end of the world. What I find to be really disheartening is living in a constant state of clutter. :::insert shivers here:::
I truly believe that if you live in a cluttered space, your mind will be cluttered too. I know this to be more true for some people more than others, but I do think this is the case for everyone. Even if you think the clutter doesn’t bother you, make a concerted effort to keep at least your sleep and work space clean, organized, and clutter free for 2 weeks. After the 2 weeks, go back to your normal clutter-placing habits and see how it makes you feel. 🙂
And I know that not everyone will apply Aparigraha to clutter, and that’s ok. I also think that having too much “stuff” (aka clutter!) will weigh you down. I don’t like “stuff”. I’m not a knick-knack collector. Even on vacation I try to buy souvenirs that are useful. Coffee mugs (aka pen cups!), and magnets are my usual fair. Swarovski crystal-type sit-around things are my biggest nightmare! Now this isn’t to say I don’t have a few cutesy things, but ultimately, if they were to be lost or broken I wouldn’t really be upset. I think in this aspect of Aparigraha I’ve got it down!
3. For this one, expectations of people and things….yes, I need to work on this. In college I used to say, “I always expect the worst so when it happens I don’t get disappointed”. Holy. Shit. Really? If the person I am now met the person I was back then I think I might have slapped her. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you expect bad shit to happen to you, guess what, bad shit will probably happen. If you expect to see and meet miserable people, you will. You see what you look for. If you expect to see happy people and have strangers return your smile, the chances of getting that smile in return are higher. I write this a lot on Instagram (@enthusiastic_yogini) so why not here, “If you look for the Magic, you WILL find it”. Sometimes it will find you. What I’m trying to say is, wake up and expect great things. If it doesn’t happen or you have a bad day, breathe through it, practice Ahimsa towards yourself and others and let it go.
Ok, lastly for this one, expectations of people. I’ve been working on my expectations of things, situations, and my day as a whole, but I know I still have some work to do on my expectations of people. More specifically, 2 people: my toddler and husband. Expectations of toddlers? Groan. I honestly think the best expectation of her is to have none. But alas, I do. I’ve been working on my reactions to her behaviors as well. For me it’s not just about managing my expectations of her, but managing my thoughts, feelings, and reactions towards her when she doesn’t meet my expectations. Does that count? If I’m not yelling, if I silently count to 10 before I ask her a second time to do something, if I breathe instead of curse in my head, I think I’m making progress. Every day is different, but small steps are better than none at all.
4. “…notice where you cling to experiences, emotions, thoughts, habits, and beliefs….begin to let go.” Letting go of habits and beliefs is a big theme for me recently. Some habits and beliefs are good. They make our days run smoothly, they frame our outlooks, and they give us structure, which is something our brain needs. However, when these emotions, habits, and beliefs limit us and limit our experiences, that’s when we need to practice letting go.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao Tzu
I have that quote written on a post-it and taped up in my car. I actually like who I am, but labels can be confining and rather than clinging to a label of who you are, who you think you are, or who you want to be, just let go and be. What happens when the box you’ve created for yourself no longer fits? You must let go again. Maybe it will be easier not to wrap yourself up in that box in the first place? Just a thought.
This will be my last post on the Yamas and Niyamas for a few weeks. On August 7th I leave for Vancouver, BC for my Blissology Teacher Training with Eoin Finn! I’m so excited and don’t know what to expect. Guess I should just practice Aparigraha and not have any 😉 Depending on how busy I am I’d like to blog about my experiences during YTT.
Thank you for reading! Much Love and Light. <3