We all tend to hold onto things we do not need, whether it be material possessions, relationships or thoughts about ourselves. In yogic terms the practice of non-grasping/non-possessiveness is known as Aparigraha. Yoga philosophy teaches us to accept what we have and to be mindful when giving and receiving. There is a great quote by Swami Vivekananda: "It is not the receiver who is blessed but rather the giver."
Why Let Go?
Grasping too tight to things prevents change. When you can let go of things that no longer serve you, you make space for new things to enter your life. This could be new ideas, new goals, new relationships or new healthier ways to live. I was reading an article online the other day titled: 'Why a Zulu with no mortgage is happier than you'. The article is all about why people with less possessions seem to be happier. It’s true you know, I remember when I was travelling around Central and South America watching kids play. Often there would be about 5-10 kids all playing with one toy (truck, bike...whatever), they would wait patiently for their turn and when it was, man oh man, the look of joy on their face was amazing, you couldn’t help but smile. These kids didn’t have many material possessions but they had more fun than I had seen any kid with a room full of toys have!
Letting Go of Things
So why does having less equate to having more? In terms of material things and wealth, why can’t we just accumulate as much as we possibly can? Well, simply put, you will never be happy, there will always be someone with more. This is the ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’ concept, enough will never be enough, you may even tie yourself to a job you hate just to obtain these things. Objects can be damaged, lost or destroyed, when we are attached to them we will be upset if we lose or damage them. The fact is, physical objects aren’t permanent. It’s hard in today’s society where we are bombarded at every turn with advertising about a new product we MUST have, but in reality...YOU DON’T. Aparigraha doesn’t just relate to material things, it’s also about letting go of ideas, or people, or even the past.
Letting Go of Thoughts
Everyone has their own ‘story’ thoughts or beliefs about who we are. These are shaped by our past and affect how we interact with the world in the present. They can make us avoid people or situations that may hurt us; they can also make us hold onto people or situations that are not good for us. We can hang on to ineffective ways of communicating or relating to another human being. We can also just straight out hang on to a relationship that has run its course. We can also ask too much of another person, as humans we have an innate tendency to want more, more, more! In this case we are running the risk of not only hurting the other person but also hurting ourselves. It’s hard to be able to recognise when we have to let go of someone or something. However, if it no longer serves us; or we are just hanging on because we are greedy or we don’t want to feel bad, then we don’t allow room in our lives to grow and move forward. So...how do we practice this concept of Aparigraha?
5 Tips to Help You Let Go
- Let Go: Your possessions take up space and energy; we rarely NEED everything we own. So, look around your house, what are you clinging to that you have no use for? Kitchen appliances you never use? Mementos you never look at? Get rid of them, donate and free up some space in your life.
- Assess Before You Buy: Every time you are about to buy something new, pause. Ask yourself, is this a need or a want? Do you need that 6th black top; do you need 10 pairs of jeans? Is the latest moisturiser going to work better than the one you have and really take 10 years off your appearance? Advertising is everywhere, and they are paid to make us buy things we can do without.
- Forgive Yourself & Others: Release past hurts, either that you have caused yourself or that others have done to you. Anger only hurts you, not the person it is aimed at (unless it’s yourself!). Free yourself by forgiving those that who have hurt you and forgive yourself.
- Give: To get more out of life, give! This could be time, money, your expertise or love. You can volunteer, donate or make time for the loved ones in your life.
- Think and Be Positive: Clinging to negative thoughts, emotions, or memories, only attracts more of the same into your life. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones to create more harmony and attract more happiness into your world. This can also apply to your yoga mat, is there a pose that you think you ‘can’t’ do? Next time, release that negative thought and approach it with an open mind, give it a go, you just might surprise yourself.
Aparigraha pretty much goes against how most people in today’s society live, we consume, consume, consume. However, think about this, it is the one thing that if we practice, would have a massive impact on not only our happiness but the world and the environment. If we all practice non-possession we would change the way we relate to each other and material things. The way we do business would change, we would consume less. As a result the impact on the environment, our very global footprint would lessen. Clinging to stuff takes time and energy to maintain, so strip down to the essentials, get rid of clutter in the house and in the mind. If you can rid yourself of attachment, you will be able to see more clearly and identify what it is you really need.
Western Wellness Team
(Your friendly neighbourhood yogis)