Yoga emphasizes a focus on things that cannot be lost, such as putting positive intentions and actions into the world. Yet even yogis get caught in the web of attachment, despite our practices of letting goand going within to our true selves.
When following the eight-fold path of yoga, we encounter the yama Aparighraha, which can be translated as “non hoarding, non possessiveness, and/or non attachment.” This includes not just material possessions, but our attachments to people and circumstances.
How can you tell if you are embracing aparigraha or not?
Here are six ways to get a sense of how controlled we are by material attachments:
1. Do you decide on what house or apartment to take based on whether your furniture will fit, or look good in it?
2. Do you stay in a job simply because it pays enough to cover your current debt and living expenses?Do you stay in a job that causes you unhappiness because of the financial payoff?
3. When you park your car, do you worry that someone may scratch or dent it?
4. If you were in a divorce or break up, was there a debate over who got certain possessions?
5. When you go to a convenience store for a particular item, do you leave with way more items in your cart than you intended to buy?
6. Do you judge someone’s success by the house, car, or pocketbooks he or she owns?
Chances are you may have experienced one of these six simple indicators of attachment.
So now what?
How can we embrace this yama and be one step closer to truly living our yoga?
1. Begin to assess the true function of the things you have. For example, contemplate what objects allow you to live a comfortable, safe and healthy life, and attain only those objects whenever possible. Instead of thinking of possessions as status symbols or something that represents our success, think of them as simple tools that allow us to accomplish our goals in life.
2. Shop secondhand. Let go of the idea that new is better, which is a belief created by the media in order to get you to buy new products.
3. Look to understand a person’s thoughts and motivations, as opposed to judging him only be external circumstances.
4. When you no longer need something, pass it on to someone who does.
5. Remember that aparigraha implies that we should focus on what cannot be lost – our spiritual journey, and what we put out to others and to the world. In one word, love.