YAMAS AND NIYAMAS – 11.25.14 (APARIGRAHA – How Many Bags?)

I’m excited!  It’s vacation time!  I’m fortunate to head down to Myrtle Beach, SC a little later today with my amazing parents.  Mom decided it was time to try something a tad different for Thanksgiving and I’ll all for it.  So I’m faced with this question – just how many bags am I taking?

The question is both literal and metaphorical.  In the literal sense, I have yet to pack and am left with two potential tracks to follow.  Take everything that I “think” I will need during the trip or pack lightly with an openness to the moments that will transpire.  I can take as many of the possessions as possible, but how might that affect the trip?  Do I dare limit the amount of bags I pack or do I load up the Element?

In the metaphorical sense, I could easily pack my past, current and future thoughts.  I could take all three of those bags with me on the trip.  My past does help to provide a picture of who I have become, but it is the present moment that truly defines me.  Do I need to take my past and the vision I want for the future with me?

So as we embark later today, those questions and these come to my mind.  In the physical realm, do I need the weight of possessions during my trip?  In the metaphorical realm, do I need the weight of my past and the expectations of my future during my trip?  Pack light, leave the past and expectations, and enjoy the moment.  Sounds like a good mantra for the week.  Just some thoughts :).

Have a great time this holiday with friends and family!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Just How Many Bags are you Taking?

The day before we were to leave, I said, “Ashly, we have to make plans.”  “Grandma,” she said, “that’s the whole point of getting away; make it easy, don’t take anything, not even plans.”

I found myself stunned at the simplicity of her understanding of retreat time.  In my mind I reviewed the large amounts of packing and preparation that had always burdened my retreat time.  Exited at the opportunity, I leaped into this new challenge before me to “taking nothing with me.”

In fact, how many suitcases full of expectations, tasks, plans, resentments, and unforgiven moments was I toting around with me every day?  Even airlines know to charge a fine when we pack over the limit I thought to myself, and yet I wonder how many of us are packing over the limit every morning and wearying ourselves through the day with this heavy baggage?

This craziness we do to ourselves is as silly as if we carried a heavy load of bricks around all day and continued to add more to our pile.

Pack light for the journey.  Strip yourself to raw nakedness and vulnerability.  This is the invitation of nonpossessiveness.  Are we up to the unpacking?

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

YAMAS AND NIYAMAS – 11.11.14 (APARIGRAHA – Hanging in Mid-Air)

Yoga allows us to walk on a tight rope … so to speak.  Half moon, standing splits, tree and other such poses allow us to figuratively walk on that tight rope.  Hanging in mid-air.  The moment before we find ourselves floating, defying gravity, we have to let go.  Let go of the foundation we have on our mat.  Trust the physical body.

The beauty of Yoga is that it allows us to take our analogies to both the exterior and the interior.  The physical benefits we receive from balancing postures find improved coordination, increased strength and stability.  Balance poses provide emotional benefits like relieving stress, reducing tension and fatigue. They also help to improve focus, concentration and memory.  I bring up all of these benefits because we have to trust that they are waiting for us.  Balancing postures can be intimidating and move us from our comfort zone.  However, the benefits of letting go and attempting are so amazing.

Aparigraha gives us the opportunity to let go and find something in the present moment.  Reach and we may miss.  Grip too tightly and we may find ourselves stuck in the past.  Have the trust that the moment provides so much for our bodies and our minds.  Soak up the joys of a healthy body and soak up the calm of a healthy mind.  Fly with freedom just like a trapeze artist and live the life you imagined.

Hanging in Mid-Air

Much like the moment when the breath is completely exhaled, the trapeze artist has a moment when they are suspended in mid-air.  My understanding is that they have to let go of one bar and wait in mid-air for the next swinging bar to reach them.  If they hold on to the current bar, or reach for the next bar, their timing will be off and they will fall.  Instead, they must let go fully to be ready for the bar swinging towards them, trusting the timing of the swing and not their own effort to reach.

I’m not a trapeze artist, but my experience of letting go feels very much like being suspended in mid-air with nothing to hold on to.  It is raw, naked, vulnerable, and uncomfortable.

The practice of nonclinging is as free as swinging from bar to bar effortlessly, in perfect trust and perfect timing.  Any kind of holding too long or grasping too far forward in an effort to maintain a sense of security is deadly to our spiritual growth and the natural unfolding of our lives.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

YAMAS AND NIYAMAS – 11.3.14 (APARIGRAHA – The Breath as Teacher)

A new month finds us looking at the next personal ethic in Yoga, Aparigraha.  If we prefer to play with our toys, we have missed the point.  Aparigraha, or nonpossessiveness, can also be interpreted as nonattachment, nongreed, nonclinging, nongrasping, and noncoveting; we can simply think of it as being able to “let go.”

(Side Note – I still need to see that movie!)  Nonpossessiveness asks us to look at life as if it is on loan to us.  Each physical possession that comes our way will eventually become a possession of someone else.  We may cling to it tightly due to sentimental reasons or our own greed, but all physical possessions will move on to a new owner one day.  I still have the first teddy bear that was given to me.  It is extremely significant to me.  One day though, it will be passed on to another fortunate individual.  

As we gain possessions in our lives, there is a lot of freedom to be had at allowing them to serve others.  To me, this is the hardest personal ethic to stay consistent with.  I like my hockey jerseys, my road bike, my Honda Element, my Droid Turbo cell phone and other personal possessions.  How do I find the balance here?

I’ve also seen people lead double lives to simply please others through possessions.  We are all guilty of this to some degree.  How often do we make a purchase with the thought of how it will make someone feel towards us?  It simply leads to stress, frustration and wanting.  The freedom of aparigraha grants calm and allows us to enjoy the time that we have.  Hold on loosely …

(Had to balance out some Frozen with a splash of 38 Special)

The Breath as Teacher

What if we could trust life like we trust the breath?  What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and then let it go fully, trusting the more nourishment will come?  Like the breath when it is held too long, the things that nourish us can become toxic.

When we experience the completeness of being loved, the satisfaction of a superb meal, the acknowledgment of work well done, we can easily want to hold on these moments and never let them go.  But it is the nature of things to change and by failing to let them change or move on, they begin to disappoint us and our attempts to hold on begin to make us stale and discontent.  What we try to possess, possesses us.

Aparigraha invites us to practice divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then to let go so the next thing can come.  The nature of the realm of Aparigraha is impermanence.  Everything changes.  Nothing stays the same.

If we can fall back to the breath and watch the belly rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation, we can feel the truth of the transience of all things.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele

Donation-Based Class – 6.28.14 (Tricia Creasey Foundation)

I was privileged to teach a donation-based class this morning for the Tricia Creasey Foundation.  There was an amazing energy throughout the class.  Below is the meditation …

“What if we could trust life like we trust the breath?  What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and then let it go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come?

Just like the breath gives us nourishment, so does life in the form of homes, work, relationships, routines that bring ease, beliefs, stances, and images of ourselves.  There is nourishment until we get attached to these things, often unconsciously, and then disturb ourselves with expectations, opinions, criticisms, disappointments, all because we forget to trust life, exhale, and let go.  Like the breath when it is held too long, the things that nourish us can become toxic.

Aparigraha invites us to practice divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then to let go so the next thing can come.  It is how our competency grows and how we become more who we are capable of becoming.  I have a grand piano that I enjoy playing.  But when it is time to eat I don’t carry the piano to the dining room.  Why would I want all that weight on my shoulders?

And yet, often we do try to carry the piano to the dining room table, so to speak, trying all different ways we can think of to find some kind of permanence, something to hold on to.  But the nature of the realm of Aparigraha is impermanence.  Everything changes.  Nothing stays the same.  If we can fall back to the breath and watch the belly rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation, we can feel the truth of the transience of all things.”

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele