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

Tuesdays @ Thomasville YMCA – 9.16.14 (Asteya – Stealing from the Earth)

I will immediately claim a deficiency in this aspect of Asteya.  I like MY stuff.  I worked hard for MY stuff.  One day though, MY stuff will move on to someone else or rot and decay.  

Possessions are defined as “the state of having, owning, or controlling something.”  I especially do not like the word controlling.  In a Performance Yoga post, we discussed how it is frustrating when trying to control the brain.  Possessions can bring that same level of frustration.  Ultimately we are given or have purchased them and are now tasked with either caring for them or destroying them.  There is stress here.  It means that we will be careful and consider the next person to possess the item or we will allow stagnation to form and the item will be useless to future generations.  We are on loan to this earth just as our possessions are on loan to us.

Stealing from the Earth
Mantra – I am on loan.

We forget that we are spirits having a human experience.  We are visitors to the human experience; we are visitors in the fullest sense of the word.  We are visitors to this land, to our bodies, to our minds.  To fully appreciate this reality is to accept that nothing on this physical plane does or can belong to us.

We use the term “I,” “mine,” and “my” with almost everything … my house, my car, my clothes, my kids … we can even say, “I had a flat tire.”  The ownership of things is steeped deep in our language and cultures and makes it hard for us to appreciate the extent to which nothing really is ours.  This guideline asks us to view everything in our possession as something precious that is on loan to us.  And for the time that it is on loan to us, we are asked to care for it.

The bounty of the earth is for the community, not the individual.

Book – “The Yamas and Niyamas” by Deborah Adele