When I did my yoga teacher training back in 2011 one of my teachers told us stories about coming to the West from India and being introduced to root beer. He loved root beer! It was so delicious and he couldn’t get enough of it! He talked about becoming quite attached to his trips from the ashram where he could go to get root beer. He spoke of it with such affection and sweetness, we all laughed. But the thing is, he found himself becoming quite attached to root beer. He had to be willing to let it go. He also spoke about being given a gift – an iPod nano – that he loved. When someone asked if they could listen he initially wouldn’t loan it. He was attached to having that iPod. It was his. Once again, a lesson in letting go. Eventually he gave it away.
This past week was a lesson for me in letting it go. I had to let go of something I had impulsively bought. After getting this item, I realized the mistake almost immediately, and although I really wanted to keep it, I knew that the money I spent (it was an awful lot) was needed for bills. And so, with much sadness, I let it go. But along with the sadness, was a sense of relief. I feel a lot better now.
That’s something we don’t do a lot of in the West. We accumulate many things, we gather our stuff around us sometimes as status symbols, often as comforts. And then we become owned by our things as opposed to owning our things. We become attached to ownership as much as the things themselves!
Aparigraha is one 5 Yamas of the 8 limbs of yoga as written by Pantanjali. It is interpreted as non-attachment, non-greed or non-possessiveness. It extends further than our things, however. It extends even to our existence. The attachment to our bodies, to our thoughts, to our beliefs. When we attach to these concepts it sets up an ‘us vs them’ sort of mentality. We believe x and they believe y and one if us must be right. When we allow ourselves to detach and take a state of curiosity instead, we are able to be open to others’ ideas and examine them with discernment rather than from a place that is immovable. We may decide it’s not for us, but not with anger or resentment. There’s so much of that in our world these days.
Always be willing to let it go. Check yourself for attachments and determine the nature of the attachment and the reason for it. You may surprise yourself with insight into why you are attached.