In order to rid oneself of suffering, one must have an idea of it's cause. Patanjali, the ancient Indian sage, philosopher and mystic suggests in his Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga, that grasping and clinging to people, objects, wealth, etc. is one of the causes of suffering. Through Aparigraha, or non-grasping, Patanjali posits that we will be secure in our own peace, while misery and self loathing simply washes away. In this article I will describe some instances of grasping clinging that cause discomfort. To realize the culprit is to be aware of similar instances which disturb the balance of our happiness. Once brought to the light, we can practice concentrating on non-attachment to any particular outcome.
Letting go of our own embroidered images and identities is a sure way to open the mind. The layers of amour we employ in the way of objects, roles, images (the right clothes, the right address, the right friends), all of these act to obscure our true nature. Patanjali tells us that even if these identities are part of our day to day life, they need not overburden us, and that they can never be a true reflection of who we are inside.
Who we are at the core has nothing to do with what we acquire on the outside. To place our happiness, or our sense of self in the hands of someone else is perilous. What is it that people think you should be, how you should act, what you should have or enjoy? How could anyone possibly have the answers to your unique experience?
Imagine the lift in your spirit to be able to follow your own heart!
Grasping and clinging to some external form of security cannot offer a measure of peace. For example:
- Is it important that I hang onto the same job, my entire life, because in my father's generation that was the everlasting way to financial security? Elder members of the family may create undue pressure that has nothing to do with your own values, today. (Who am I trying to please in my life? Does it serve me?)
- Should I mow my lawn once in either direction and then once on a diagonal because that's the way it is in our neighborhood? (Is it necessary? Aren't I putting 3x as many fumes into the atmosphere? Do I want to?)
- I'm a salesperson, and like to appear successful but do I really need the newest sports car to demonstrate my power and influence? (Because really my success is no more than average. How do I justify another whopping monthly payment?)
Aparigraha means not clinging to anything that rings untrue.
Each time we live according to our own nature, and we release the tendency to cling to a particular facade we become a little lighter, a little more comfortable and can enjoy a boost of self esteem and self acceptance. Right away we realize that we've made an important step.
Grandma wants you to have 2 plates of dinner and a second helping of desert, but you really don't live in that space anymore. You haven't eaten like that since you were 14yrs old. She may be unhappy that you don't conform to her expectations or traditions, but when you offer the same love and appreciation while choosing your own path – a small light begins to shine from within.
Non-grasping, non-clinging means to be able to lift off the layers of inconsistency. Going against your true self causes depression and self loathing. We hurt ourselves by not being aware of the choices that we make. To practice Aparigraha, Patanjali says, is to be able to live life without undue burden, to be free to be who you are, and to be light, happy and free of suffering.
Heather Johnston is a Registered Dental Hygienist and Certified Yoga Instructor. She enjoys all aspects of health, is fascinated with anatomy and evolution, with yoga and meditation and is always looking for ways to strengthen the body and mind.
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