January 2019 has arrived and the dust has settled from the frenetic holiday season. Gifts have been given and received. You may still be out there doing exchanges and returns. Or you may be running the other way happy to not walk into a retail store for as long as you can…
Aparigraha- the last Yama- the virtue of non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness, cautions against coveting. During the holidays, it’s easy to see that we’re stretching our wallets, our bellies, our desire to want more. In our daily lives, it’s more challenging to stay aware. To take a short break from writing this blog, I went out to tend to my gardens. There’s a magnolia tree right over one of the beds. Inevitably the bed ends up littered with leaves and flowers throughout the year. As I had been writing about aparigraha, I became keenly aware of my desire to want an unreasonable number of tasks to be done. Everywhere I looked in the yard was adding another item on the to do list. On another day, I might have let this desire consume me and end up rushing through doing a sloppy job trying to get it all done- ending in disappointment in my efforts and the results. Instead I decided to tackle a small portion of the garden bed. After working with my fingers and a small rake, a piece of unobstructed little expanse of dirt was revealed. It looked so fresh, so new. Where there had been leaves and debris for months, now was so clean and neat. I enjoyed the simple satisfaction in realizing a reasonable expectation. I cleaned up the work area and put my tools away. I walked away a little lighter appreciating the wisdom of this teaching. How much do we add on more than we need obscuring the simplicity beneath? How much physical and mental clutter do we keep and then continue to pile on more?
The internet has changed how we see the world and what we see of the world. Social media gives us a curated view into others’ lives like we’ve never seen before. Keeping coveting in check has become even more challenging. A couple minutes perusing can have you thinking that you don’t have enough and that you are not enough. How easy it is to fall into the trap of comparing our stuff and ourselves to another’s. We inevitably fall short in the eyes of the almighty judge- the voice inside. Even in our yoga practice, we covet. Desiring our body or practice to not be what it is, instead to be like hers or his over there or what it was 5 years ago. It’s a clear road to dissatisfaction and creating a feeling of inadequacy. Which ironically, we in turn fill by consuming more, caught in an empty cycle of never filling up and perpetually searching.
As my teenager complained about having to go to a family function over the holidays, I reminded her of how blessed we are to have a family to be with. We can count our blessings and those true gifts that can’t be bought in a store. Let us look within and celebrate our uniqueness and how each of us contribute to our community, to our world. Turn in the hours you gaze longingly at other things and people and instead look within and reclaim. Aparigraha invites us to not only refrain from coveting but also from hanging onto old ways that do not serve us. In essence it’s asking us to consider what binds us, what baggage do we acquire and hold onto, that keeps us from living truly freely. As we start another year, it’s a natural time to consider what we can let go of, what doesn’t serve our higher purpose and consider what does. This year set the intention to love yourself wholeheartedly with the generosity you afford others. When you move through the world whole and true, you give permission for others to recognize their beauty and the world is grateful for it. I am grateful for all the people who have touched my heart in 2018 through their example, no gesture too small, for reminding me we share this life together.
You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness -Brene Brown