The fifth yama, Aparigraha, is the Yogic idea behind non-attachment. Aparigraha asks us to practice non-possession and non-clinging to all things, lead by the belief that nothing in this world is permanent. The concept of Aparigraha rests upon the idea that all things come and go and holding on will only lead to further suffering in mind, body and spirit. In its simplest form, Aparigraha asks us not to be greedy, embodying the yogic philosophy and ethical path of letting go of what solely serves us and instead focusing on how we may use our lives to better serve others. This in turn can link further inwards to other philosophical thinkings within Yoga; ‘seva’ (service) and ‘dharma’ (purpose) which guide us towards living meaningful, loving and compassionate lives.
The first thought that comes to mind when addressing the practicalities of using Aparigraha within daily life, is releasing the importance of relating to material possessions or objects. As humans our understanding of life seems to rest solely upon our ability to make and apply meaning. Although in many ways this may be true, we can be prone to developing sentimentalities towards material possessions that hold us in a state of attachment – to feelings, memories or sensations – that keep us actively occupying a place within the past or future.
When we are able to release our attachment to possessions, material belongings or wealth, we begin to be able to view all these ‘things’ as a quiet wave of energy – coming and going as they draw in and out at the shore. Unimportant to our true journey that exists only within. We are also able to occupy a space of new presence – releasing attachment to past or future and existing contentedly within the Now. Why not start by clearing out and giving away some things to those in need? This is true Yoga.
Aparigraha can also involve the practice of acceptance, in order to move towards non-attachment. This can mean accepting our own flaws, our bodies, the flaws of others and our relationships which may change, evolve and flow with the pulse of life. The key to easeful Aparigraha is to accept the challenges of life in a bid to liberate ourselves of clinging to our identities. We are ever-changing beings who (physically) shed our skin every 2-4 weeks and our entire cellular selves every 7-10 years. We are morphing, growing, evolving and changing as we move through our lives. If we can learn to love ourselves, accept ourselves entirely, throughout these changes we can feel an easeful twinkling at our feet, grounding us as we glide joyfully through life.
Practicing Aparigraha is a life-long journey, much like Yoga itself. Step by step, we can begin by letting go of our attachments to certain ideas or beliefs, allowing new space for the ideas and opinions of others to swell and expand within us. We can let go of expectation, anticipation and judgement – all of which contribute greatly to personal stress and removing us from experiencing the present moment.
Practicing non-attachment is truly liberating. When we let go of attachments, we open ourselves wide to receive the abundance of life that is pulsing and expanding around us.