If you are like I was during my teacher training (which my first real exposure to the eight limbs) you may be thinking that some of this is starting to sound the same or that there is a lot of intersecting of these “rules of the road”. I like to think of them as a road map for ethical, socially aware, and moral behavior. Have I ever told you that I love maps-the kind you unfold and read while driving-and we think texting and driving is dangerous! These suggestions or signs indeed have overlapping intentions all focused on the goal of reaching ultimate awareness or the yoga (unity) of mind, body and spirit. Think of the intersection of the Yamas as the Venn diagram of yoga. 😊
As T.K.V. Desikachar said, “yoga is not a recipe for less suffering, but it can help us in changing our attitude that so we have less avidya (false understanding) and therefore greater freedom from dukha (pain)).”
The fifth and final Yama, is Aparigraha-non possessiveness/non coveting. It may seem related to the yama of Asteya, however, the sentiment of Aparigraha is rooted in avoiding jealousy where practicing Asteya stems from a perceived lack of abundance or something lacking in our own life.
Aparigraha is freedom from greed, possessiveness, or covetousness. Breaking the word down: “graha”, which means to reach for, accept, seek, or crave; “pari”, means from all sides; and “a”, which is used for negation and means “non”. When we combine the three, the word Aparigraha means not taking more than is needed and practicing non-accumulation.
So here we are again at a good suggestion to clean out our closets.🤣 Of course, we can (and should) take that deeper. Maybe it means we could live simply, not covet the car, dress, house that our neighbor has. We can let go of things we do not need, possessing only what is necessary. If we make soup, bring some to that neighbor with the nice car (versus freezing it for another day). If we find a few extra dollars in our pocket, put it in the next donation box you see. If you find yourself with a few extra hours, go volunteer at a local shelter (library, church, nursing home…..).
Links below offers some good thoughts on this Yama (for more check last year’s blog as well).
Our Practice - Practicing Aparigraha on the mat (as well as off)
Last year when we studied Aparigraha I suggested we try closing our eyes during class. My thought is that the experiment allows us to let go, not focus on anyone else, and also helps challenge our balance (yes i realize in this picture I have both feet firmly planted in tadasana). Rather than cause unnecessary injury, I am trying to have us cultivate an inward look and encourage us to feel our practice in our own bodies more precisely. If we cannot see anyone else, we are less concerned with how others are doing a pose or how “well” we are doing it. Remember, there is no "right" way to do an asana. Keeping our focus inward deepens the experience and helps us live the pose in our own way.
So this week as you practice, maybe close your eyes or turn around or do something to help you focus inward. Remember our rule of practice, “maintain a sense of humor” and be generous and giving to yourself in praise of your efforts. Instead of being covetous or jealous of other students’ asana practices, perhaps generously compliment them, not on the extremity of the pose but on their obvious joy or commitment to their physical practice.
As you move off the mat perhaps work Aparigraha into your daily routine by consciously cultivating gratitude for your own gifts and realize the fruitlessness of coveting others’ possessions or talents. Keep in mind that while you are wishing for material objects or talents that others have, there are likely others wishing for something you have or can do. Not good. As we move into our week lets take this final Yama off the mat into our daily life!
Meditating on Aparigraha
I cannot help but use my Bob Marley quotes and imagery for this yama again. Some of you have heard this before, don’t skip over this imagery, go to your music source and play Wake Up And Live by Bob Marley and focus on the words.
“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you are riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief, and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live.” – Bob Marley (Wake up and Live)
For a link to see him perform this song at Santa Barbara 1979 (i keep replaying it):
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed" - Mahatma Gandhi
Nurturing with Food – Vegetarian (Vegan) Cassoulet
Peter and I went away for our anniversary a few weeks ago. We had an amazing dinner at the Clarke Cooke House and Peter had cassoulet. It was, of course, made with meat, lots of meat but the presentation looked so delicious. The next day I said to Pete, “I wonder if there is a such thing a vegetarian cassoulet”? He experiemented and came up with this recipe, and you know its good when we both loved it. Even the guy who sometimes eats meat!
See you on the mat!