Class Notes... The 5th Yama - Aparigraha
We've reached the last one of the 5 Yamas, the ethical guidelines for living a life of peace and freedom. The Sanskrit name is Aparigraha which translates as non-attachment, non-grasping or greedlessness.
Attachments come in many forms - our material 'stuff', past events, our beliefs and stories, our relationships - and when we cling on too hard and refuse to accept things as they really are it can increase our suffering.
Practising non-attachment doesn't mean we are detached or disinterested though - we still care but, when life doesn't go according to plan, there is the possibility that we can begin to breathe it out, gather and readjust ourselves and proceed anyway. It means that we can recognise the things we are clinging to and learn how to let go and become a little more flexible about the outcome. It means doing the best we can and not worrying too much about the results afterwards because they're already in the past. Attachments can prevent us from being open to new possibilities that await us - when we can let go of how we think things would/could/should be there is the chance to create something new.
Of course, some things are easier to let go of than others - it's much more emotionally straightforward to let go of that unworn jumper and give it to the charity shop but much, much harder when it's the people we love that have to leave us - some things take a bit more time to process than others. The mantra 'this too shall pass' can be helpful to keep in mind when going through difficult times.
On the yoga mat the 5th Yama reminds us not to be attached to the way we want our practice or the postures to be. It is more helpful, and kinder to ourselves, if we can let go of the need for the Tree Pose to be perfectly balanced, to be doing the deepest backbends or to hold a headstand for longer than anyone else. Can we breathe out the frustration of being wobbly in Eagle Pose and not allow the negative thoughts and frustration with ourselves to take a hold when we reach towards our feet in Seated Forward Bend? Can we be content to be right then and there on the mat, doing our practice to the best of our ability, focusing and feeling the sensations and the steady breath? Can we try to not strive too hard and just let it unfold? I think we can learn to do this - but it takes time and, well, the practice takes practise!
So how can we begin to practise Aparigraha in daily life? Start with some small things - letting go of an irritation that happened in your day. Something that annoyed you but doesn't really matter in the bigger scheme of things. It's causing you discomfort and taking up precious 'headspace' as you mull it over and over so can you put it down and close the door on it? Let it go and move on. And maybe you can focus on the good things that you already have in your life just a little bit more than on the things you don't have but think that you want too. Practising Aparigraha teaches us to relax a bit more and remember that life (and yoga) is more about the journey than the destination.
This Week's Recipe... Building a Buddha Bowl
Have you ever had a dishful of delicious goodness known as a Buddha Bowl? Lots of little portions of different things all together in one bowl, bright and colourful and made up of whatever you want them to be. Super-nutritious, they usually consist of some sort of grain (rice or barley for example), a little bit of plant protein (tofu or some beans), healthy green leaves (raw spinach or cooked kale maybe), some raw or roasted veggies, a dressing and maybe a sprinkling of seeds or nuts as a topping. Here's what I put in mine today:
Give it a try - add your own ingredients as desired - anything goes as long as it's simple, healthy and colourful.
This Week's Musical Offering...
Want a good long track to put at the beginning of your playlist to accompany your Sun Salutations? This will do nicely...Dance of the Medicine Buddha by Jonathan Goldman...
This Week's Video...
This is an interesting video about bullying - a reminder be careful with the words you say to others and also to yourself...
Until next time.... have a good week :-)