Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Aparigrah; non possessiveness

We, as a culture, constantly hold on to what we have and yearn for more. We
want more friends, knowledge, control, and just more stuff in general. But, as
we learn from the yoga sutras, specifically from the yama of Aparigraha or non
possessiveness, we need to let go in order to change and evolve, and to create
space for the new. On our Facebook page, Sarah G., from Yoga International, says
this beautifully: “Let go of who you are to create space for who you can be.” If we
constantly hold on, we don’t get to cleanse. Can you imagine if you held on to every
germ you picked up on the subway? You would be a mile thick with grime! But we
shower often to cleanse ourselves. Aparigraha is similar, teaching us to loosen our
grip on the things we clench to with white knuckles.

As a true life example, I use my mother, one of the strongest woman I have ever
known, because she is constantly allowing the people she loves to go. She is a
physical therapist and I remember watching her read the obituaries to see if any
of her patients died, whether it was from the previous week or years before when
she had last seen them. I was also there when her mother died, and when her father
died, and I remember when I decided to go to Kazakhstan and then move to New
York City. This woman who birthed me and, like any mother, would have loved for
me to be close, never asked or sent out that wish, but instead always supported me
fully on my path.

Mothers are constantly committed to karma yoga, a yoga practice to give
unconditionally; we see this with one of the first things a new mother does--breastfeeding.
Milk has the unique quality of containing the best that the mother can
offer, even at the expense of her own health. In the case of calcium, for example, the
infant is assured an adequate supply since the mother’s milk will contain sufficient
amounts of the mineral even if she herself is malnourished. In the book Diet and
Nutrition: A Holistic Approach by Dr. Ballentine, he shares with his readers that milk
is the symbol of the willingness to give, to sacrifice, which is where the expression
“the milk of human kindness” comes from.Surrendering our own health is an extreme example, but it illustrates how onesurrenders to a greater calling instead of holding on. Change is difficult and often
times it is easier to hold on to the old because it is something familiar to us; a
mother doesn’t know how her child will grow up, a new job may not be as secure as
the old one, or moving forward after someone dies is not easy. But change gives us
space to become who we can be.

Yes, you can have a dramatic change to practice Aparigraha, but you can start in
a simple way by looking at your words. Allow speech to assist you in accepting
change by being less possessive. For example, instead of saying my daughter, can
you call her by name and let go of the title? Or can you let go of saying my job, my
business, my friends? In our speech we harbor this possessiveness and continue to
breed on our attachments.
One challenge that we do during our BambooMoves Warrior Advanced Practitioner (200 Hr Cert.)
program is to see how many times we can say something to show non
possessiveness. When I was getting married a few years ago, instead of always
saying, “my fiancĂ©,” I introduced him by name. It was amazing to see how confused
people got when I wasn’t possessing him, but just stating his name. Often another
person would interrupt and say, “This is her fiancĂ©.” Another example, when looking
for your shoes, try asking, “has anyone seen the shoes that I wore today?” Or, in
response to where do you work? Often I respond, I teach at a studio in Queens,
instead of calling it my studio. To dive a bit further, when getting physically hurt,
instead of saying, “I hurt my toe,” you might say, “The toe is hurt.”” Start by changing
how we look at the stuff around us, the body we have, and the mind we have, in
order to begin to loosen these grips. This loosening allows us freedom to have faith
in Ishvara and the practice of Aparigraha.
This month, the BambooMoves 8 Limbs Challenge, is to see how you can change
your speech by becoming aware of how often you use possessives. Some days try
not to use possessives and on other days observe and keep a tally how many times
you use “my” or “mine.” Facebook us and share your thought of this challenge.