The journey toward freedom

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“A bird cannot hold its perch and fly. Neither can we grasp anything and be free.” – Deborah Adele

This week we explore the fifth and final of the yamas, Aparigraha, or nonpossessiveness. It can also be translated as nonhoarding, nonattachment, nongreed, nonclinging or nongrasping. Aparigraha can be thought of as the ability to “let go.”

While reflecting on the concept of nonpossessiveness, I couldn’t help think about a two-year old in my family who is very much in the “it’s mine” phase. Actually coined the possessive phase, developmental psychologist Susan Gelman, Ph.D. describes it as “when young children are beginning to understand the concept of a person’s invisible tie to a thing.”

When two-year olds cling to possessions, they are just trying to make sense of their world. As adults, we may reflect on the hold a desire for possessions may still have on us, as well, as how we may or may not define ourselves by what we own.

As in the two-year old example, one may be attached to physical objects. As physical possessions clutter our space, it may become difficult to move about. On the psycho-emotional level, clutter in the mind such as clinging to rigid thoughts, ideas and expectations inhibits our ability to expand and grown on an intrapersonal level.

Aparigraha asks us to let go of the clinging of things, not the enjoyment of the things itself. The tighter we hold onto things, the more power or hold those things have over us. The more we practice generosity, the more expansive and light we become, no longer held down by our attachment to physical and emotional “stuff”.

As the opening quote reminds us, by practicing Aparigraha, we can feel a true sense of freedom. How can you unpack your physical, mental, and emotional suitcases?

To practice applying Aparigraha to your self-care, I invite you to start with the physical. Take a look at the physical things in your surroundings. Do these things make you feel free and light or do they have a hold on you and make you feel heavy? Take some time to experience the difference between enjoyment and attachment.

Join me next week as we begin our journey through the niyamas, the “observances” of yoga.