Gaining freedom from the practice of aparigraha
The following is an excerpt from "Freedom Meditation to Release Attachment," a recent meditation class I taught at Full Circle Yoga in October, 2014.
Aparigraha is the observance of non-hoarding in the moral code of yogic behaviors that, if kept, provides the most personal empowerment, freedom from any fear, anything that might prevent you from fulfilling your life’s purpose to be truly happy!
Aparigraha is the 5th yama (moral observance) of the Yoga Sutras according to Patanjali, an ancient sage, who wrote the sutras (teachings) more than 2,000 years ago. It is closely interpreted as non-attachment, or a release from attachments as they are recognized in the human psyche.
Imagine what could be possible in your life if you did not fear rejection. If you did not fear the loss or destruction of any item. If you could endure any change in your life with grace and dignity. If you did not even fear death!
Patanjali did not mean for us to not enjoy what we have, but to not be attached to things that lead to solidifying a false identity. Since everything we know of will change, evolve, deteriorate, and/or die, we should strive to release the delusion that we can keep what is not ours. Realizing this particular delusion in its many manifestations is freeing in itself because then we can get to work on removing the attachments that cause us to suffer.
Aparigraha means much more than just an accumulation of stuff. Aparigraha relates to letting go of anything physical or conceptual that increases attachment to status, identity, and ego. Therefore, “stuff” is so much more than another handbag or another pair of shoes! Some tangible items we may be attached to might be technology items, books, clothes, and collectables. Giving away, or dana (dah-nah), is one way to practice aparigraha: to physically relieve yourself of items you do not need with a joyous heart. Make time for this off the cushion. The intangible things are more difficult to see, but cause great suffering nonetheless! We may attach ourselves to names, credentials, titles, career, relationships, other people’s energy, and even life itself.
So, step by step we purify our delusional minds while also increasing our generosity, and our feelings of true freedom and joy! Now, when you are ready to sit, concentrate on your breath and center yourself for the meditation, and prepare to relieve yourself of your "stuff"!
HOW TO DO THE FREEDOM MEDITATION:
Begin with concentration on even a very mundane thing with no thoughts attached. This is absolutely necessary for the meditation, so take your time establishing concentration visually on a spot on the floor, or on the breath with eyes closed. The second part is refining your breath and concentration so that you can silently choose an area of your life you would like to free yourself from. Refrain from judging any past behaviors. If you get stuck here, spend a few minutes with “I forgive you” until you can move on with an open and light heart. The third part of your meditation is the affirmation of "I release you", or "I release that". Sometimes feelings of guilt or sadness may arise, and they come from associations you have made in your mind that are connected somehow to the thing you are releasing. Infuse any sadness with love and a sincere desire for peace. Affirm "I release you" until the whole situation is infused with a feeling of peace and lightness.
Take the time you need to feel your feelings. You will know you have the desired result when you feel a sense of lightness in your heart and mind, and no negativity when you think of what you have released. Come back to this practice of letting go often and you will have a joyous heart, a gracious heart, and the courage to face anything in this life.
Kristen Fewel, Yoga Educator, Reiki Master
Full Circle Yoga & Healing Arts