Aparigraha – Practicing Non-Attachment
Aparigraha is Sanskrit for non-attachment. It can also be translated as non-possessiveness or non-greed. I was introduced to non-attachment at Kripalu Center for Health and Yoga while volunteering for the maintenance and carpentry crew. I was a recent college graduate, accustomed to striving towards goals and good grades.
At the start of each day, there was a team meeting with our crew leader, “Ram” or Kevin. He gave us the daily agenda and handed over keys to a work truck. Ram always shared a story about living and working at Kripalu when it was an ashram before the workday began. It was the best part of my day! Ram taught me how to apply yoga philosophy to seemingly mundane tasks like hammering a nail, using a drill, power-washing, or moving truck loads of junk and furniture. Ram was teaching me to focus my attention on the present moment by connecting with my breath – that these tasks are no different than postures on my yoga mat. Ram taught me to focus on the integrity of my thoughts, intentions, and actions, rather than simply focusing on the outcome of my work. He was teaching me non-attachment in an accessible way and I’m forever grateful!
After studying Brahmacharya, you’re ready to begin practicing Aparigraha, non-attachment. This Yama can feel overwhelming – one can be attached to material objects, agendas, goals, roles, identities, ideas, thoughts, emotions, pleasures, and ways of doing things. Deborah Adele asks us to start simple:
Week one practice: This week pay attention to your breath. Let the simple act of inhaling and exhaling teach you about the fullness of breathing in life without the need to hold onto it. Journal your observations and experience. (Yamas & Niyamas, p. 100)
Stay tuned for more on non-attachment through the month of June!