If you haven’t already guessed, this Monthly Mantra series is dedicated to Aparigraha and how I managed to let go and grieve the death of my father. Using this limb of the Yoga Sutras as well as Ahimsa (non-violence), I was able to deeply connect to whatever was bothering me and work through all of the pent up emotions. With the idea of “letting go” we need to feel that the time is right to do so. I will never be able to determine when the right time is for you; however, I hope to teach you how I approached this and maybe guide you to adopt a process that works for you.
The first limb in the Yoga Sutras is Ahimsa. While the literal translation is non-violence, ‘a’ meaning ‘not’ and himsa meaning killing or violence, it is meant to be interpreted positively through love. How? It is within the balance of freedom and forgiveness. Iyengar believed that “violence arises out of fear, weakness, ignorance or restlessness.” In order to stray away from these emotions, we must feel empowered to choose freedom by changing our mindset and outlook on life. Forgiveness comes to play when we must tackle a negative or violent thought in our hearts. We are free to feel this way, but forgive ourselves for having such thoughts come to mind.
“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” – Lucille Clifton
I partially blamed myself for the stress my dad experienced. Being the youngest and only girl in the family might have been all fun and games, but I know that he worried about my well being whether I was doing well or not. Even though he lived life fully with as much balance as possible, he held on to a lot of stress from work as well. My family learned this after his death. This made me wonder if my dad could have been saved if all that he was holding on to was released out into the world, giving his heart more space to breathe and thrive. Alas, we’ll never know, but I will always wonder! Again, just another subtle reminder that I need to continue practicing the art of letting go.
“Nonattachment does not mean that we don’t care…We are asked to let go of the clinging to the thing, not the enjoyment of the thing itself. Letting go of ownership opens us up to full engagement with what is set before us in the present moment.” (2)
Aparigraha is the Sanskrit word for the 5th Yama, non-possessiveness. It can also be translated as non-attachment or non-coveting. This circles back to what I started this entry with. In essence, Aparigraha is inviting us to live and let go. We all know that our life is precious and that we have no time to waste. By holding on to the sadness I felt with the loss of a pivotal person in my life, I was telling the world that I had no space in my life to receive new experiences.
Let us relish in all the possibilities life has to offer. Allow the experience to happen. Let it settle in the mind and slowy let it go. Move forward in this journey we call life.
Going back to my dad…. He passed away four months after I got married in 2014. It happened unexpectedly and is the source of much sadness that I still cling so tightly to. Learning to release this feeling has been challenging, but depending on the day, has been much easier than expected.
From Light On Yoga, “By the observance of aparigraha, the yogi makes his life as simple as possible and trains his mind not to feel the loss or the lack of anything.”
The Yoga Sutras have been quite an influence on the way I live life. Mentally, I have become a bit more aware of how ahimsa (non-violence) comes to play. For instance, I pose harm to myself and others around me by allowing negative energy to invade my space. While our minds are programmed to take action based on our thoughts, it has brought me to acknowledge what I need to work on. I am a constant work in progress!
My advice to you
Once you have a better grasp of what is controlling the way you think, that is when you can begin to solve problems and truly let go. By working in reverse order, find and resolve the root cause of sadness or honestly any emotion or problem. Next, let these things marinade over time. Journal. Talk to someone about what’s bothering you. Be an observer of those thoughts. Finally, let it all go. Inhale goodness and exhale the bad.
Would love to read your questions and comments on this post below!
- Light of Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar
- The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele