I’m studying the Yamas and Nyamas of yoga this summer, and a particular Yama showed up in my life this week that I want to share with you. . .
I’m skipping ahead however to the fourth Yama, Aparigraha, which reminds us to be people who avoid greed or hoarding, people who adopt a posture of non-attachment or “letting go.”
I could spend this whole blog on the avoidance of greed or hoarding – we witnessed our tendency for such behavior at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember when toilet paper was nowhere to be found on store shelves? We were greedily hoarding a common household staple making sure OUR home was well stocked regardless of whether others in need could find any!
This was a sadly familiar and poignant example of how Aparigraha is antithetical to everyday human behavior – we are quick to look after ourselves, at the expense of other people’s needs!
Instead, today I want to discuss another kind of letting go – the release of something we’ve built, developed, contributed to, or otherwise invested in (with emotional and intentional energy) because it no longer serves us. Examples could include:
- Leaving a job – because it consumes more than it replenishes in your day
- Leaving a relationship — because it’s become more disruptive than constructive in your life
- Leaving a neighborhood – because it no longer reflects your values or priorities.
None of these choices would be easy to make – but they reflect the spirit of Aparigraha in a way that reminds us that letting go can be a conscious act of alignment – the spiritual work we do in order to stay true to our core values, one of which needs to be a commitment to self-care.
How do you muster the courage to create that kind of change? Far too often we stay “stuck” in circumstances and situations that are unhealthy for us physically, interpersonally, spiritually, or even financially. We’re easily overwhelmed by just the thought of generating the initiative it might take to “let go” of the harmful comfort-zone we’ve built around ourselves.
So, that’s my question to you – where are you living with, stuck-in, or otherwise weighed down by something which clearly, no longer serves you – no longer matches your values or replenishes your relationship with yourself?
For me, practicing Aparigraha meant stepping away from what started as a perfectly delightful piece of contract work. This was originally a contract that offered me heart-felt, values-centered, peer coaching work. I loved it!
Over time, this “job” began taking up more space and time in the whole of my work-life availability (I only work part-time, because like many of you, I am a fulltime caregiver!). The work developed technology obstacles that began to require more effort and create more frustration than I could comfortably continue to give it. It no longer served me. So, I “let it go.”
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to do this work. I learned so much in the process of serving the clients that came to me through this contract, I built relationships with other coaches doing this work that I will cherish for a lifetime. It served me well for over two years, but now it was time to let go!
A huge sense of relief washed over me once I’d made the decision. Will I miss some aspects of the work? YES. Will I miss the additional income it provided me each month? Maybe. But I’m confident that when I thoughtfully let go of one opportunity, I make space for other new, and creative opportunities to become available in my life.
What are you holding on to that is no longer serving you? Where do you have opportunity to discover what’s next, what’s more or what’s exciting that awaits you? What are you afraid of losing if you simply “let go?”
Sometimes we have to take stock of the daily investments we’re making, investments of time, effort, or emotional and intentional energy. We cannot practice self-care when we’re staying (purely out of a sense of obligation or familiarity) in a situation or circumstance that has ceased to replenish our relationship with ourselves.
Where might the practice of Aparigraha might serve you?
Where do you have an opportunity to let go of that thing that is holding you back, creating more consternation than calm, or otherwise making friction for you at your values-core? I implore you, let it go!