Aparigraha and living in faith

by Jenna Bacchi

Aparigraha is a familiar term in the yoga community meaning non-hoarding or non-possessiveness. Growing up in a poor family where throwing away anything was a sin lead me to develop attachments to little things I really didn’t need. Things like old clothes, books, lotions, anything. I couldn’t throw it away, that was a sin. Overtime the result was owing a ton of worthless stuff, attaching myself to things that I didn’t need. Living in a life of clutter. It was as if the inside of my unorganized brain spewed all over my home. Offering the onlooker, a sample of what kind of overthinking, over stressing brain I resided in. O.K., my home did not look like an episode of Hoarders, but I had a lot of worthless things that were not serving me. Specifically, this essay will tap into one element of aparigraha, the aspect of hanging onto physical things.

Yoga is a lifestyle of learning about yourself, a lifestyle of self-study. The experience of diving into the subconscious and challenging your own belief system. This belief system I had to challenge was that I had to save everything out of fear of never having enough, had to end. It was the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, that gave me clarity. While listening to this audiobook, I fearfully started packaging all sorts of things for goodwill and throwing out tons of other things. It horrified by then boyfriend, now husband, because it was quite a shocking amount of things I was getting rid of. This required that I started living in faith, instead of fear. Living in faith that there will always be enough. Simply trusting.

According to A light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar, “…one should not hoard or collect things none does not require immediately.” I remember Marie Kondo’s advice about allowing things to have rent in your home, whether it is worth it to keeps so much stuff around. Is it worth it to hang on to things you use once a year? If you go camping once a year would it be worth it to rent the equipment you need instead of owing it? Maybe, maybe not, everyone is on their own journey living in their own space. This is not meant to judge anyone, only to express a wonderful concept in 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. Then everything he really needs will come to him by itself at the proper time”-Iyengar. Let’s visit the goal of yoga according to the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali,” Complete mastery over the modifications of the mind is called yoga.” Therefore, we can see how what Iyengar says about aparigraha and the goal of yoga is a harmonious mix of creating mastery over the mind. When we are not attached to the physical things in life, we free up a lot of energy around physical items. For example, if we lose a pair of sunglasses, we are not burdened by the situation, there are endless amounts of sunglasses in the world. We can drop by the local convenience store and grab a new pair.

The most challenging part of this yama for me is books, they hold so much wisdom and I never know when I might want to go back and read them again – which is funny because I almost never read a book twice. At the end of the day you can always go out and get another – fill in the blank (book). There will always be more, live your life in faith and live your life in abundance, then there is no need to hang on to old things that no longer serve you.

What does non-possessiveness mean to you? Is this something that is part of your yoga practice? What are you hanging onto, is it physical, a belief, energetically?

Right Use of Energy, Brahmacharya

By: Jenna Bacchi

This week the theme of my yoga classes is brahmacharya. This means right use of energy. This really got me thinking as I wrote out some reflections of my own for my students.

What is my own right use of energy? Am I spending time on the things I believe in, on living the life I want, on giving back to my community in a way that I believe in?

Right use of energy can extend into so many dimensions. This could be in the direction of our family, our work, our faith, etcetera. When it comes down to it, it is vital to ponder on what is best for our own missions in our life. It’s vital to ponder on, where our energy has to go to be in that authentic space of living. Where our energy has to go so, we arrive where we want to be, and so we can live a life we believe in. Even to the extent of how you want to be remembered after our time on this Earth is over. This is where we find fulfillment in our lives, and our satisfaction in this human experience.

If we do not put our energy into what we believe in and what we value, then our lives will start to run us, instead of us running our lives. It’s powerful to sit down and look at where we are offering our energy and what outcome we expect to have. Will your use of energy eventually result in what you’re craving for in this lifetime?

If we spend copious moments on social media, but our goals have nothing to do with scrolling through your Facebook feed are we getting any closer to the energetic or physical place we want to be? If we’re watching TV at night, but we want to lose weight, it’s time to turn the TV off and spend our precious energy in the gym and cooking healthy food. Think about where you’re spending your time and think about what the payoff is. Looking at that will prove to you whether you’re practicing Brahmacharya.

It’s vital to have concentration (dharana), when traveling on the path that we believe in. This is what keeps us on the right track to achieving our desires and living our best lives. When we use our concentration in conjunction with finding our own right use of energy, the result is a beautiful life that we love living.

Sure, it might seem like common knowledge to put your energy in the direction of what you’d like to receive, but many of us don’t. Some of us are surfing social media, instead of paying attention to family. Some of us are out at the bars on the weekends instead of waking up early and training for 5ks. Where does your energy need to go to live out your duty?

Brahmacharya asks of us to re- evaluate how we spend our time and energy. Brahmacharya gives us an opportunity to reflect on whether our daily commitments, and practices are in line with what we actually want and believe is right for our lives.

To take the time to realize our own right use of energy is important to first identify our mission in life. This can be very vague if you don’t know exactly how you want to contribute to society. Some vague examples include, help people, help animals, serve god or to put family first. This can also be very specific of course, for example, to be a nurse in ICU and save lives daily from 8pm to 4am. From there, we can evaluate if what we’re doing right now in our lives is part of our right use of energy. We can take a moment to reflect on whether where we put our time, energy, efforts and attention are in line with that. When we are in alignment with what we want we live lives of bliss.

Let me know how it went! I hope you all are directing your energy in the direction of what you believe is your right use of energy.

Photo by Pixabay

Stress Management and Attitude


By: Charles Swindoll

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes”

Stress Management and Attitude

By: Jenna Bacchi

What can we do when there is nowhere to turn, but stress is surfacing to our hearts, minds and through each and every pore? We have the ability to make some quick internal shifts to handle the stress.

One thing I’ve learned from being in the army was that things will be the way things are. What I mean is when something wasn’t the way I would have preferred, guess what, it didn’t matter. That’s the way it was. I realized that I would have to make my own internal shifts to handle situations. Really, our freedom lies within our own two ears, in our mind. We can be a slave to our own reactions of the situation, or we can handle it with our attitude. We have the option to step back and realize that our experiences are a culmination of what we perceive, what we think and how we feel.

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily, that’s a perception too. To say it’s easier said than done immediately puts up limits on our mental capacities.

We are more than capable of managing our abilities to handle situations. Not to say something tragic won’t evoke some very extreme emotions, of course it will, that is part of this human experience. What it does offer is powerful coping skills. This allows to take our own power back, to roll with the punches and to manage the stress of our lives with our own mind.

When it comes to stress management not everything has to be external. It doesn’t have to be a yoga class, meditation, a massage. We can make internal shifts that don’t add more time in our life. We can change our attitude which allows us to change or handle our perceptions of a situation and design that moment into what we want it to be like. We can use our perception to look at the silver lining. This is important because when we’re in meetings at work, we can’t just say, “hold on boss, I’m getting kind of stressed, I need to go do a yoga class, how about we finish this meeting when I get back?”. Life doesn’t work that way, we have to handle stress in the moment, and we can use our attitude and perception to do so.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have our emotions. What I am saying is we can decide how to perceive our experiences and we can decide to have a positive attitude about how the world is outside of us.

Take a look at your attitude, could it use an adjustment?