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?