Non-grasping, non-greediness, non-hoarding, non-gripping. Aparigraha. It starts with hands up, soft palms and heart a little wider and more spacious.
One of the Yamas, in Pantajali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, aparigraha is a practice that helps us learn about enoughness. Gratitude comes into play here as a way of deeply seeing and appreciating, and being satisfied by, what we already have, leading to a sense of deep presence, and abundance without the impulse to pile up more and more “stuff.”
“Am I enough?”, is where this leads me. Do I have enough to offer as a teacher? Do my kids have enough? Am I doing enough? It’s not even that I think this on an explicit level. More often it comes up as a grasping, like when I see a new class or training. Or find myself answering a simple “How are you?” question. A part of me leaps up and says, “Oh! I should take this class.” Or, I should explain how I’m feeling as if I need to justify them. It comes with a feel of, “I can’t say no to this. I might be missing something!” I can feel the impulse in my hands and fingers to curl and grab as I write this, and the sense of a gap or a “something not there” when I say no to an offer.
Taking it deeper, in his book Yoga for a World Out of Balance, Michael Stone writes that the practice of aparigraha “is the deep letting go when we decide to meet life as it is.” This is at the heart of Yoga practice: allowing our thoughts, interpretations, evaluations and judgments to be beside us as we experience, rather than between us and experience.
We don’t even realize it but physically we start to feel out hands close and grip in. So many of our moments will be for palms up. So just feel your hands spin palms up and hands go soft.
All yamas are practices, not philosophies. They are intended to be experienced, to be brought to life as questions.