It feels quite timely to post this at this time of year... you might get caught up in the hype of consuming, I know I can, I've been googling hair products to help the frizz, I've been gazing into my wardrobe and feeling rather 'blerg'. Living in a world, like we do, it can feel so hard to 'keep up' especially if you've perhaps been scrolling. And maybe at Christmas there's more outgoing energy of spending, buying and gifting.
So in this post, I wanted to share in an honest rambling way, about this 8 limb and how we can also take actions to work on this limb.
Aparigraha – ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment’. This important Yama teaches us to take only what we need, keep only what serves us in the moment and to let go when the time is right.
I've been having another clearout, I seem to accumulate things, and every year I need a clearout, I think this can be because life changes, work shifts, our priorities alter our perspective. I also don't have that much space, and for some reason a cupboard bursting at the seams causes me a wave of anxiety. Is it shame? Guilt? For buying things I no longer need...
There can be so many things at play when we look at the idea of greed, attachment, and holding on.
I've been feeling overwhelmed by how we much consume & produce, the extraordinary amount of all the STUFF. And this isn't me passing judgement, I have stuff too, but it almost stops me in my tracks when I think about it.
I struggle to maintain ahimsa, non-violence, when the world we've created tends to lead to harm. I buy some blueberries, the plastic goes in the bin(if I've not bought it from a local farmer or from Riverford). The blueberries are good for me, and yet... I follow environmental programmes that show plastic that was been sent to be recycled but is in fact sitting in a mountain bigger than any of us can imagine. It also makes me think about all the gifts that might be discarded in a month or two after xmas.
Anyway, I'm not saying don't buy blueberries, I'm just saying that we can start to practice from a higher perspective, every item we consume has had a journey to you and will have a journey after you. I know life is already overwhelming, and when we are managing a lot emotionally we can't always carry the burden of the world around us. But if you have space to do this, perhaps think carefully about what you are buying, if it's for yourself or for another.
This leads me to feelings of guilt. The last thing I want to make you feel is guilty when reading this. Sometimes I can only afford to shop at Lidl, and the plastic hurts my heart, but often we can only do some much on a budget, other months I'll buy what I can from a sustainable food source.(plus I believe these changes need to come from the top and not rely on the public to make such huge changes when not everyone can afford to).
When practising the teachings of yoga, I can end up feeling guilty.
I've been pondering on this, guilt can sometimes drive us to do good things, but when is it healthy and when is it not healthy? We can't feel guilty all the time, that energy will hold us back.
So lets flip feeling guilty, to a more helpful perspective: I've been thinking of everything as energy, every action, thought, purchase, holding or letting go. Is energy. So, your money and your belongings are also energy.
Where do you want to put your energy? Are the items around you bringing you energy, that feels uplifting, purposeful and meaningful?
This can also be applied to gift giving, are the items likely to be cherished, or thrown away in a month or two? If you can't afford much, perhaps you could arrange a meetup, go for a coffee and a yummy bit of cake, take an art class together.
Invest your energy(your money) into experiences rather than things.
My family all started to do Secret Santa, which has been a blessing, when I was in my 20's and being honest, really very poor, an actor/singer working 4 jobs... I would panic and at Christmas, I'd often make presents which was lovely but I knew some of the folks in my family didn't need slightly odd homemade jam or a weird painting... I love Secret Santa because it's exciting and you can focus on just one person, either getting them a special gift or experience.
I love Marie Kondo and her process, I've been listening to the minimalists too. So perhaps with this Yama, you could not only take a look at what you could let go of, but also look at what you do really need, and also how to help others, can you donate items to a shelter? Donate furniture that you don't really love.
there's so much to write here, but a part of me believes that the majority of the worlds suffering is from Greed, and power. The Yamas cover a way of living where we take care of one another, it might also sound familiar and be in religious teachings, but moral disciplines are often what makes us caring, and thoughtful and think of others.
Some things to ponder:
What can you let go of?
This can be physical. are you holding on physically, tensions, grief, pain? This might mean moving your body in a really loving, soft and kind way. Or booking the osteo or walking in nature.
Items might be building up in your cupboards, if you have time to have a clear out do so slowly, maybe a room or cupboard at a time, do these items bring you joy? do you need them and why are you holding on to them?
Greed, this is a tricky one, and I'm reluctant to say too much. Do you feel you are consuming too much, this might be to cover an emotion or bring a high. This has been my journey with money, which has taken quite some time to unpick, reflect on this with compassion and care. Seek professional help if you need it.
Letting go. It can be hard, but we create space, nature will always fill a space, you create a vacuum, so it means you can call in positive things. Manifest and create.
When buying try to do so with care and attention, shop local if you can afford it and if you can't that's ok, but buy with energetic intention and thought.
If this all sounds a bit too much, the quickest way to practice this is to meditation and practice yoga, free of intention and practice mindfulness. Step onto your mat with no expectations and when you meditate ungrip from your thoughts. That is the true Aparigraha.