How to let go by non-attachment.
Aparigraha, one of the Yama’s from Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of yoga.
The yamas are essentially moral guidelines by which to live with regard to our relationship with ourselves, and the world around us. These moral codes can be applied both on and off the yoga mat, helping us to practice not just for the benefit of ourselves, but for the world around us.
Aparigraha translates to non-attachment, non-possessiveness, non-greed.
Yesterday, my wonderful friend Anna directed a sound bowl meditation class over Zoom. The theme of the class was ‘Letting go’.
As I closed my eyes and listened to her guiding us to let go by way of perception; letting go of the past, accept what has occurred and to accept things now as they are. Let go of the future, of things not yet occurred. Place all of these anxieties and thoughts beneath your feet and into the ground. Stay present. It does not mean to not honor these feelings or thoughts that come up in us, but to then not give it a place in where you are now.
It is so difficult for any of us to live 100% in the now. It is a practice that you must practice over and over. At the beginning it is minute by minute, then gradually hour by hour and eventually day by day. However, our human nature is always to revert back to listening to the stories in our heads, instead of the truth in our hearts.
We are taught that the heart only bares our desires, passions and wants and that these things have no right in our lives because if we are not struggling or aching or in some way, sweating to an end goal, we don’t deserve it. However, the heart is much more than that. It is our only truth. What lies in our hearts is who we truly are and if we relied on listening to it more, we’d know that we can live in the present and slowly let go of what is in our heads.
Those desires, passions and wants, are your true self. They are not governed by obligations and shoulds. If we looked closer and built a closer relationship with our heart, we’d see the truth of who we truly are and the potential we have to grow into the person we were meant to be.
Once you get a hint of your heart and the wants it is seeking, you begin to want to know more and more and you become lighter because you are not bogged down by the false feelings your head creates. When something is false or fake, it seems to weigh heavier because you have to hold up a stronger façade of yourself to others. However, when you are living in your truth, there is nothing to hide or lies to keep up with and you live lighter and freely because you are free.
As I fell into the mediation yesterday, I wondered how to explain letting go to some that are so used to thinking if they repeat the stories over and over in their heads, they’ll eventually figure it out. And I thought of this:
Imagine yourself holding bags of groceries. They are plenty and heavy; like your thoughts. Once you reach home, you’ll need to put these groceries away or they’ll spoil. Each grocery has it’s proper place; refrigerator, pantry, bathroom closet, etc. Once the groceries are out of your hands and into their proper place, you immediately feel lighter and no longer see your groceries, they are away, where they belong.
If we looked at this from the prospect of how to put our thoughts away into their proper place, we will feel lighter. Once a thought from the past pops up, place it back in its place by simply saying:” I am here now. That belongs there.” You can even name where it needs to go, example: “This thought belongs to my 7 year old self.” And then tell yourself where/who you are now, the date and time and what you are currently doing: “I am 37 years old, standing in my kitchen on Tuesday at 8:15am, scrambling eggs for breakfast.”
If a thought from the future pops up, the same practice can be taken, however in reverse. State what you are doing, who you are in the now, the date and time & what you are doing and where the future thought belongs: “I am 37 years old and I am standing in my kitchen scrambling eggs for breakfast. The thought that is coming from a future place does not belong here because it is Tuesday, 8:15am and I can’t foresee the future.”
These are things that have helped me tremendously. I am not a doctor or psychologist or anyone with a degree. However, I am a human having gone through some intense traumatic experiences and I can tell you what has worked for me over and over again. I have walked the path of least resistance and the knowledge I have, comes from experience & practice.
Again, this is a practice. Therefore, it must occur often and with practice it becomes easier. The thoughts may come but they will not take residence in your head, eating up every moment of your life or debilitating you. Instead they leave as fast as they arrive or not at all.
So to live a life of non-attachment and letting go, it is about staying present because it is the only time we have.
Eckhart Tolle said: Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
We have the power within us to live in the present. The tools to stay focused on the now and to be more aware of this very moment lie in letting go by not attaching yourself to the past or the future and accepting the now.