If you have a strong desire for something, is that necessarily wrong or bad for you? The way I see it, nearly everyone indulges in pleasure from time to time. And, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, indulgences, like everything else, are fine in moderation.
Indulgences are usually things we can live without and may even be considered unhealthy – like alcohol, smoking, and sugar. But there are times when we have to go on our computers and phones or shop for an item and, certainly, we all have to eat – these activities are not considered indulgences or luxuries but they can still lead to binging and addictive behaviors.
What is the difference between binging and addiction?
When you hunger for something, you want it, you need it, in fact you may not be able to function without it. Your mind becomes attached to that “thing”. You may think that you want it with all your heart, but you really want it with all your intellect. Your mind is the possessor here, not your eyes nor your ears. In the end, this can make you scattered, obsessed, and completely unaware that others may be affected by your desires.
Through yoga, we can address this attachment, this extreme possessiveness, with the concept of aparigraha. Aparigraha is the 5th yama or abstinence in the 8 fold path of yoga. For a review click here.
In sanskrit, the word aparigraha is broken down into graha = to take/grab, pari=all sides & a=against. So, aparigraha means “against taking all” or non-greed.
But it’s not just about hamburgers. We can certainly have attachments to physical things but we can also be possessive on an intellectual or verbal level.
This week’s Year of Living Yogically challenge is to find freedom through non-attachment.
Here are some basic methods for practicing non-attachment or aparigraha:
Practice Yoga Joyfully – Practice what you love. Be honest about what you need from your practice. Don’t overdo and strive for poses that you feel you should do because you would be “less” without attaining them.
Simplify – Only possess what you need. Some objects such as excess clothing, gadgets for the home and collections are only cluttering your space and take up time to maintain. Go through a closet or even a drawer and begin to discard.
Listen – Be open to what others have to share. Pay attention that you don’t talk too much and hoard conversation.
Eat Less – Use your own judgment here. It isn’t about dieting. Its about consuming. As you fill your plate, take a bit less than you normally would. If you are still hungry after a few minutes, take a little extra. Be more objective about how much you eat.
Let Go – This is more intellectual than physical. Allow your mind to give up and relax once in awhile. Remember, if there is one thing we can count on it’s change. Give yourself permission to flow down the river without grabbing onto the logs that block the current.
When we practice non-attachment, we are learning to clear the mind so that the act of possessiveness does not occlude our life force. We can (and should) still enjoy “things” in life. But, not to the detriment of others or at the risk of becoming unbalanced.
In the end, non-attachment opens the way to freedom for the soul.