“Without continuous change, it would be impossible to grow.”
In wrapping up my philosophy discussion on aparigraha (the fifth yama) with my George Washington University yoga class last week, I concluded with the following reading from Charlotte Bell’s Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life – a simple, down-to-earth book on the 8 limbs of yoga. After class a couple students asked me to share the reading. So here it is:
“Freedom does not come from acquisition. It comes from letting go. In the same way rotten vegetables in our refrigerator occupy space that could be filled with fresh, vital foods, the habits we grasp onto for security stultify us. We can’t move forward in our lives when we cling to the past. When we set out habits, our beliefs, and our ways of living in concrete, we become imprisoned by them. Letting go of what is no longer appropriate in our lives releases us to all possibilities.
The fifth yama is aparigraha, nonattachment. Aparigraha is also sometimes translated as “nongreed” or “nongrasping“. Nonattachment is one of the basic tenets of Buddhist practice. The Buddha considered attachment to be a root cause of suffering. Because all things are impermanent, seeking security by holding on to things that will, by their very nature, always go away creates pain and suffering. How many possessions, practices, jobs, people, animals, relationships, and even identities have you held for a time and then let go? The number is truly staggering for all of us.
Sometimes we do not choose to let go; the circumstances of our lives often dictate that we must. Relationships dissolve. Once inspiring-careers become stagnant, and we are moved to create something new. Friends and relatives come and go; they move away or pass away. Our bodies change as we age. Sometimes disease dictates that we change our lives radically.
When we experience a loss, or when it comes time to let go of something we hold dear, it is natural to mourn. It is nearly impossible not to wonder how much easier or better our lives might be if our circumstances could continue as usual. But the reality of living is that our lives change constantly. Without continuous change, it would be impossible to grow. It is in letting go of the old, the things we no longer need, that makes room in our lives for whatever is to come.”