One of the fundamental principles of a yoga lifestyle is ‘aparigraha’ which means ‘non-grasping’ or ‘non-coveting’. Even those of us not on a spiritual path have heard about the trappings of the ego and how the pursuit of ‘non-attachment’ can lead to an existence free from the ups and downs triggered by fluctuations in our external environment. Someone living from a place of ego (most of us) will likely experience elation when we are complimented and devastation when we are betrayed. We may feel satisfied with ourselves when we complete a task…then when that wears off, we go looking for the next thing to validate us and make us feel whole.
From a spiritual perspective, this constant seeking – or as the Vipassana Buddhists refer to as the endless cycle of ‘craving/aversion’ is what keeps us from being truly free. I try to practice ‘aparigraha’ as often as I can. I’m not very good at it, but when I find myself grasping at something, it gives me an opportunity to see myself more clearly and to see where there is work that needs to be done.
I had an experience a few years ago that powerfully demonstrated how external circumstances trigger emotional highs and lows. I was listening to a radio show and there was a contest: Call in and if they pull your birth month from a hat, you win $1000. If they then pull your actual birthdate, you win $10 000. I have never called in to a radio show, but somehow felt like today was my lucky day. The line was free and it rang! My heart started thumping as I imagined what I would do with my winnings. Suddenly, I heard the D.J greet someone on to the show. It wasn’t me..so I hung up. I listened. After exchanging pleasantries, they pulled the month. April, My birth month. I instantly felt robbed of $1000! Next they pulled the date: the 20th. My jaw dropped. That is my birthday! I had just missed out on $10 000! It was fascinating for me to witness my reaction to this, My nervous system went haywire and feelings of disbelief and injustice washed over me. I marvelled at how it felt so real that I had just ‘lost’ something that essentially was never mine and never even existed! I was the same person I was a few minutes earlier only now I somehow felt like I had less! Nothing is really ours. We don’t actually ‘own’ anything whether it be a stack of money, a yoga posture or a relationship. We certainly don’t get to take any of our possessions with us to the grave! All we have is this moment and our breath. We are all abundant, we are all whole. Possessions come and go but they do not add or subtract from our essence, our inherent completeness.
I relayed this story to my mom and she, ever the optimist, exclaimed delightedly ‘Do you know what this means?! This means you are ‘this close’ to incredible luck and fortune! It’s just around the corner!’. And when I look within, it is in fact, already here.