Life is made of many moments – big and small. Each moment is special but if you end up being attached to all of them, you will find it difficult to break free. Unfortunately, if you are not able to break free, you do not experience the serenity of ultimate freedom.
In the ancient texts of Hinduism as well as Jainism, Aparigraha has been identified as one of the central teachings that govern the way we live. In a nutshell, practicing aparigraha offers us the freedom to do what we want without investing the time and energy to worry about the outcome that the future holds.
The one thing that we need to progress in life is complete peace of mind. This peace of mind comes from learning to let go of any and every material possession. Yes! Do not cling on to moments, no matter how valuable they are. The simple mantra to stay happy is to learn to focus on the present and let go of your tensions from the past as well as worries of the future.
Practice aparigraha because it will help you experience contentment of mind-body, and make it easier for you to work towards improving your present. In this article, we focus on understanding the importance of aparigraha, their advantages and how you can lead a happier life using this technique.
Aparigraha is the practice of learning to detach oneself from people, objects and moments to focus on leading a happy and purposeful life.
Do you wish that you could stay young forever or your parents could be with you forever? Does the thought of holding on to possession, memory or person, plague your mind when you are trying to focus on the present? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you are yet to experience the benefits of aparigraha.
The practice of aparigraha teaches you to avoid unnecessary accumulation and teaches your mind to accept that none of what you are piling up will accompany you in your death.
The only thing that you will be accountable for is your deeds. Focus on just what you need and you will be able to lead a happier life. Even the ancient scriptures in Bhagavad Gita reiterate these teachings.
The Pronunciation of Aparigraha
Before you narrow down to the benefits of this ancient yogic practice, let us understand what aparigraha is. To do this, let us start by breaking down the word. So first comes graha which means to seek. Then comes pari which means all. The use of a indicates non. Now when we combine the words, it boils down to meaning not to take more than what one needs.
Therefore, aparigraha is the practice of learning to be content with what one has. Stop running behind what you do not have and learn to make the most of what you already have.
Interestingly, the word aparigraha is an antonym of the word parigraha which means the desire to accumulate material possessions. Of course, this desire is very addictive. The short term satisfaction that it provides often makes it a temptation.
But the practice of yoga teaches you to look for the bigger picture and therefore takes you away from this temptation. Needless to say that it will take some time to break the shackles, free your mind, and attain spiritual enlightenment. But you can start by joining a yoga class!
What Are Yamas?
Yamas are things to avoid when practicing yoga. Adherence to yamas and niyamas help you follow the path of yoga. This, in turn, helps you lead a happier life-both physically and mentally.
These yamas and niyamas are like the guidelines to follow when practicing yoga. Therefore, they are like the limbs of yoga. The benefits of yoga sutra can be attained only if we incorporate these guidelines in our day to day life. Aparigraha is one of the five yamas of yoga practice. In addition to aparigraha, the other four yamas of yoga practice are:
- Ahimsa meaning non-violence
- Satya which means truthfulness
- Asteya which means non-stealing
- Brahmacharya or celibacy
As is clear, the practice of these four yamas is relatively easier to incorporate. You can seek the guidance of a yoga teacher to practice these yamas or take a conscious effort to practice them in your day to day life. But aparigraha often gets ignored.
What Are Niyamas?
Niyamas are the list of things that one is expected to do when adhering to the path of yoga. Together, yamas and niyamas are like the foundation of yoga. The niyamas are like constructive tools that train your mind to break free of the bonds of stress and live your life to the fullest.
There are five niyamas that one needs to adhere to in order to attain inner peace and content in their life. These niyamas are as listed below:
- Self-purification or cleansing of mind, body, and consciousness
- Santosh or the practice of being content. This will teach you to stop complaining about the things that you do not have.
- Meditation where you should learn to evaluate your thoughts and meditate before acting impulsively.
- Surrender to your inner self wherein the person must learn to have unshakable faith in a supreme power so that they can focus on completing the task and stop worrying about the results.
There is a wide range of food, thoughts and emotions that seek entry into our body, at any point in time. Therefore, you need to learn to wisely select the inputs that go into your body in order to experience the physical and mental benefits of yoga.
How Do Niyamas and Yamas Help?
Yoga has been prescribed as the way of life in the ancient texts of Hinduism. The yoga sutras have been laid down in detail to help people overcome their fears and attain spiritual enlightenment. The path to yoga consists of eight aspects. Yamas and Niyamas are just two of these aspects.
They are supposed to guide us in our journey of life. Therefore, the practice of yamas (including aparigraha) and niyamas is a journey and never a destination. It is important for you to understand that adherence to these yamas and niyamas helps you improve with each passing day.
6 Benefits of Practicing Aparigraha in Yoga
Now that we are aware of the meaning of aparigraha, its origin as well as its importance in yoga, let us move on to take a look at the benefits of practicing aparigraha in yoga.
1. You attain knowledge
The practice of aparigraha teaches you to look beyond the obvious and therefore helps you attain higher knowledge. Our ancient texts provide interesting insights into the laws of karma, how the cycle of life works and the idea of supreme power.
However, since most of us are bound by our desire to increase our material possessions, we tend to overlook this knowledge. When you master the practice of aparigraha, it teaches the mind to detach itself from such possessions and divert its energy to understand the purpose of your birth, your karma and accordingly helps you attain self-realization.
2. Aparigraha helps you to learn to be self-reliant
This is another advantage of practicing aparigraha. The mind teaches you to develop confidence in your abilities and skills. You stop worrying about the dependency on others because you learn to believe that you can accomplish things on your own. Slowly and gradually, this practice helps you become self-reliant.
3. You enjoy life better
The minute you stop worrying about the possibilities that the future holds, you learn to enjoy the present. The practice of aparigraha teaches you to leave behind your worries about the past and future. You need to make the most of what you have in the present.
This simple mantra is the secret to a life of happiness and contentment. Also, since this practice involves learning to be self-reliant, you stop depending on others to attain your happiness.
4. You learn to embrace change
One of the big reasons that lead to most of our worries and tensions is the fear of change. Many of us are so afraid to step out of the comfort zones that we go to great lengths to prevent even the possibility. However, change is inevitable. Wise men have said that change happens to be the only constant in one’s life.
The practice of aparigraha teaches you to detach yourself from all types of material possessions. This makes it easier for you to accept change, even embrace it when the time comes.
5. Aparigraha helps you to learn to love unconditionally
Love is one of the major investments when it comes to sustaining any relationship. But when we love someone, we also tend to harbour some expectations from them. When you master the art of aparigraha, you will understand that it is unfair to harbour such expectations. You need to do your bit and move on. The other person may or may not reciprocate the gesture with similar warmth.
6. You stop comparing
Often, the reason for our discontent in life arises from comparing our wealth, acquisitions, talent, etc. with others. But when you stop comparing with others, these problems tend to disappear. In simple terms, you learn to place yourself above the unnecessary social pressure of showing off.
How to Put Aparigraha into Practice?
The successful implementation of aparigraha in your life will help you attain the next stage of mental satisfaction. The trick lies in understanding the simple ways to implement it in your daily life. You can also view this interesting video by Swami Vivekananda on the practice of Aparigraha.
Aparigraha Practice for Daily Life:
1. Get rid of the clutter
The first step towards practicing aparigraha in yoga is to learn to let go. Dig deeper and identify what is it that you need. Once you have that clarity, work towards getting rid of the unnecessary baggage that you really need.
2. Learn to forgive
The most difficult part of the practice of aparigraha is to let go. This can start with a simple practice of learning to forgive. People may not live up to your expectations and that is perfectly normal. You should not hold it against them. Learn to forget and forgive. This simple trick will help clear a lot of baggage from your consciousness.
3. Observe life
The trick is to observe and not attach yourself to the proceedings in life. For instance, observe the cycles in nature – be it the flowering of trees or the raindrops being absorbed by the rain. There are so many beautiful things to observe and admire in mother nature.
Observing these things will give you a chance to get the perspective of the larger things in life. This, in turn, gives you a chance to improve your knowledge and walk towards the path of self-realization.
In order to implement the practice of aparigraha, it is important to learn to meditate. The purpose is to go through everything and evaluate your thoughts as well as actions. Based on the evaluation, you need to train the mind to look at the bigger picture and stop holding on to the concerns of the past as well as the future.
On a Parting Note
The practice of aparigraha includes the art of living a simple life. You need to stop worrying about what has gone by or what will come your way. Instead, you learn to enjoy the present. Implementing the techniques of aparigraha takes some time but you need to be patient and continue investing the efforts.
Gradually, it will pave the way for some wonderful results. You need to enjoy the process as it unfolds. This happens when you start believing in the benefits. Just remember that aparigraha is a way of life and not a temporary phase.
A freelancer by profession, Kavita writes on a variety of topics, mental health being one of her favorites. Fond of traveling, socializing and meeting new people, most of her inspiration for writing comes from real-life scenarios as well as experiences. Her motto in life has always been to look for a reason to smile.