aparigraha: acknowledging abundance

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ayurveda / Blog / Writing

In The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Joy Devi explains Yoga Sutra 2.29 + the concept of abundance (aparigrapha) —

“Acknowledging abundance, we recognize the blessings in everything & gain insights into the purpose of our worldly existence,” – Yoga Sutra 2.29, Nischala Joy Devi, The Secret Power of Yoga

Deborah Adele describes aparigraha as relating to the present moment — being immersed & engaged in “life and one another.”

More traditional interpretations of this sutra as non-attachment or non-possessiveness offer an additional dimension. If we are not present-centered, it is likely that we are holding on to something in the past or perhaps worrying about something yet to come in the future. In either direction, we are being held by or attaching ourselves to something — a distraction from the abundance each moment offers. These states are different from reflection or manifestation, in that awareness is infused throughout.

In practicing aparigraha from the elemental lens of Ayurveda, we create the space to be free within the fullness of the present moment, allowing for an easeful sense of balance. In Ayurveda, balance creates sattvic energy, corresponding with the gentle warmth + glow of the element of fire and an even distribution throughout the elements. Within the ease of the present moment, we are ready to both share and receive. By contrast, if we hold on, there is a heaviness attached to its maintenance, blocking the flow of receiving. This type of holding creates tamasic energy, corresponding to the elements of earth + water. If we are future-focused, there is an anxiety attached to its maintenance, cutting off the outward flow of sharing. This type of attachment creates rajastic energy, corresponding to the elements of air + space.

This sutra invokes attuning with the energy within + around us, which involves an intelligence around holding on & letting go. In this sense, we can turn to the breath as a guide. With each inhale, we fill with nourishing energy. We do not hold on to this breath forever. We exhale to empty, finding ourselves poised to receive once again, and the cycle continues. The breath teaches us a sensitivity toward non-permanence — the transient nature of life, mental states, emotional states, physical ailments, and even nature itself in its changing seasons.

With the beginning of the final month of the year can come a sense of urgency — a rush to the finish line of the year. We will soon transition from fall into winter. The shorter & darker days we are now experiencing will soon begin to become longer & lighter. Notice and align with nature. If we allow aparigraha to enter our lives, we can slow down to enjoy the richness of the season, the introspection it offers as we contemplate with awareness the coming year, and rest in the abundance of the “doux présent de la présent” (the sweet present of the present moment, Jacques Prévert, Allicante).

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The Author

yogi + registered yoga teacher + life-long student of the eight-limbed path

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