Chapter Seven | Time to Practice Aparigraha
The Art of Non-Attachment
Today started with “Trennungsschmerz” as Lisa called it, a case of feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of her and Laura leaving the ashram today. After living here together for a month, they managed to get on an embassy flight to Amsterdam and took off after breakfast. There are still 8 of us here now, and it’s not the thought of feeling alone, but it is fair to say that we got along very well and have formed friendships that will last for life. I have no doubt that we will see each other again, maybe in Berlin, maybe in Bali, or maybe somewhere else altogether. For now, I am continuing my mission to surrender to the flow and dare I say, this provides an excellent opportunity to practice aparigraha, non-attachment. In yoga philosophy, the 8 limbs of yoga provide guidance to live by when it comes to your attitude and behaviours towards others (yamas) and towards yourself (niyamas). Aparigraha, the fifth of the yamas, suggests to not get attached to other people and too many worldly possessions. You should take only what is necessary, what you have earned and without exploiting anyone else in the process. A minimalistic lifestyle when it comes to possessions is hence said to unburden the soul and allow you to live with a greater sense of freedom. I have always felt liberated when doing clear outs and throwing things away or donating clothes I no longer wear or need. As for people you have come to like, it usually proves more challenging. Whether you’ve met someone twice, or lived with people in lockdown for a month, when there is a connection, there is also pain that will come up at the point of goodbye. In this case it manifested itself as physical pain, short an sharp, like ripping off the band-aid. I know they were both super excited to have gotten onto this flight and so looking forward to getting home. While my ego driven mind selfishly would have liked them to stay - perhaps also because their departure brings change and the ego usually resists change - I am so grateful to have met them and happy that we had the time together that we were given. I guess this is what non-attachment means. Not that you like or love people any less, but that you appreciate their company when you have it, and with an open heart wish them well when they set off on their own path.
There is little point in reminiscing and resisting the situation. The only way forward is with acceptance and gratitude. Surrendering and letting go, I am excited to see what’s next. I am trusting that there is a plan and I am waiting for life’s next move. She knows what she is doing better than anyone else, including me. This notion by the way comes from The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer, a book that was recommended to me twice within a couple of days recently. Having thoroughly enjoyed his other book, The Untethered Soul, I started reading and couldn’t put it down. Michael shares how he started meditating more and more in his early twenties in an attempt to quiet his mind after he first realised in a moment of clarity, that he could just observe the voice in his head without getting tangled up in its mad thought patterns. When this only got him so far on his spiritual journey, he decided to completely surrender to life’s flow and when situations presented themselves to him, he would accept them and agree to people’s requests, even if his mind driven personal preferences would not agree. As I read all his tales of universal guidance and how one ‘coincidence’ led to the next and series of events led to him building various successful companies as well as continually growing spiritually, I couldn’t help but feel inspired and emotional as this resonated so much with me. To conclude, we find ourselves in difficult times just now. Lockdowns and self-isolation bring about different challenges for different people. If you live by yourself and are struggling with feelings of loneliness, perhaps this thought can provide a little solace: There is another concept in yoga philosophy called parinamavada. It refers to the fact that everything is in a state of change and flux all the time and that tomorrow, we will not see things in the same way that we we are seeing them today. Constant change is a challenge for the ego, but during hard times it also gives us hope, knowing that this too shall pass. And with some luck and surrendering to the universal guidance, this crisis will raise the global consciousness to much higher frequencies and when we look back to this moment in time in years to come, we may even find it in our heart to be grateful to have been here, on this planet, that is spinning around in the middle of nowhere, when it all happened. Stay tuned for more stories of my ashram life. Lots of love, Jessy