To refresh, the five yamas (codes of conduct) of Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path are:
- Ahimsa (non-aggression or non-violence)
- Satyam (truthfulness)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (continence)
- Aparigraha (non-coveting).
We previously looked at the fourth yama – Brahmacharya (continence). Now, let’s explore the fifth yama – aparigraha in more detail.
Aparigraha is often interpreted as non-greed or non-coveting. It is the abstention from possessiveness, greed, selfishness and acquisitiveness. Aparigraha is about accepting what one has and being mindful when giving and receiving. In our contemporary consumerist society, this concept of simple living is a difficult one for many to grasp especially when we just have to get the new iPhone 5 or the latest gadgets or fashion items. Ask yourself how many computer devices you own – a phone (perhaps more than one?), a computer, a laptop, an iPad… anything else? Aparigraha invites us to choose simple living by looking at our lives and asking ourselves the right questions – do we need this extra item? Am I being greedy? Is what I have enough? Will I truly be happy with more possessions?
In essence, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy or having many possessions; however it is the attitude of consumerism and attachment to possessions that can be harmful. No doubt we have seen how wealth can lead to greed and excessive absorption of earthly cares in famous figures and even people that we know personally.
So instead of focusing on what we do not have or what we need more of…let us draw our attention to gratitude.
I started a gratitude journal about two years ago when I had a miscarriage. I was absolutely devastated and I found it hard to get out of my sadness. This journal I found is an App on the iPhone so it was really easy to use and something I wouldn’t forget to do. Each night I would record what I felt gratitude for that day or in life in general. This simple practice really helped bring me back to a positive outlook on life.
I read this quote once ‘if you can’t change it, then change the way you think about it’ and I found a daily gratitude journal helped me maintain a positive outlook each and every day, even the tough ones.
So how do you practice aparigraha in your life?
Do you take more than you need?
How do you show gratitude for what you already have?
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”
~ Melodie Beattie