Aparigraha (Non-grasping/Non-hoarding)

by Charlotte Vetter

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We must choose between our happiness and our attachments.
— Adyashanti
It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
— Thoreau
We can live wisely only when can accept the reality of change.

Aparigraha, being non-possessive, applies to material objects, our bodies, and our thoughts.

Why do we hold on so tightly?

We hold on because we are afraid of change, we prefer our comfort zone. We like to have control, or think we have control, of how things will be.  Our ego feeds on grasping.  We want things to last forever. 

We suffer when we try to hold onto things, relationships, our bodies, our thoughts, because the nature of our reality is change.  Everything is always changing, nothing can stay the same. We must learn to walk through life with “open palms,” allowing for all to pass through us to avoid this type of suffering.  This suffering that comes with grasping can manifest in many ways… Read below to see some examples of how to practice non-grasping.

Types of “hoarding” or “grasping” and remedies

Grasping onto THOUGHTS

Non-possessiveness of the heart-mind means not holding onto rigid opinions and not regarding our ideas as our own.  Whenever we come up with something new, it is important to remember that we are just tapping into knowledge that already exists (isvara).  When a dark or unpleasant thought comes, remember that you are not your thoughts. Allow your thoughts to move through you like water as it moves down the river, with ease.  This can also manifest as resentments; the remedy for feeling resentful is forgiveness. Try writing a letter to someone or something that you feel resentment towards and then LET IT GO (maybe burn it in a fire).

Grasping onto STUFF

The ego constructs our identity and can hold us hostage to our belongings.  The ego thinks we are our body, our mind, and our thoughts and feelings. As we accumulate material goods, fame, fortune, our ego becomes emboldened.  When we step back and realize how surface level these identifications are, that they are based on outer characteristics instead of inner ones, then it is time to reverse our course and turn inward.

The remedy for this is to reject the concept of “mine” and to try to see beyond what the ego is telling you.  “Buy more, get more, look prettier.” Notice this is just a voice in your head, that it is not the real you. And this will not actually make you feel better.  It is your ego. Ask, what is my sankalpa, what is my deepest heartfelt desire for this life?

Another technique is to approach life with a curious heart and mind, which will help free you from grasping onto things.  Ask yourself with kind curiosity, do I really need this? Will this really make me feel better? Just ask yourself, that’s all.

I’ve found that lightening my load has freed up time and money for me to spend in other ways, especially in developing my yoga practice and exploring inward.

“The more we experience our pure light of awareness, the less interest we will have in material possessions.”

More ways to incorporate Aparigraha into your practice - on and off the mat!

Each Yama and Niyama has a pose (asana) and a hand gesture or shape (mudra) associated with it as well as a mantra (sanskrit phrases or prayers).  Try practicing the pose, the mudra, or the mantra while thinking about Aparigraha.


Ganesha Mudra:

Start with your palms facing each other at heart level.  The right thumb will be down, the left thumb will be up. The fingers of each hand will touch each other softly with knuckles softly bent.  Interlock your fingers and pull your hands away from each other with hands and elbows parallel to the floor.


Pasasana (Noose Pose):

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From chair pose (Utkatasana), bend your knees and lower your hips to your heels.  Stay high on the balls of your feet and then twist to your left (then right), with your hands in Ganesha Mudra.  Your opposite elbow will rest outside the opposite knee (left elbow will rest outside the right knee and vice versa).  Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale to twist more deeply, wringing and squeezing out that which you do not need and thereby finding gratitude for the abundance that you already have. 


Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

Chant this mantra to aid in the removal of obstacles.  Ganesha helps us see creative ways to work through something challenging that might have been blocked before using the mantra.

Ways to incorporate Aparigraha into your life:

30 days of Aparigraha:

  • Pay attention to your breath in practice.  It is on our mat—with our breath—that we begin to practice the teachings of Aparigraha.  If we hold onto the breath too long, its healing qualities turn toxic. 

  • Every day, practice 10 minutes of Kumbakaya pranayama before you do ANYTHING; wake up and do this: inhale 4 counts, hold 4, exhale 4, hold 4. 

  • Do 9 sun salutations with a prostration right after you do cobra (lying all the way flat on your belly with your palms FACE UP)

  • Work with mantra: “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha”

  • Remain in the seat of curiosity when confronted with difficult thoughts.  Is this thought real? What else is there? 

  • Clean your closet. 

  • FORGIVE.  Forgive immediately.  Do whatever you need to do to make this happen, whether it is calling this person, or writing a letter and burning it.  Do it.

  • Hang out in nature.  Nature reminds us that change is inevitable.  Sit with this knowing. Everything changes.

  • Make a commitment to yourself to just try; try the practice of non-grasping.  See how you feel. 

  • Meditate on your ego.  See if you can find the difference between the you and your ego. 

Wishing you luck on the lifelong journey that is non-grasping.  This is something I practice daily. Remember it is a practice. Practice makes practice.  May you find ease in letting go of that which no longer serves you. OM OM OM. 

Questions? Comments? Want to let us know how it’s going? Email us at info@mettayogastudio.com.

Copyright 2019 Metta Yoga, LLC