Last week in the topic around compassion, I was struck by these words out of Jack Kornfield’s book, “The Wise Heart'”:
“The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to life without armoring. As the poet Rilke reminds us, “Ultimately it is on our vulnerability that we depend”.”
After having collected so many ‘tools’ for our backpack as we journey through life in these practices for the past couple of months, this quote was making me contemplate laying it all down. Laying down all of our tools, thoughts, essences of self, and just stepping forth with wild abandon! I have this image of a Being, naked and hair blowing in the wind, standing tall in the face of the thick and dangerous forest; holding nothing and yet so unafraid. This Being exudes such grace, strength, love, boldness, and true sense of Self.
What if you began to let go a little more each day of the things that you don’t need. What if you donated some of those clothes in the back of your closet? What if you cleaned out that cupboard of mugs that you rarely use? What if you let go of that belief that you’re not worthy of love? What if you quiet once and for all that voice that tells you you’re not capable?
Of course I think of Marie Kondo, and Minimalists, including my husband, but I also think of aparigraha, non-possessiveness. If you want an INCREDIBLE organizer for your life, look no further than Inwood, NYC, by the way! Call Amanda Sullivan, The Perfect Daughter, for ALL your needs! I know from personal experience how wonderful she is! She helped me organize my taxes before I had a husband that LOVED doing taxes, but she also will organize your house, closet, or whatever else you want to clear up! And, buy her book, “Organized Enough: the anti-perfectionists guide to getting – and staying – organized”. And, no, she doesn’t even know I am putting this in my blog, lol. This is NOT a paid advertisement, lol!
Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming…
Aparigraha Is one of the five yamas, or “restraints”, within the ethical practices of yoga as laid out by the sage Patanjali’s in his texts, the yoga sutras.
In her book on the yamas and niyamas, the Deborah Adele writes, “What if we could trust life like we trust the breath? What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and then let it go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come?”-‘The Yamas & Niyamas: exploring yoga’s ethical practice’
What if we really and truly trust life is always sending us the next nourishing and supportive thing in perfect timing? In her book Deborah Adele introduces the idea of the trapeze artist; hence my trapeze pictures from 2012! Trusting, they have to let go and then be suspended for a brief moment midair as they reach for the next, and then take a hold. If they hold on too long they’ll miss the opportunity of receiving the next swinging bar that’s coming for them. So many questions pop up in my mind’s I am when I think of this, such as; How do we know when to let go? How can we trust our own innate timing more? How can we ultimately trust that the universe has our back? How can I live with a sense of wild abandon?! And to that I answer with this quote…
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”-Buddha
To know we are life itself, to know we are love itself, to let go of the idea that there even is a path to begin with, this is to let go of that illusion. We are divine, we are life, we are the expansion and contraction and everything. We are this moment. Trust. Use your intuition and discernment. Listen to your heart, it knows.
Rupi Kaur writes, “You do not belong to the future or the past, you belong right here.”
“Aparigraha invites us to practice divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then to let go so the next thing can come. It is how our adikara, or competency, grows and how we become more who we are capable of becoming.”-Deborah Adele. We can build our competency and our capacity! Capacity to let go and to be ever more present in each moment, present to life.
But even as I write those last words above, I feel and hear that innate whisper in my mind that this is a difficult task, to attempt to truly stay in the moment. As example, I’ve lived some really beautiful experiences in my lifetime and I’ve known some very difficult moments, but can I let go of the past? And, as another example, I have great dreams for the future of myself and my family! I don’t want to give up striving towards them. But this is where I think there’s a little distinction between surrender and non-grasping, at least in the way i am thinking about it these days…
To me, surrender is more of a giving over and a letting go in a way where there is less action. Aparigraha, non-grasping, causes me to feel that they’re still actions being taken. This is where the wild abandon comes into play. This is not abandonment. This is a wild abandon that is remembering that we have all the tools we ever need within us, we always have, and we always will. So we can step out boldly, not holding on to any idea of who we are or who we think we need or should be, or who we’re even becoming, but to just be all in in the moment, be fully present, and go for it! What if we could trust life like we trust the breath?! And if I am life, this means I’m trusting myself! I belong here!
“Anything we cling to create some maintenance problem for us. The material items that we hoard, collect, buy because they are on sale or take because they are “free,” I’ll take up space and demand our attention. Storage boxes and sheds become an easy way to fool ourselves. Settle attachments come in the form of our images and beliefs about ourselves, about how life should be, about how others should be. These images keep us in bondage to our own learning and growth. Clutter in our physical space blocks our ability to physically move, while clutter in our minds blocks our freedom to expand and have space for the next thing life wants to bring to us.”- Deborah Adele
Out of her blog, Karen Karbo brings up the image of the big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton, and talks about wild abandon. He rides three-story tall waves! He has prepared and planned, but ultimately he has to let go and trust and feel and breathe. He has to ride the wave, he becomes the wave and the wave becomes him. There is no path, we are the path itself. He is all in! When was the last time you were all in? Was it on the dance floor at a party? Was it singing Happy Birthday for a friend? Was it having a serious talk with your partner or your children? Was it having a heart to heart with your parents? Was it soaking in a well-deserved bubble bath taking care of yourself? Was it sitting in meditation? All these questions make me want to ask the one great question, when was the last time you were your authentic self?!
In classes we used Ganesha mudra and I would close the class with Ganesha’s mantra, ‘om gam ganapatayei namaha’. Ganesha is the elephant deity who’s the remover of obstacles. Anything we hold on to is a maintenance problem said Deborah Adele, so may we remove the obstacles of seeing our self as less than, may we remove the obstacles of having too many physical items that we just never use, may we remove the obstacles of illusion, and may we dance freely sharing all of our beautiful colors to the world!
In some of my classes we worked up to the posture of svarga dvijasana, or bird of paradise pose. I love how ‘dvija’ means twice born. Even though the posture is named after the beautiful flower, birds are born twice. Once as the egg, but then the egg cracks revealing the raw, precious, infant bird who will continue to grow, spread its wings and fly! Aparigraha and non-grasping makes me feel like cracking our own shells, dropping the armor, and allowing our self to be vulnerable. On our vulnerability we depend. Step out wild and free.
I ended most of the classes with this Gabrielle Roth quote, “In many semantic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: when did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”
Breathe and Believe.