Give It Up – Aparigaha

Yoga offers a concept called aparigraha, which loosely translates as “non attachment”, more commonly explained as “don’t be motivated by the outcome of what you do”. But we work for money, right? So we can eat, and pay for our home, etc. It’s not a very practical idea. Or is it?

Say someone wants to improve bad habits. The outcome would be better habits. But we all know that changing personal habits can be hard. Often we slip back to old ways without event realising it. If this person is only focused on the outcome then they could easily give up trying after just a few slips. Anyone that’s ever tried – and eventually succeeded – in giving up smoking will know what I mean.

It’s a crucial shade of meaning, and it’s extremely practical. We’ve got to want the outcome enough to keep trying, but we’re not doing it for the outcome. Or rather, we cultivate a new approach to life. An approach in which we engage continuously with the process of what we have going on, rather than being goal oriented. Regardless of success or failure, we never stop getting on with the things we need to do.

In this way, aparigraha (for a web search, type in “Yoga yamas”) is the meaning of “living in the moment”, and the end result of our mindfulness practice.

The quite wonderful implication of aparigraha is that every perceived “failure” is just part of the process. Imperfections really are perfect: each event tessellates perfectly into the pattern we weave through life.

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