For the month of May, we decided to practice Aparigraha, non-greed, one of the ethical principles given in the Yoga Sutras as the foundation of all Yoga practice. Practicing these principles begins in the most basic ways. Hence, non-greed is practiced first of all by refraining from the unnecessary accumulation of possessions, and by refusing to accept bribes or any gift that would oblige us to compromise our values.
A perhaps deeper approach to this practice comes from considering why we feel a need to acquire things in the first place. The various ways we practice Yoga, such as selfless service, Hatha Yoga or meditation, which quiet the desiring mind, offer us opportunities to touch a wellspring of contentment or inner peace. Even a taste of this inner fulfillment lays a foundation for moderating what we seek and feel we need.
We can practice Aparigraha in many ways. We can sort out unneeded clothing, furniture and miscellaneous possessions and offer them to stores that will make it available to others. We can regift things that we don’t need as acts of kindness or expressions of love. With practice, refraining from greed can evolve into positive actions like generosity.
Generosity arises naturally from the sense of deep connection that we experience when we practice Yoga and free ourselves from the limiting thoughts that divide us. Generosity can take many forms: a warm smile, taking time to appreciate someone or a silent prayer offered with sincerity to uplift a friend. Simply listening to someone with full attention can be a powerful way to offer support and care.
Sharing the gifts and blessings we have received with others is a natural impulse when we acknowledge our abundance and escape the self-centered messages of our culture. Sharing generously opens our hearts to the love and compassion that is our true nature and is ultimately more fulfilling than keeping things for ourselves.