One of my favorite definitions of yoga is “our connection to reality.” Yoga connects us to what is. Aparigraha literally means nongrasping, or open handedness, and it frees us up to receive reality in the present moment. When we unclench our minds and fists from grasping at the past or the future, we become openminded to receive the present. For this reason, Aparigraha is a constant practice. Receiving reality and staying connected to it, without filtering experiences through our past traumas, future wishes, and other veils takes presence of mind.
Aparigraha is another way of describing the yogic practice of “being” instead of “doing.” When we are connected to reality, we receive the present moment in a state of “being” without having to “do” any holding on or attachment to it.
We’ll use mudra meditation again this week to tap into a powerful hand gesture that mimics the flow of reality in the present moment. Place your left hand with palm facing up in your lap and your right hand palm flat on your heart. Spend a few breaths centering yourself here; deepening and steadying your breath through the nose and back of the throat. Then begin moving your right palm away from your chest until it reaches about 12 inches away, then gradually hover your hand nearer to your chest until it floats about an inch or two above your sternum. Keep moving your hand in time with your breath. Inhale, and move your palm away from you, symbolizing your expanded state to receive all of reality just as it is without an filters or grasping. Exhale, and move your palm to hover just above your chest at heartlevel to symbolize your centeredness in this experience of Aparigraha. Continue the breath and the hand gesture for up to 12 minutes meditation. If you need added help to center the mind, try also mentally reciting the mantra “i am” each time you inhale and exhale. This mantra reminds you that you are both centered and expanded, capable of receiving all of reality in its present form, just as it is comes to you.
Forgiveness can be a powerful part of Aparigraha. Forgiveness is the art of mentally and emotionally releasing a past grudge. It frees the mind and heart to focus on other things instead of the past, like receiving the present moment. Today I invite you to journal on things you might be willing to forgive from the big to the small. Are you still holding a grudge and mentally attached to the idea that you are right, and you’ve been wronged? Write it down and explore what it would take for you to release the grudge from your mental space and heart, where it is binding you in knots. You don’t have to share the forgiveness with the “perpetrator” this is just a practice to free your own self from staying bound up in the past. One tool I often use to help me get to forgiveness is thinking about how the other person was probably doing their best, even though I got hurt or didn’t like the outcome, even though sometimes the actions/words are totally inappropriate and inexcusable my forgiveness is not an excuse for them to behave badly or hurt me again. My forgiveness is internal and personal. It is a gift I give myself in order to free myself from being tangled up in the past, so that I can more fully live in the present. So we journal the question “what am I ready to let go of today?”
Connection is a powerful part of Aparigraha to stay connected to the present moment, without attachment to past and future. Today I invite you to cultivate a presence practice through mindful interaction. Make eye contact when speaking and listening. Hug someone with your whole body and breath. Scan the scenery around you as you walk or jog the neighborhood. Let someone know you are thinking of them when they cross your mind. Enjoy the experience of expanding your awareness, just by being more present to reality as it presents itself to you in each moment.