Guest post by Mary Dana Abbott
I like stuff. Pretty things, shiny things, new things, and cool old things. I like words and winning arguments. I consider it a lucky coincidence that I found yoga: a keenly reflective and rigorously honest personal practice that constantly reminds that there is much more to living than the stuff we collect, including our thoughts.
Aparigraha (non-hoarding, non-possessiveness, or non-greediness) is the Yoga Sutra’s timeless teaching that less is more. Patanjali bestows on us the wisdom that we cannot be free in mind, body and spirit, with heavy baggage. What we put in this bag might be literal things, people, thoughts, words, and time.
In order to travel more lightly, we best learn how to stop filling up in the first place. Society bombards our senses with slogans telling us that we are not complete without x, y & z. Simplification might seem impossible to squeeze into our busy lives. So how do we begin to unpack our baggage? Start where you are. Here are some suggestions:
*Give space away: Instead of diving first for that seat on the bus or subway, stand. Let someone in a hurry go in front of you at the checkout line. Make room for someone in yoga class, even if it means you lose your favorite spot.
* Give things away: Examine your stacks and piles; when in doubt, pass it on. What we have might express who we are, but sometimes it just reflects who we were and wanted to be. Pass it on to charity or give to friends.
*Listen: Have a conversation without someone without considering your response to fully give them your attention. In other words, hear them! Notice when your attention wavers and why and don’t be afraid to let your mind be changed.
*Travel often and lightly: Get away more often and see different places and cultures. Prioritize life experiences over things. Unplug from the internet and phone-it’s clutter too. Plan when you pack and take necessities only.
*Stay open on the mat: Notice when your practice becomes another item to check off. See if you can hear to the conversation between breath and body, and let the mind take the backseat.
*Meditate: We cannot know what thoughts we hold on to without identifying them. See if you can recognize thinking patterns that no longer serve you and practice letting them go.
*Let your plans be fluid: Nothing ever works out exactly as planned, so why not loosen the grip just a bit so there is room for spontaneity and inspiration?
Try these out and listen for your own clues as to how you can lighten your own load and pay attention to how that affects your life.
We are in shared space and on borrowed time, so why not test the balance and see what happens when you reach for a little less and give a little more.
Join Mary Dana and Felipe on retreat at Villa Sumaya from May 27 to June 1. Learn more!