Though it may seem fairly cliché to look back at the end of the year and take stock of one’s life, it is nevertheless still a worthwhile action. During such times of reflection we are encouraged by the wise among us to practice gratitude for the goodness we’ve received and also for the challenging, difficult or less than perfect parts of our lives. Of course, it’s easy to give thanks when things go our way, but it takes some seasoning and maturity to see difficulty or misfortune as equal threads in the fabric of our lives.
This has been a personal problem for me. Even when things are good, I may often see them as not quite good enough. When serendipity comes my way I am apt to be glad of it, but also disappointed that the boon did not include some greater more satisfying aspect. This continuous grasping or lack of contentment defaces my joy and sours the honey of life’s treasures. It is a crime I commit against myself and the universe of all beings. When I trespass upon providence by criticizing the bounty of its measure I participate in a form of blasphemy. I not only issue a kind of childish psychic complaint, but I bruise or disable the conduit through which my blessings are generated.
Yoga, the ever-dependable universal tool box, offers two explicit and direct concepts to steer me away from my deficient attitudes: aparigraha and santosha.
Parigrah is synonymous with craving, greed, hoarding and possessiveness. The addition of the prefix “a” equals “non”. So by practicing aparigraha I may restrain myself from grasping, lusting and reaching for things in a way that upsets my mental/emotional balance. Upsetting myself in this way may sound benign, but it is the kind of calamity that can be compared to the capsizing of a boat; it can mean utter and complete disaster. Aparigraha and santosha are the attitudes that lead away from poverty toward practical, sustainable bounty.
Santosha helps me to embody the opposite of Parigrah; it is about contentment and satisfaction. Practicing santosha helps me to be comfortable where I am and with what I have in a full and complete way. The corrosive agent of malcontent on the other hand acts as a poison that leads to a chronic state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion that will eventually present itself as dis-ease.
Satisfaction and contentment are also in perfect alignment with goal setting and achieving greater of expression of my potential. Indeed, santosha helps to me express confidence in the infinite supply of the universe as I connect with that generosity through my goals.
Coveting, hoarding and constant grasping are manifestations of fear, want and lack. If I allow fear to govern my approach to life I constrict the universal flow of plenty.
When I am gratefully content with my present situation the stage is set for me to receive the unlimited potential of all goodness.
Aparigraha and santosha come to us from the first limb of yoga, yama and niyama respectively. These are the ethical considerations of yoga or the precepts of wise living.
As we begin the year it is worthwhile to look back at where we’ve been and forward to where we’d like to go. Availing ourselves of all the eight limbs of yoga, beginning with yama and niyama, will serve us well as we integrate them into our lives. Indeed, they are here to assist us in achieving our yoga or union with the divine or the great unlimited power of universal creation.
May your new year be healthy, happy, prosperous and fulfilling as you practice the yoga of boundless potential.
As always I would love to hear from you about how yoga is transforming your life experiences.