I find this the most fascinating of all the yamas: Aparigraha.
Aparigraha means non-grasping or non-possession. It encompasses both physical and psychologial possessions. People can easily become addicted to accumulating goods, power, knowledge or experiences. However, in order to be free, we need to be rid of this habit of accumulation.
This craving and clinging to objects or states of mind lead to us ultimately fearing their loss, which creates unhappiness.Thus an excessive focus on posessing things can interrupt our peace with this grasping cycle continuing.
If we uncover the reasons why we are clinging to something or grasping for more, we may become more understanding of ourselves and others. Most people hoard many physical possessions in their homes. Closets full of clothes, garages full of boxes, houses full of clutter. Too many physical possessions create emotional baggage as they symbolise the inability to let go of things in our past. If you suffer from a full house, try reading the Life-changing magic of Tidying: The Japanese Art by Marie Kondo. She suggests that you put your hand on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn't, thank it for its service and get rid of it.
None of our material possessions are really that important anyway. We do not own anything in the physical world. We entered it with nothing and that is also how we will leave it.
I used to believe the most important thing was to be happy. I wanted to be happy all the time. Not only is this pretty unrealistic, it's also not true.
The most important thing to me now is growth and not a lot of growth comes from being super happy. It comes through having the complete human experience. It involves happiness, but also sadness, anger, frustration, excitement, fear etc.Therefore we're not supposed to cling to pleasurable experiences, nor are we meant to wallow in the sad ones either. Contentment comes from accepting what is and taking the lessons in all our experiences.
This one can manifest differently depending on the situation. There is nothing bad with loving the special people in our lives, it is about knowing when there is an appropriate time to let go. It can be allowing our children to grow up, ending a romantic relationship or even allowing our partners to be themselves and have space, a fading friendship etc.
Craving and attachment can also be connected to food addiction and overeating. Many cultures have a practice of only until 80% full. In Okinawa, Japan this is called Hara Hatchi Bu. I am guilty of not practising this one. If something tastes good, I definitely want to eat more. However the constant need to experience pleasure causes us to be in this state of clinging and non acceptance of what is. We allow ourselves to become attached to an experience, instead of being content from within. Nothing in the external world will ever really satisfy us anyway when true happiness comes from within. Not even ice cream. Even though it tastes really, really good.
The famous phrase from Frozen, has the best mantra for this yama: Let is go.
We must let go of the need to constantly accumulate or possess objects, feelings and people. When we realise that everything we will ever need is inside us already, then we can truly be free.
Good luck with the non-grasping my friends.