Aparigraha: The Forgotten Yama


By: Gaia Staff  |  March 20, 2013

Of all the yogic teachings, the most well known to newcomers and experienced yogis alike is asana (the postures) because we all physically practice them in yoga class. Students of yoga philosophy are also familiar with the first two limbs of yoga—the yamas and niyamas—described by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. The yamas are the universal codes of ethical behavior and niyamas are the personal observances—essentially guidance for how enlightened beings can best interact with the world, our friends, our families, and our selves. These ten practices and their translations can become intuitive and awakened within us when we place our attention on them, live them, and practice them.

Of the five yamasahimsa (non-violence), satya (not lying), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (sexual impeccability), and aparigraha (not coveting)—it is often the fifth yama, aparigraha, that seems to get lost in the shuffle. Maybe because it’s last on the list or seems difficult to pronounce (a-par-i-gra-ha), or perhaps it appears the same as asteya, which is more about taking what isn’t ours. In contrast, aparigraha is about greed-based desire that is rooted in jealousy: to inhabit what someone else is, where they are in life, or what they have. Aparigraha is looking at someone else and saying “I want that,” whether or not we have the same ability, experience, physiology, knowledge or desires as that other person. An easy example is when we are admiring/coveting someone else’s asana in yoga class. I recently taught a class where all my students wore blindfolds to awaken their aparigraha!! Pretty trippy.

As we move throughout the day, we often judge the world around us; we compare ourselves to other people, their successes, their ah-ha moments and their celebrations. We ooh and aah over someone else’s bag, shoes, car, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, status, success, money, or happiness. And then we feel less than. There are eight billion people on planet Earth and if we try to compare ourselves to eight billion other people, it’s like comparing bananas to oranges to grapes to cotton balls to geodes to leaves to birds – how can you compare those? You can’t. Just like those you might covet, there may be those who covet you and what you have. The cycle of jealousy is infinite, unless you choose to step into your grace and step beyond it.

When you start to feel that jealousy bubbling up, remind yourself “aparigraha, aparigraha”, then shift to gratitude. Stop for a moment and recognize something you do have that is amazing or something that could use some work. Celebrate the other person and what they have…and when you can merge with their excitement, that’s yoga, that’s union, that’s one-ness.

Practicing aparigraha helps us better discover the brilliance and divinity within our own selves so that we would never look at someone else and do anything other than root for them. Others we might “covet” demonstrate that the world is infinite and that what we can attract for ourselves is boundless. There’s enough room for all of us to play in the ever-expanding sandbox of the universe. No one really gets in our way; in fact, others’ successes can instill confidence within us that we too can succeed. No one is truly competing with us; others’ triumphs can point the way to the magnificence that is available to all of us.

When you rely on your own abundance and creativity, you can bloom and blossom and flourish without comparing yourself to anyone else. Even if you work side-by-side with someone and you both have the same exact title and compensation, what’s to compare? You’re on your path; they’re on theirs.

Practicing aparigraha is more than not coveting others. It’s celebrating what is ours and reminding us to reach for the stars rather than gazing at someone else’s. In that process, there is no coveting; there is no jealousy—only the excitement of the miracles in our life yet to unfold.


 

davidji

The Lead Educator of the Chopra Center for the past 10 years, davidji is an internationally recognized meditation teacher, life guide, author, public speaker, and corporate wellness instructor.A former business executive turned apprentice to Dr. Deepak Chopra, davidji is transforming the way the world sees stress management by debunking misconceptions about meditation and making it a practical tool for people from all walks of life.
davidji’s much-anticipated book, Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peaceand Personal Transformation (Hay House) was released on September 4, 2012. Through his book, davidji addresses his readers’ real-life challenges and offers myriad meditation techniques for all circumstances, taking their lives to the next level.
davidji’s path to teaching is not what most might expect. He was not born a guru or raised as amonk – he arrived at his position through real-world experience. Born in Queens, New York, davidji was attending Syracuse University as a National Merit Scholar majoring in political philosophy when he stumbled into an Eastern Philosophy course and first learned to meditate. Though he experimented with different types of meditation, he never found a steady practice. After college, davidji found himself immersed in the business world, ultimately co-founding a mergers and acquisition advisory firm. Slowly and progressively, his life became a grind and he lost emotional and physical balance leaving him feeling spiritually unfulfilled.Then, in the wake of 9/11, davidji had the first of many aha! moments while walking in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood when a homeless man grabbed his pant-leg asking him, “What’s going to be on your tombstone?” This comment at this exact moment shook him to his core and put him on a path of self-discovery.Within weeks davidji left his job and traveled to Oxford, England, to experience Deepak Chopra at the “Seduction of Spirit” meditation retreat, with the hope that the spiritual advisor would help him reconnect with his guiding source and the inner essence he once knew. Continuing on this new path of enlightenment, davidji traveled to San Diego and offered his business acumen to Drs.Deepak Chopra & David Simon, who invited him to become the COO of The Chopra Center. There he was then given the name davidji – “ji” is a term of reverence in Hindi meaning “beloved.” The lower case “d” stresses humility in that we are all beloved.After eight years of daily teaching, and more than 50,000 personal students, davidji wasappointed the very first Dean of Chopra Center University. He has recorded more than 200-guided meditations, and was the vision and voice behind the Chopra Center’s 21-day meditation challenge,which connected more than 100,000 people in more than 100 countries in 21 consecutive days of online meditation. This earned davidji the nicknames “The Velvet Voice of Stillness” and “Meditation Maestro.” In 2012, he led more than 50,000 people around the world in the Winter Feast for theSoul—40 consecutive days of online meditation.
Today, davidji has developed a solo career teaching workshops, retreats, and corporate wellness programs and continues to serve as Lead Meditation Teacher at “Seduction of Spirit,” the ChopraCenter’s signature meditation retreat. He is certified to teach Meditation, Ayurveda, Emotional Release techniques, and Yoga. He is also a certified Vedic Master, a core member of the Hay House stable of authors and radio personalities, and the host of LIVE from the SweetSpot each Wednesday on Hay House Radio. His first CD of guided meditations “Fill What is Empty; Empty What is Full” has received more than 50,000 downloads on iTunes and Amazon.com
For additional information, contact: Jenna Guarneri at 212-529-1598, Jenna@shpny.com
Website: www.davidji.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/flowoflove
Twitter: @davidji_com


 

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