Aparigraha: Yogic term often translated as non-attachment or non-grasping. It is the last of the yamas listed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and one of the most difficult for us humans to practice. Why? We grasp things. A lot of things. We grasp onto our security blankets, our money, our regimented schedules, our possessions, and people. Perhaps, we grasp all of these in an attempt to finally, finally grasp hold of ourselves. Or maybe just the opposite: We grasp others so we don’t have to deal with ourselves. Human nature.
As a student of yoga, I get attached to my favorite yoga mat, my favorite spot in class, and my favorite teachers. But, if I forget my mat at home or someone grabs my spot before I do, I can adjust accordingly. No worries. How about that yoga teacher, though? What if I have to say goodbye to her because she’s taking a sabbatical to spend more time with her lovely family? I’m happy for her, but, ut oh. That’s change, not just adjusting. Change with a capital C.
It’s Change that we don’t like. But underneath the dislike of change, there’s fear. What if we don’t like what comes next? What if it is never as good as it is right now. (Even though just yesterday, we were complaining about how terrible things are right now!) We’re fickle, we’re fearful, we’re–I’ll go ahead and say it–a little f’ed up. Grasping does that.
Susan is the director and an instructor at the yoga school that I attended and received my 200-RYT certification. She’s also my Monday night yoga class teacher. I love the way she teaches and makes me think. She often gives homework for the week. It might be a question to pose to ourselves throughout our day: What could I let go of to make this moment a little less painful, a little more comfortable? Or perhaps, its inviting self inquiry and then really listening: What would happen if I didn’t speak to myself like that? What if I practiced kindness with myself as I do others? Who am I without my story? Or a simple phrase to practice saying without further explanation: You’re welcome! when someone says thank you. I think she’s wonderful, can you tell?
This past Monday night was my last class (for now) with Susan. As usual, her teaching was spot-on. It was exactly what I needed to hear at this “point” in my life.
The theme for the class was direction. At the beginning of class, while we were sitting in sukhasana, settling in and quieting down our workday bodies and minds, sunlight streaming in through the studio windows. Susan’s voice inviting us into this moment: “Ask yourself, ‘Am I utilizing all of the directions on my compass?'”
And throughout the class:
“Am I stuck going in one direction?”
“Sometimes progress isn’t moving forward, sometimes progress is moving sideways, or sometimes progress is even moving backwards.”
At the end of class, we are once again seated quietly, bathed in the candlelights’ glow. The last thing I remember hearing Susan say is, “When your heart and your mind are focused and moving in the same direction, you will be able to accomplish anything.”
That last sentence stayed with me and is still staying with me. When I feel conflicted or need to make a decision regarding my path, I repeat, “When my heart and my mind are focused and moving in the same direction, I will be able to accomplish anything.”
A few days after this class, I read my horoscope: I have the ability and the right to reset my compass and, on this birthday moon, I choose my true north. I face the direction that my heart aims me towards. I no longer discount my truth. I tried it once or twice and it wasn’t so dope. In order to be superfly I need to be unafraid to follow my gut. I follow this internal tracking device no matter the light that I have to see by.–Chani Nicholas (chaninicholas.com) on the Gemini New Moon June 2016
We all have the ability and the right to reset our compass, as many times as needed. Susan reset hers, I’m in the process of resetting mine. And yet, I know someday our paths will cross, and certainly merge, again. Thank you to Susan and all of my teachers on this path.
Susan and I at YTT Graduation October 2015