Let’s face it, we’ve all been there – standing in front of our collection of clothes and muttering to ourselves that we have nothing to wear. This is definitely a first world problem, but a problem none-the-less that we can make a little fun of, right? I mean seriously, it isn’t that we have nothing to wear, it is that we have too much to wear!
Many of us don’t realize that amassing more than we need often leads to feelings of not enough. To put it simply, the more we have (beyond what is necessary for survival), often, the more we crave. Feelings of discontent and lack are not uncommon when trying to find an outfit. If we really think about it, it is a ridiculous state of mind. So what can we do when we are faced with abundance, yet still feel discontent? Patanjali advises in the 8-limb path of yoga to practice the 5 codes of restraints called Yamas.
Aparigraha (Sanskrit: अपरिग्रहा), the fifth restraint, is the concept of non-possessiveness, non-grasping or non-greediness. Aparigraha is the practice of only taking what is truly necessary and no more. Parigrah is Sanskrit for ‘to amass or crave’, the prefix of A translates to ‘non-‘.
We can explore Aparigraha in two ways; through our outer and inner worlds. Outwardly, it encourages a simpler way of life and non-hoarding. If we look through the lens of our inner-world, our minds, it is encouraging non-attachment and non-craving with the goal of creating inner-peace and contentment.
So, how can we practice Aparigraha in our modern lives?
First, recognize and have a sense of humor. I just counted and will admit to amassing at least 20 pairs of yoga pants. Do I still stand in front of my closet and mutter that I don’t have anything to wear – yes! Do I still crave more? Yes. Am I ridiculous? Absolutely. But, I choose to have a sense of humor about my hoarding habits. I can recognize my tendency to justify this collection by listing the numerous classes I teach and times I practice heated yoga per week. But really, I just get sick of my clothes and love having the variety. There was a time when I was practicing the same amount of yoga with only two pairs of pants, that I would diligently wash out each evening in preparation for the next practice. That worked too. I recognize that when I stand in front of my closet bursting at its seams, that much of what hangs there is more than I need and often ignored due to lack of quality, ill-fit or simply being tired of the item.
Second, get rid of everything! Just kidding. Get rid of everything that isn’t necessary, well-fitting or loved. Living your yoga in the modern world doesn’t mean we have to give up having anything extra, frivolous or unneccessary, but it should be something that you love and will use. So yes, you can have a great piece in your wardrobe that you only wear occasionally, simply honor its place in your closet. Living your yoga isn’t about giving up everything you love, however being weighed down by more than you need can create more discontent than we realize.
Recently, I found this great strategy for downsizing your closet, by creating a capsule wardrobe. It is a great way to have a little fun practicing Aparigraha. For myself, it helped me realize how much I already have, lessened my desire for more and created simplicity in my life. I have started to apply the technique to other spaces in my home that weigh me down mentally. . .next stop? The home office. . . ugh!