Happy autumn everyone! Although here in Tennessee the days have still been reaching the 80s and 90s, Nature's fall shift is still apparent through dry and breezy days followed by cool and long nights. And while this year's autumn foliage may be nothing more than leaves drying up to a sunken shade of brownish-green and descending into a crunchy scatter on the street sides, there remains a quiet, sublime message about what it means to let go.
In the 8-Limb path of Raja Yoga, Aparigraha is one of the Yamas and means non-hoarding, non-possessiveness non-grasping or non-attachment; in other words, letting go. Just like trees freely let go of their leave to prepare for winter hibernation, we, too, must practice "letting go." Understanding the virtuous "why" behind letting go can empower us to act intelligently & compassionately when making difficult decisions or healing from traumatic experiences.
But, lets be honest: letting go can be absolutely terrifying. The little voice in our heads can cloud our perception with fear, doubt, anxiety, jealousy, anger, resentment, complacency and other stories when faced with the practice of letting go of what's really not serving our best interests anymore. Furthermore, we can get full of nostalgia and externalize our emotions and experiences into an [insert your noun here].
Holding on isn't always in our best interest. Approaching a situation, person or object with an attitude of scarcity or fear can keep us stuck in a self-sabotaging cycle from which may already know we need to seek liberation. We can feel this play out in our bodies when we clench down muscles and hold onto tightness; if we can find release from clenching tight muscles, we just might discover that through letting go we are actually making space for abundance, not falling into scarcity or harm.
Nature and the universal Divine is full, whole, complete and abundant--we are inherently apart of the fullness in all that is. Even when we are seemingly taking away from our perception of "fullness" though giving away the extraneous, we can start to pierce the veil of illusion by observing the deep down "why" of our thoughts and actions.
By practicing non-attachment we are truly still full, and continually make more space for the natural flow of abundance to move through our entire being. The Poornamadah Shanti Mantra sheds light on the inherent wholeness of Nature & the Universe:
ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते | पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ||
Om Poornam Adah, Poornam Idam, Poornaat, Poornam Udachyate
Poornaysa Poornam Adaya, Poornam Eva Vashishyate
Poornam means whole, complete or full. This mantra translates to:
All This is full, All That is full, From fullness, Fullness comes
When fullness is taken from fullness, Fullness still remains
Breath awareness meditation is a simple and wonderful tool to experience our inherent nature of fullness. Find an easy seated posture on the floor or in a chair, or even lie down with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. From there, just start to observe the natural rhythm of your breath; no need to change it in any way--just notice.
As you observe your natural breath, start to notice how the space in front of you turns into your inhale and how your exhale turns into the space in front of you. Observe how Nature freely give away a part of its essence to become your breath, and how you freely give away your breath back to Nature. Observe your exhalation's journey into emptiness, and notice the space at the very bottom of the exhale, just before it turns into the inhale. Notice that even though you have completely let go of your exhalation into emptiness, that empty space is, in fact, completely full of potential, possibility and abundance for Nature to give you the essence of your inhale.
In ayurveda, the exhalation is connected to a specific type of pranic energy called apana vayu. Existing primarily in the hips space, apana vayu is linked to our physiological actions of release--you guessed it; farting, pooping & peeing (also menstruation, child birth & ejaculation). Even just consider what happens when you need to use the toilet--nobody takes a big inhale as they're about to go potty! All giggles aside, getting comfortable with the biology of "letting go" can help us get comfortable with the higher and more subtle expressions of release through practicing Aparigraha.
You can experience some of the quality of apana vayu by observing the physical sensations of your exhale; start to notice how your body feels as your let go of your breath. Notice the subtle grounding sensation in the hips as you breath out. Feel the gentle downward and outward energetic quality as your exhale. Observe the relaxation of the pelvic floor. From this physical awareness of apana vayu, start to turn your attention to a mental awareness, and notice what happens to thoughts and emotions as you exhale.
Just like Nature, our minds and bodies shift and change just like the seasons. But, just like Nature, we are also inherently linked to a changeless abundant flow of Divine consciousness. Keep observing the physical and energetic expressions of apana vayu in your entire being and in Nature this autumn season. Let the natural flow of apana vayu guide you in learning to practice Aparigraha. Through letting go, there's less stuff holding you back from recognizing your flow of Divine consciousness--that which is full, whole, complete and abundant!
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
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