Aparigraha and Cultivating Balance

by | Oct 19, 2021 | Ayurvedic Nutrition, Nurturing Your Practice

background image of white transition mimicking clouds or smoke

As the cooler weather settles in, for most, so does the slower season. The sun begins to set much earlier, and the days feel shorter. When before you may have woken up with the sun, it is likely that you are now having your first sip of coffee while it’s still dark out. The change of seasons and the quickly approaching holidays can be both exciting and daunting. If you find that during this season you are spending more time at home, there are a few practices you can incorporate to transition smoother as you adapt to new routines. A good deal of people may find their homes have become full of office supplies and/or school supplies, as some still work from home and seek new methods of decluttering for seasonal cleaning. Others may need a change to help adapt to the seasons changing and the end of summer bringing about emotions and feelings of the winter looking to try meditation, learn about Ayurvedic Nutrion and the three dosha. Along with many whom wish to find a new balance in their life throughout all the transitions which have taken place in their world. 

Practice Of Aparigraha

It is well understood that the atmosphere we spend the most time in plays a big part in our general well-being, and our homes are no exception. It is no wonder walking into a messy room can cause stress. When we spend time looking for an item, it can lead to frustration, make us late to wherever we are headed, creating a ripple effect of inducing more stress. As someone who is regularly looking for my keys, I share this from experience. If you share your home with several other people, it can be difficult to maintain organization. If this is the case for you, know you are not alone and no one is handing out grades for whether you have several loads of laundry to fold or your house is spotless. However, even if you are coexisting with multiple people under the same roof, there are practical ways to cultivate a sense of structure.

Aparigraha and Methods of Decluttering

For many years, the only time I would declutter was when I was preparing for a move, or arriving at a new apartment and unpacking. Now I share an apartment with my partner and our two dogs, and we declutter at the beginning of each season. I refer to the KonMari method for this. Some may know Marie Kondo from her Netflix Show, Tidying Up, but you can also choose to read about this method in her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. We can sum the process up in a few steps:

  • Commit yourself to tidying up.
  • Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  • Finish discarding first.
  • Before getting rid of items, sincerely thank each item for serving its purpose.
  • Tidy by category, not location.
  • Follow the right order.
  • Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

declutterFor many, these steps of letting go can be unnerving. This can be especially true if you have a large home with years of collected items. But completing this process from start to finish can truly be life changing, and any effort to declutter thereafter will likely seem more obtainable. Whether it is just you, or a household of many, the practice of decluttering your space can offer a sense of lightness and ease. According to the method mentioned above, decluttering is not about parting with items that bring you joy, but deciphering between the items that bring you joy and the items that you are holding onto for some other miscellaneous reason. In my experience, I have found that I hold on to items for several reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • someone special gave it to me and it feels that I am somehow dishonoring them by getting rid of it
  • I once invested a bit of money into the item and I don’t want it to go to waste
  • I have had the item for an extended period of time
  • I have assigned a certain sentimental value to it

However, in each of these instances, my attachment to the item has less to do with practicality and genuine joy, and more to do with attachment, obligation and a false sense of loss. Here is where the practice of yoga comes in.

Defining Aparigraha

Aparigraha is the last Yama, under the first limb of Patanjali’s “8 limbs of yoga.” Defining Aparigraha, it has been translated as non-attachment, generosity, and simplicity. When we apply this to our work through the process of decluttering, we might conclude the items given to us by a loved one do not affect our connection to them, giving away our expensive items to someone who may use them is more valuable of a cause than holding on to it, and how we actually need less than we might think. We can even use these opportunities to teach our children this practice by example and careful explanation. Once we have decluttered our space, we may find there is room we didn’t have before.

Cultivating A Routine

Whether we abide by it, we are creatures of habit. According to Ayurveda, there are hours of the day that are best for sleeping, for digesting, for working, and for creative and spiritual endeavors. Kapha, Pitta, and Vata dosha alternate every four hours in that order, beginning at 6 AM. To understand the benefits of complying with these hours, it is important to understand the elements and effects each has on the body. Vata dosha is the most sensitive of the three because it is governed by the elements ether and air.

Vata dosha owns the hours of 2:00 – 6:00 AM & PM. As early as it sounds, waking up in the morning sometime between these hours is preferable. This time of day is best for mediation and other spiritual practices, as engaging in these grounding practices will promote internal balance. From 2:00 – 6:00 PM is another good time to ground for this dosha. You may practice restorative yoga, journal, sip tea, or spend time doing activities such as folding laundry, or preparing for dinner.

Kapha dosha is governed by the elements of water and earth. During these hours, we are more prone to feeling tired and sluggish. For this reason, it is best to wake during Vata hours, before 6 AM, otherwise, we may have difficulty getting out of bed and starting our day. From 6:00 – 10:00 AM is a good time to exercise for this dosha. You can practice yoga, or tai chi, walking or swimming during Kapha hours as a way to work through the heaviness associated with this time of day. It is best to keep breakfast light and early, should you be a breakfast person.

Pitta dosha is ruled by the elements of fire and water. For this reason, having a big meal within these hours is best, as your digestion is at its peak. This is also a good time to be productive and get work done. For instance, if you are working on a big project, you may wake up early, meditate, exercise, eat, and get to work. When Pitta time returns in the evening, it is still an important time for accomplishing work, and again, your digestive fire is stronger than other times of day, but it is recommended we are asleep by the time Pitta rolls back around for this dosha. This would mean we are asleep before 10:00 PM! By getting to sleep early, we allow our body to apply all of its energy towards digesting the day and recovering. If we are still awake during these hours, we may find that we are hungry, and that it is difficult to fall asleep.

The goal of following the Ayurvedic schedule is to cultivate internal balance, which may then expand into your daily life. It can be challenging to apply these changes at once, and it is likely that this method will not result in sustainable results. But by making small changes here and there, it is possible to adapt your schedule to reap the benefits of following the natural patterns of the body. Remember, the goal is not to take on this practice as a burden or a chore, but rather to create consistency, even if the changes seem minute. To learn more about Ayurveda, you can check out our Ayurvedic Nutrition program.

grounding, mediationGrounding Meditation

As mentioned earlier, a great suggestion is to begin your day with meditation. There are mediations you can find on our YouTube Channel, but also several meditations you can do on your own as a way to ground and prepare for your day. One meditation to try is a chakra visualization meditation. Here is a short meditation that can be used for grounding at home:

Find a comfortable seat on the ground or on a meditation cushion. Soften your eyes closed and begin to find your breath. Start with the root chakra. Draw your attention to the part of your body connected to the earth. Imagine here that there is a red orb hovering around this chakra. Focusing on this, you may curate a mantra that supports this chakra. An example would be: I have everything I need, or I am safe. Next, you can begin to visualize what your life looks like when your mantra is manifesting. As you are finished, you can slowly reverse the process by bringing your attention back to the surface you are sitting on, then back to your breath, and finally, you can blink the eyes open. You may choose to finish your time with a practice of pranayama. Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a good breathing technique for grounding.

The most important part of meditation is to to acknowledge any thoughts that come to your mind as they come and then let them go. This is a practice which can not be learned in a single day, have self-compassion and make your practice unique for you!

Feeling Supported

Remember, engaging in these practices and meditations are meant to make you feel better and supported, not to agitate or provoke more stress. It is best to approach these practices with self-compassion and patience. Know there is no need to accomplish any certain number of practices within any specific amount of time. Some recommendations made here may not work for everyone. However, as with everything, you can take the parts that serve you, and you can leave the rest. Maintaining space in your home where you feel supported and at ease is especially important when you find you are spending most your time at home, but how/what this looks like is different for each person.

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