Contentent Through The Practice Of Yoga (part 1)

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The current financial climate in the country has required many people to conserve more, me included. As a long time yoga practitioner, I have been applying the practice of Aparigraha (non-greed). This is one of the Yamas or personal practices recommended in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, a foundational text of Yoga. The Five Yamas are considered external disciplines as they relate to how we 'yoke' to the world. Aparigraha can also be translated as "not taking more than you need". It is it a excellent practice and well worth modeling. I'd like to say that I had a profound spiritual compulsion to start practicing Aparigraha in order to become a better teacher, yogi and world citizen; but that would violate 'Satya' - another Yama that translates as truthfulness. It was my profound inability to practice Aparigraha in the first place that most certainly got me into my current financial crisis. The yoga tradition has a magical way of giving the practitioner exactly what she needs.

Faced with financial hardship, it is easy to become afraid and start contracting. When we are afraid, nagging thoughts of "there is not enough" seep into our consciousness, then into our actions. We start protecting what we have and look for ways to get more. We may envy other people's abundance and secretly wish it was ours. Fear brings contraction and contraction instantly stagnates flow.

Non-Greed and Contentment: A better approach is to practice Aparigraha (non greed) in combination with another of Pantajali's recommended practices called Santosa. Santosa belongs to the group of 5 Niyamas or internal practices and can be translated as contentment. The Niyamas are said to guide our actions so they benefit all of life. This is an expansive practice and helps make us feel full. It is a good for balancing Aparigraha (non-greed).Now, the usual practices of gratitude and giving thanks for what you do have are fine examples of the practice of Santosa. However, I have to tell you, this can be a stretch when you have lost everything, including your home, all its contents, a husband, a job, most of your community, your credit and pretty much everything else. This has colored much of my experience this year. You get tired of telling the kids we have no money for shoes or Christmas presents and they can't play soccer or have a birthday party. You grow weary of standing on welfare and food stamp lines and visiting the labor department and divorce courts. Oh sure, you become grateful have food to eat and for the churches who run "Adopt-a-Family" at Christmas. You feel blessed to have nurses who secretly slip food baskets through the back door of the school, so as not to embarrass you and for kind neighbors who buy your kids shoes. And you're eternally grateful that you live in a country that provides Health Care, job programs and basic civil rights unknown to so many world citizens. Yet, fear kept clouding my perception and I didn't exactly feel full or expansive. I've been on those welfare lines recently and have looked deeply into the eyes of the others standing there with me. Many seemed depleted and empty and definitely not content. I think they many of them are afraid too.

Four Aims of Life: In Hinduism, the Purusarthas are the four main aims of life for a householder. They include mundane and spiritual aspects and represent a comprehensive approach to the satisfaction of a man's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. From lowest to highest they are listed as 1. Dharma-righteousness or duty; 2. Artha-wealth; 3. Kama-extracting pleasure in your life, and 4. Moksha - liberation. I have been working really hard on refining my understanding Artha, the wealth aspect.

Copyright (c) 2010 Suzanne Wells
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