Sometimes I get so caught up in thinking about all of the things that I am lacking, that I completely forget to pause and appreciate all that I do have. It’s part of the human condition, I think: we’re trained to want more. More money, more time, more food, more things, more appreciation, more connection — just more.
But where does all that striving for more leave us? In my experience (which maybe you can relate to), it leaves me feeling pretty empty. Like I don’t have enough. Like I am somehow lacking. Yet, when I take a step back from the wanting more mentality, it’s easy to see just how much I am already fortunate enough to have! Quite the paradox…
Considering gently loosening my grip on wanting more.
This week in teacher training we have been studying Aparigraha (the last of the five yamas/guidelines for living, provided by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra). Aside from the basic “non-greed” translation, some of the Aparigraha explanations that stuck out to me included:
- Not grasping or holding onto. The simple act of letting go in each moment.
- Taking only what is necessary. Not desiring more than we need.
- Taking only what we have earned. Not taking advantage of a situation.
- Transcending the desire for external things and finding peace and happiness within.
- Trusting that our needs will get met.
Yet all week I struggled with how to integrate this newfound knowledge into my life. See, I’m human (surprise! ;)) and in my head I’ve got this whole list of things that I want to acquire, goals that I want to achieve, expectations that I have for myself and others, and — to be frank — it’s still not 100% clear to me where exactly the line between greed and fairness should be drawn. It’s a work in progress.
But I did figure one thing out: Gratitude is an antidote to greediness.
On Friday evening, while I was sequestered away for three hours of teacher training class with the wonderful Madeline Lohman, I unexpectedly received a text message (accompanied by the picture above) from an old friend which simply said: “New batch of cinnamon walnut choc chip cookies…” The implication was clear: stop by and pick up a delicious cookie. So on my way home from yoga school, I did just that!
And you know what? That cookie (aka, the 15 minutes I spent catching up with my friends after a long week) was exactly what I needed last night. And, even more interestingly, today, as I paused to reflect on my gratitude for my friend’s sweet gesture, I noticed that while I was focused on feeling gratitude, the goals, expectations, and desires that continually hold residence in my consciousness faded into the insignificant background.
It seems as though when we focus on what we do have, it’s simply easier to let go of the rest of it…