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By December 3, 2011February 26th, 20152 Comments

A lone leaf cartwheels skyward, riding an updraft over the house, flying like a drunken dove to the edge of the far woods.  What a glorious end, to be borne aloft, the whole Autumn landscape spread out below in riotous gold and orange; nature caught in a flagrant act of transformation.                                                                                                         Danna Faulds

This term in my schooling, I’ve been asked to journal and practice one of the ethical principles, and I chose Aparigraha as my Yama of reflection.   Otherwise translated as non aquisitiveness or greedlessness, Aparigraha has its roots in the notion of “stuff” and not accumulating what is not essential – whether it be things I own or knowledge I gain.

There’s something about this Yama in particular that gets me thinking outside myself and the bigger picture: consumerism and materialism – you know, living a life of grasping and accumulating stuff in habitually exploitive ways.  Yes, the thought that I will be happier when I have this…  But truth tells me I won’t be happier; it will all just manifest as something new to grasp onto.  Like the beauty of autumn, the leaves will fall.  And to what end, the cost of my actions?  Environmentally and ethically speaking; it is simply unskillful to turn my cheek to the impact of my delusional worldly desires.

What stands out for me is the realization that this Yama, like all the other ethical principles studied in yoga are bigger than me.  All my actions and thoughts carry karma, and karma comes down to intention.   Surely my intention is not to harm others and the balance of nature by careless desire.  My yoga practice is not just about physical flexibility and strength.  It’s about cultivating awareness internally so that I can wake up to who I am and my place in the world.  That is why we start with the Yamas.  Without the balanced practice of all eight limbs in yoga, practice can easily become another form of materialism.  Yoga is not about passivity; it’s about being in the world and about wise action.  Reflecting on Aparigraha kicks this into gear for me – we are all interconnected and, ultimately, engagement in the world and formal practice on the mat are one the same.

*Check out more of autumn’s beauty at my husband’s Vermont gallery and blog, photography done by In View Images.