I was up from 1-3am last night worrying about possible judgment from people in my community who I deeply admire. I tossed and turned with the intent to fall back to sleep for nearly an hour before giving up and giving in to pour my heart out to them.
Since I began writing in July 2010, I have grown accustomed to revealing the quandaries and wanderings of my heart on the written page. It is almost as if I am offering my confession to the virtual world. I do not write to be absolved but rather to communicate and demonstrate that I am vulnerable and imperfect. Should my writing speak to another person out there in the virtual cosmos, this becomes an unexpected gift in return for my confession.
The assignment to study Aparigraha during my 200hr training this past summer was an unexpected gift from my yoga teacher. I am still awed by her insight into choosing the exact yama and niyama for each student to deconstruct.
At its essence, Aparigraha is the yogic yama for non-attachment. I have been in the practice of Aparigraha for years, and so it a propos that I should begin to study it through the yogic lens.
What I began to discover was the Aparigraha could be found in every element of my spiritual existence. I first defined Aparigraha as the practice of letting go of material possessions and then noticed that there was room to let go of unhealthy and thus burdensome relationships, career paths, physical practices, and beyond.
Aparigraha was everywhere, and it was my journey to meet it head on in my own life.
I have gifted and sold hundreds of belongings. I have shifted from the accelerated entrepreneur to a less constricted unveiling of my path as a songwriter and yogi.
Where I continue to struggle with Aparigraha is in letting go of judgment from within and without. I just cannot seem to detach myself from the worry and concern I experience that someone I care about might question my actions and authenticity.
I have learned from many spiritual teachers of the reality that in the end, we all must leave everything behind, so why do I insist on holding on so tightly to something so transient? Not only is this fear fleeting but it is beyond my control, save from learning to be gentle in the self-judgment that comes from within.
I also have learned from personal experience that not everyone can truly see me, including myself. What I mean by this is that it is easy to judge my actions from a place of fear or envy or any of a spectrum of emotions. Take your pick. I know that I am my own worst critic and punish and question myself far more than any other person ever possibly could.
I know, too, that I approach the world from the bias of a lifetime of interactions with people and place. It can be difficult to see beyond my bias to look within another person’s spirit to see their intention and where they may be struggling to stay grounded.
The judgment that has been directed at me over the years from different people whose paths I have crossed was likely less about me than it was a projection of their own life challenges and sadness. Even after years of reflection and coming to some understanding of the pain that must lie behind these actions, the negative treatment I have experienced has tended to wrap itself around me more strongly than the positive.
I have been called some awful and also hilarious names.
A roommate in France called me an eco-warrior because I insisted on recycling.
A former supervisor told me, You have lost you way and we need to put you back in line when I demonstrated independent action and thought.
A former friend in Alaska told me that I was like a dog with a bent tail. No matter how many times you try to straighten it, he told me, it will always bend back. This came from a person with such self-doubt and self-judgment that he lived like a hermit in a community of 300 at the edge of the earth. It seemed easier to protect himself by finding fault with all the people in his life, including himself, than to be vulnerable and open to imperfection. I learned from this person and several others that I will never succeed in trying to be something I am not for another person. I also learned that it takes a lot of wasted energy to hide my true self and that I wish to surround myself with people who insist that I be as I am in their presence rather than something else.
I no longer judge these individuals because I know there is no point. Judging them perpetuates negative energy that I wish to expel from my system. Trying to empathize, forgive, and move on feels far healthier. I know I can never truly understand what causes people to behave as they do; however, I can come to understand and determine my own actions and learn from my past.
And so, in this recent bout of fear of judgment, I take a close look at how it manifests within and where it may derive. I question whether I have acted honestly and from my heart. Knowing that I strive to be as ethically and authentically me, I recognize that I am doing the best I can. Should judgment come, I will have to sit with it and find a way to let it go once more.
In this life, there seem to be endless opportunities to practice Aparigraha, and I suppose I should be thankful.
After all, this is a beautiful life, and today is a new day.
Namaste, dear friends.