I’m going to jump ahead to the last of the yamas, which is one of my favorites, and one of the most difficult to practice, aparigraha, non-grasping. Again the yamas put it in the negative form, so if we look at it from the positive wording it would be more like, loosen your grip. Even by saying those words, I can feel my body start to soften and my breath deepen. It has an instant physical impact and I realize just how tightly I am holding on at every moment of the day.
This was neatly demonstrated to me during my last week of maternity leave. My maternity leave was blissful beyond what I could have imagined, but even from the moment it began I felt a dread creeping in that it would all be coming to an end far to quickly. And going further back, during my pregnancy I started to contemplate the idea that being a stay at home mom would be a better option, completely ignoring the fact that it was nearly financially impossible for that to be a reality. My desire to be with my baby was deep and pervasive.
So, during my last week of maternity leave I held on tight. So tight that there were many times that I would think it was only 10am and I would look at the clock and it would be 11:30am already, as if the last hour and a half had been only 10 minutes long. The time was rapidly escaping me as I counted down the minutes and seconds that were left to spend exclusive with my little one. I was desperately sad. All I wanted to do was put my life on pause. The more I struggled against it, the more elusive time with my baby became.
Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. -Pema Chodron
My first day back to work came, whether I was ready for it or not, and it was tearful. But instead of holding on to the mourning I was feeling, softened into it. After I said my good-byes and smothered my baby is kisses, I bravely applied mascara and headed to the office. And guess what? I was fine. And so was my baby. It was all ok. The reality of it was not nearly as terrifying as my grasping to the fear of having to return to work. And the moment that I worked with the reality, not my emotions, there was an openness that began to appear. An expansiveness that felt peaceful, not necessarily easier, but more gentle and tender then before. This is the idea of aparigraha. When we open ourselves up and loosen our grip on expectations there is a cosmic sigh that occurs and we can find ourselves cradled in the pliability of the present moment.