In my younger years this concept would have been blasphemy. Christmas gifts were my birth right! I had lists on lists on lists and usually got everything I wanted. As a kid, my mom would tell me that I was very "acquisitive" which is of course just a euphemism for greedy. I loved getting stuff. Gimme more stuff! New outfits for every day at school. A fifth tube of expensive mascara or perfume that I'd get sick of after a month. Yet another pair of shoes or an unnecessary electronic device or a pair of earrings to add to the collection. This isn't criminal of course - it's the American way. But it sure ain't the yogi way.
This year I definitely don't need anything. I'm starting a business (www.thesocialsutras.com - more on that later!) and moving (much more on that later) so I REALLY do not need anything. I've been weeding out, discarding, and consignment store selling stuff for the past two months. Bringing new things into my life would be a hindrance rather than a benefit and yet I still had hesitation when it came time to agree to the no-gifts-Christmas. I polled my relatives. I suggested a "secret Santa" exchange where we'd each buy just one gift. I thought about it long and hard...then finally agreed. I can go without gifts right?
If I think about it logically, this wavering makes absolutely no sense. I need nothing and what I do need I have money to buy for myself. I'm moving, and discarding items by the bag full everyday. Why is it so hard to just say no to gifts that I don't need, don't have space for, and most likely will not even like?
This acquisitiveness, I realize is just another obstacle to overcome through the yoga practice. Not like, by doing sun salutations and handstands (though that doesn't hurt) but by working towards being an actual, no bull-shit, non-hypocrite yogi as described in the Yoga Sutras. By trying to edit my habits, thoughts, and conditioned patterns as much as I possibly can to become more yogic. And why might you ask? Because I believe it's the only way to find peace of mind. I've accumulated a decent amount of things and wealth in my 29.99 years on this planet and been around people with wealth and things some of us could never dream of possessing. Though at times I still slip into the gimme-gimme-gimmes, I can say with certainty that things do NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY. Designer clothes, the latest gadgets, Benz's, bling bling, partying with Beyonce (well...maybe partying with Beyonce)...none of it. I know it's true. And yet it's so hard to not crave more things things things!
|Seagulls = not yogis!|
Aparigraha or to "not grasp at things" is one of the ethical rules laid out in the Yoga Sutras. I always think of those seagulls in Finding Nemo when I contemplate Aparigraha...you know, the ones that go "Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine." You know those birds right? So greedy! Sometimes I feel like one of them! And it doesn't just have to be physical "things" like wrapped gifts or stockings full of kitschy novelty items. Even my definition of Christmas as a time for loading up a suitcase with gifts to lug back to NYC is something I've "grasped at" and held onto. Not no more. This year it's time to let that go as well. What is Christmas without presents but an amazing time of year when my entire family will be together eating at the same table with a few days blocked of with nothing to do but spend quality time together? Hmm, doesn't sound too bad, does it?
As I prepare for the big move this grasping/attachment is going to come up again and again. What are the bare necessities I can take with me to live simply but comfortably? What can I donate, discard, and let go of? Do these things really matter or have anything do to with me? What do I really need in life other than my family and of course my Lala?
So that's right. I'm getting nothing for Christmas this year but not because I've been a bad girl. On the contrary, it's because trying to be a very, very GOOD girl. Sorry Santa- I've traded you in for Patanjali.