My copy of Rolf Gates’ book, Meditations from the Mat, fell open to this page today, reflections on the concept of aparigraha, Sanskrit for “non-hoarding” or “non-possessiveness”, and one of the seven yamas or personal observances of the yogic path. Rolf interpreted it in a way I had never heard before, which was about letting go. I had always thought of aparigraha as non-greediness, not taking more than you need, not overeating or overindulging. However, Rolf’s discussion of the concept as letting go spoke to me directly today.

Aparigraha advises us to travel light while on the spiritual path. We must let go of the old to make room for the new; we must grieve our dead and then let go in order to love the living….More difficult is the aspect of aparigraha that concerns worn-out beliefs. Many of the basic assumptions that guide our daily choices are unconscious, unseen….Collectively, these old thoughts and ideas are an energy in our lives that rob us of the moment….Just as we take boxes of our old clothing to the Salvation Army, we can begin shedding our old ideas.”

“You’re not a hoarder, you’re a nonrelinquisher.”

These words, spoken to Rolf by his own yoga teacher, held a mirror up for him, allowing him to see a deep-seated belief that “once I have something, I had better hold on to it, whatever it is. This is not about coveting or hoarding or greed. It is just fear in another color – the fear that comes from want. It is the fear of those who have done without.”

“I am not a hoarder, I am a nonrelinquisher. I don’t want to grieve the loss of anything. Aparigraha is an opportunity to learn how to say good-bye.”

Suddenly I realized that my unwillingness to face the reality of closing my school – which first occurred to me over ten months ago – is based on an unwillingness to face the loss of something I had built with my own spirit. Even though I know at this moment that my soul has already moved on to create something new, and is begging me to make room for this work to take place, I face resistance in truly listening to my soul’s not-so-subtle yearnings. I even find myself, in conversation with strangers, saying out loud – with my normal speaking voice – that I will no longer be a violin teacher in 2010. I keep giving myself little “outs”, like pushing out the deadline to the end of 2010. But as I sit here and try to push the button on sending out invoices, asking my old clients for new money to fuel an old dream, I cannot find the energy to do it. I do find the energy to map out a brand new website, or generate ten different alternatives to the old dream, including how to wind down the school within the next week, or maybe month, or maybe three months. I am witnessing the interaction between my rational mind, my old instinctual survival fears, and my expansive vision which has already moved beyond vision and is ready for action.

It’s not just letting go of the business. It’s letting go of the idea that people need to understand me in order to support me. It’s realizing that living in a state of want – of desire for other people to understand me all the time – is an act of self-induced suffering. It’s also realizing that seeking to understand myself and offering that understanding to others – even as it evolves – is a gift.

I sat with one of my CIIS sound healing classmates last night and talked for two hours. It was fascinating to hear her say in the beginning of our conversation, “I’m not interested in being a healer. I don’t want to work with sick people or people with problems.” Yet she was such a loving, vibrant participant in our sound healing program! Later – much later – in the evening she described how her current job wasn’t satisfying to her – she works for a contract research organization doing clinical trial management for medical device companies. She said she wishes she could touch people, and really help make a positive difference in people’s lives. Wasn’t it interesting, I observed, that she had said earlier that she “didn’t want to be a healer”? In fact, part of her does want to work with and help people – just not the life-sucking squids she typically associates with those seeking “healing”.

I had moved through this same fear during the past year. I remember hearing for the first time in my life permission to set boundaries with patients/clients, and actually permission to let clients go! I was shocked that people working professionally and successfully with people – as psychologists, life coaches, or teachers – were telling me not only that it was OK, but that it is necessary, to let some clients go. That you can’t help everyone. That people will only change when they’re ready to change. And it has nothing to do with you, and YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP TRYING. This last part was the big “aha!” moment for me. You mean, I’m allowed to say, “Enough is enough”?

This is after five years of establishing the inadvertent brand of being able to work with absolutely any level of resistance in a child, being willing to wait a whole year for the child to participate in a lesson, or two to three years for the child to play one song all the way through. Secretly I was drained by this work. It took such concentration and willingness that I had nothing left for myself afterwards. I didn’t feel it until years of this kind of work, week after week, had accumulated in my system.

And now, enough is enough!

It feels wasteful to go through all the old stories again and again. So I’ll stop. I’ll do the work that the energy of my soul is asking me to do. I’ll tie off the loose ends, clear the space for something new, and just allow. Relinquish. And replenish.

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