A few months ago I stood, in the check-in line with luggage in hand, ready to fly off for a big adventure – an advanced yoga teacher training in India. Little did I know that when I walked up to the ticket counter, my trip was not to be.. I didn’t know that I needed a visa to go to India.

 Oh man, really?

One could argue that there were a lot of qualities I needed at that moment – wit, problem solving, patience – but the thing I really needed, luckily, I had been practicing for many years.

What is it? In yoga it’s called Aparigraha, “non-grasping.” This Sanskrit word can also be translated as non-attachment, non-greed, and non-coveting.

In Buddhism, it is the third Noble Truth – that suffering is relieved by letting go of craving. The ancient yogic sages and the Buddha both saw clearly that grasping and desire bring suffering in a world that is constantly changing.

Think about it- holding on to the way you think things should be creates expectation. When your expectations aren’t met (which happens all the time), you experience suffering.

When we are able to let go of expectation, or holding on to how we think things should be, when circumstances change we are free to embrace what is, rather than lament what might have been.

 Can we be at peace with what we have right now, rather than yearning for something that isn’t?

We hold on, and have expectations for so many things in life – from our stuff, to our daily routine, to our families.. our grasping even extends to our own sense of self.

We cling to, especially in our consumer culture, material goods, not realizing the freedom that letting go of all the excess stuff brings. As a painter, on one hand I value each painting as a unique, non-reproducible object in a reproducible world. But on the other hand, our objects tie us down with their care and maintenance.

With my paintings, I have studio upkeep and storage to worry about. But I can also see, as we have simplified our stuff and our kid’s stuff in our home, how less stuff brings more freedom.

We also hold on to our busy-ness so that we feel a sense of worthiness. I know that for me, it can be hard to slow down and let go.. to not fill my day with to-dos.

We cling to conceptions of how other people “should” behave. From our partner, to our children, to our friends – when they don’t conform to expectations in our minds, we suffer disappointment, frustration, and anger. These expectations also lead to harsh judgments on others and on ourselves.

There are a myriad of ways that our grasping makes us suffer.

So how do we practice Aparigraha, non-grasping?

The key, as with everything, starts with a mindfulness practice to create awareness of how our grasping makes us suffer. We have to notice and see how our attachments and expectations bring unhappiness before we ever have a chance of responding differently.


That is why I write this blog, coach, and create programs – so that I can help smart, passionate mamas like you build this mindfulness in your daily life. It is the key that unlocks so many of our doors.

Once we have some awareness around this issue, we can then practice letting go. A great place to start is with simplifying our possessions, because it is such a concrete, visible way to practice non-attachment. Try getting rid of 5 items in your house today, and see how it feels.

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When I was at the airline counter, getting the news that I would not be getting on that flight, I was initially pretty shocked. There were definitely tears! But I didn’t rail at the universe. Once I realized that I either had the choice of either going to the consulate and arriving late to my training program, or letting go of that to see what options were available to me right now, I was able to focus on now.

I took refuge in the home of a nearby good friend, and, trusting the universe, I was able to transition into taking my own yoga retreat at their home upstate. And it was just what I needed. I ended up feeling grateful that things worked out the way they did. Later, I was able to use my airline credit to take a quick trip to London, and the yoga program refunded my money!

What are you holding onto that is making you suffer? How can you start to let it go? The discussion can start in the comments below.

Be well,



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