Game-changing GenerosityNovember 17, 2018
At the heart of Classical Yoga is Patanjali’s ethical guidelines, the yamas and niyamas. These virtues include “aparigraha” (non-greed) and “asteya” (non-stealing). However I don’t think the sage Patanjali was just advising against petty crime.
To practice limiting our desires for possessions and not stealing is to cultivate our generosity. It is to shift our focus from any insecurities and feelings of incompleteness to acknowledging above all else our inherent abundance, shri. When your mind rests in the space of abundance- that your spirit is always present and it is whole, it redirects your ego from wanting more or taking from others or even yourself.
Starting on the surface is useful if you haven’t developed a steady spiritual lense yet. A step in this direction is to look at what in life is actually working when you feel something is missing.
Aparigraha and asteya are inspired by a sense that something is already present that you need to acknowledge in order to redirect feelings of scarcity or insecurity. Looking for abundance, shri, above all fills us with the grace of spirit.
Here’s a practice you can do right now. Look out the window. What is right there? Are you expecting something else? Is there something out your window that upon deeper investigation surprises you was there all along? What of nature is present? Is the sun our, behind clouds or shining on the other side of the planet? Confirm it still exists.
Nature always teaches us more about yoga and our interconnectedness. Late autumn and winter at first and second glance is barren and bleak. But with closer inspection it is full of buried seeds and nuts resting until the world turns in tilt towards our nearest star again. There are flocks of birds that never seem to fly south, all the tree leaves that once created a canopy of shade are now a carpet for the forest floor. It’s not easy to see what is right in front of you especially if it doesn’t immediately seem to be in your favor. Nature is always there, just look up. That big, open, vast sky is hovering above consistently sharing with you it’s power.
Shri-vision is a practice that flips feelings of greed and desire. From an abundant lense we crack ourselves open a bit to share and act generously. I practice when I look out my window in late November to see what is there I may have overlooked. What potential is being nurtured rather than skies empty of blue and blossom? The practice is to be filled with a sense of wonder of what lies beneath instead of robbing (steya) myself from the experience of being bathed in the filtered light and quietude of sleeping trees. When I look for an abundance in front of me or within I can share from a place that’s full rather than pulling from others to fill in any gaps or desires.
Sometimes this happens in the studio. An opportunity to poke around for abundance presents itself as you watch others practice and feel defeated, incompetent and desire to have another’s body. But isn’t it true there are at least 25 other yoga poses you can do? Turns out you aren’t inept and have a good working knowledge of beneficial yoga poses after all. In that moment you can be generous with your time, energy and love and redirect it towards something worthwhile rather than blowing it sulking for 5 of your 60 minutes in class.
A yogi shares freely. A yogi is generous because they have nothing to loose. The yogi ultimately has nothing to lose because they know underneath it all there’s a universal energy keeping the fabric of life intact. If you aren’t obsessing on a lack of something then a surplus arises. If you aren’t robbing others or yourself from precious time and space, you have a greater capacity to give.
To help out in this process ask yourself, “How can I be more generous with my time? My energy? My love? My resources?”.
The game is to keep turning your insecurities and sense of lacking around and ask questions that redirect you to your own innate surplus. Maybe a lot is working in our lives after all, we’ve just been blinded by the glamour of a world that sells us the notion we need more. Isn’t it true that greed and stealing leave a person empty and unfulfilled? There will always be more to want, to judge, to be dazzled by and to be sold. No amount of things will ever make you whole, you’ll just find more to want. No amount of another person’s experience will ever magically take away your own suffering.
Greed (parigraha) and stealing (steya) are motivated by insecurities and a real sense of scarcity. So once you self check, take a breath and let aparigraha and asteya show you the path to giving. Be generous with your time because you’d be robbing yourself and others from real human connection not to. Be generous by sharing your energy with others, they may need it more than you can ever know. Be generous with your love, it’s free to give and fills the heart of another rather than robbing them of what we all deserve.
When we are generous we are living in alignment with yoga, our true nature. Do this by taking the moment to see your whole self that is separate from the material world. It’s vast, abundant, and already complete. Look up, the big sky is sharing freely and so can you.