If you have a candle, the light won’t glow any dimmer if I light yours off of mine. ~ Steven Tyler
Yoga has changed my view of generosity. I have learned to give without expectation and to always remain mindful of the quality of my generosity. After all, generosity in yoga is based partly on two of the five Yamas:
- Generosity is the opposite of taking (Asteya) whereby we share freely with a focused, quality effort.
- A generous person sees life through a prism of abundance instead of scarcity. In yoga this is known as Aparigraha: there is enough for everyone.
One of my favorite stories about the value of generosity is called Stone Soup.
There are many variations on the story of stone soup, but they all involve a traveler coming into a town beset by famine. The inhabitants try to discourage the traveler from staying, fearing he wants them to give him food. They tell him in no uncertain terms that there’s no food anywhere to be found. The traveler explains that he doesn’t need any food and that, in fact, he was planning to make a soup to share with all of them. The villagers watch suspiciously as he builds a fire and fills an enormous pot with water. With great ceremony, he pulls a stone from a bag, dropping the stone into the pot of water. He sniffs the brew extravagantly and exclaims how delicious stone soup is. As the villagers begin to show interest, he mentions how good the soup would be with just a little cabbage in it. A villager brings out a cabbage to share. This episode repeats itself until the soup has cabbage, carrots, onions, and beets, indeed, a substantial soup that feeds everyone in the village.
This story teaches us that sharing is especially important when we perceive a limitation. This is normally when we tend to constrict, hoard or withdraw. This principle can also apply to sharing energy, putting conditions on giving love, or holding back our ideas (perhaps because we are afraid that others will “copy” us). The traveler represents the potential within each of us to inspire others to be more generous.
3 Ways to Be More Generous:
- The one thing that we all value is “time.” Take a moment to think of ways you can be more generous with your time. Can you start by being generous with yourself? Can you give yourself the gift of a yoga class every week so you feel the goodness of your own heart? Then share your time by calling someone to listen, offer to walk a friend’s dog, babysit, go grocery shopping for a friend, volunteer at a soup kitchen.
- Consider the quality of your generosity. It’s one thing to give away things you don’t like or are bored with, but what about something more important? It is easy to get caught up with the idea of having or doing MORE for the sake of more. However, this more-is-better philosophy forsakes quality. Go beyond this by pulling a couple things from your closet that you love, and give that away.
- Be more open about sharing ideas. One has to look no further than what happened to Encarta after Wikipedia opened the floodgates of information. I applaud other professionals, such as Chase Jarvis, who operates an open business model for budding photographers. For years I have shared class plans, yoga playlists, philosophical class themes, posted detailed yoga retreat itineraries online with the intention that they inspire others. I consult for free to help others cultivate new business ideas. I want students to build on what I do to create something even better. To me imitation is flattering. It is our responsibility as members of a human tribe to be as generous as possible in sharing our intellectual currency.
Philosopher Maimonides pictured giving on 8 spiritual levels. The first two get to the heart of yoga right away.
- “The motivation for real giving finds its source in the internal self, not in the expectations of others.”
- “Anonymous giving – happy people don’t expect a return. They give because it comes from the heart and they believe that joy and happiness are abundant. They aren’t going to run out.”
Let’s come together and open our hearts to all the ways we can be more generous with our spirit, our positive energy, our kind thoughts, our love, our time. And remember your personal understanding of the value of sharing is a reflection of who you are.
Love yourself, love your day, love your life,
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
~ John Wesley
Editor’s note: This is another amazing guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia. Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted! Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.
Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @alchemytours, @inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.