As a result of practicing yoga, I have changed the way I think about generosity. I have learned to give without expectation and to always remain mindful of the quality of my generosity.
Generosity in yoga is an interesting learning based partly on two of the five Yamas:
- It means the opposite of taking (Asteya) whereby we share freely with a focused quality effort.
- Generosity implies looking at life through a prism of abundance instead of scarcity. In yoga, this is known as Aparigraha: there is more than enough for everyone.
As Rumi says, “In generosity and helping others: be like the river. In compassion and grace: be like the sun.”
5 Ways to Be More Generous
Unconditional generosity, giving, and helping others is from a heart of unconditional loving kindness. Here below are suggestions for how to be more generous in daily life.
1. Give more time.
Take a moment to think of ways you can be more generous with your time. Can you start by being generous with yourself? Give yourself the gift of a yoga class every week so you feel the goodness of your own heart. Then, share your time in calling someone to listen to them, offer to walk someone’s dog so they can have alone time, babysit, or go grocery shopping for a friend.
2. Meditate and offer your efforts outward.
Try reciting or singing, or even just thinking about, this meditation: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (translation below).
May all beings everywhere be happy, peaceful and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to the peace, happiness and freedom for all!
lokah: location, realm, all universes existing now
samastah: all beings sharing that same location
sukhino: centered in happiness and joy, free from suffering
bhav: the divine mood or state of unified existence
antu: may it be so, it must be so (antu used as an ending transforms this mantra into a powerful pledge)
3. Consider the quality of your generosity.
It's one thing to give away those things you don't like or have grown tired of, but what about giving what you value the most? In our Western world, we get caught up with the idea of doing MORE for the sake of more.
However, this "more is better" philosophy forsakes quality. Instead of giving away all the clothes you don’t like or haven't worn in ages, go through your closet and pull out a couple things you love, perhaps even something with tags still on it, and give those away.
“Money is but one venue for generosity. Kindness is an even more valuable currency.”— Alan Cohen
4. Be more open about sharing ideas.
For years I have shared class plans, yoga playlists, philosophical class themes, posted detailed yoga retreat itineraries in line with the intention that they inspire others. I openly consult for free to help others cultivate new business ideas.
I want you to use what I have as a stepping stone to create something even better. To me, imitation is flattery. It is our responsibility as members of a human tribe to be as generous as possible in sharing even our intellectual currency.
5. Love yourself.
Make time for loving self-care. Make appointments with yourself to be generous in the ways you need most: emotionally, spiritually, physically…and act accordingly. Remember, the happiest people never believe they will run out, or need to qualify for a time-out or wellness break, they just give it to themselves.
Today more than ever, 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, and our time. And remember, your personal understanding of the value of giving is a reflection of who you are and how much you love yourself and the life you lead.