No matter your path of belief or faith, generosity is usually a cornerstone principle of every spiritual or religious tradition. When I lived in Syracuse, I used to attend a church that sang the same song every time the offering basket was passed, a song to remind us that generosity is rarely one-sided: “Give, and it will come back to you.” As in this Christian hymn, Karma Yoga (the yoga of action) states that our choice of being generous (or, the choice of NOT being generous) comes back to us as well – in this life, or in the next. But since we don’t know how or when our generosity will return to us, or in what form, it’s probably best to let each act of generosity be an unconditional gift.
Opportunities to practice generosity are all around us, especially during the holidays. The spirit of giving also offers us an excellent chance to practice detachment – from our money, our time, ourselves. And though you may feel the tightness in your heart from the pressures of a collapsed economy, consider the world’s charities, causes, and organizations that rely on the generosity of donations – they’re feeling it too.
Your generosity could be in the form of money, time, effort – or simply with your intentions. You might silently dedicate your yoga practice to a cause, and let that dedication manifest for the rest of the day. Whatever your financial situation or spiritual conviction, I think Kevin Griffin’s challenge from his book One Breath at a Time is a powerful holiday mantra: “Consider all of your aversions to being generous as false.”
Happy holidays, Om shanti…
Poses for cultivating generosity:
Sukhasana (Comfort Pose)
Anjali Mudra (Prayer Pose; anjali means “offering”)