The residents of the Institute chose to practice generosity for the month of December, which feels harmonious with this time of year and the coming holidays. Our intention, however, is to practice generosity in a much more meaningful way than gift giving. Buying a present for someone with real care for their well-being is certainly a fine practice any time of year, but can also be an empty ritual, even an obligation.
Real generosity springs from the heart not from the pocket. Real generosity arises easily from the sense of deep connection that we experience when we practice Yoga and free ourselves from the limiting thoughts that divide us. It can take many forms: a warm smile, taking time to appreciate someone or a silent prayer offered with sincerity to uplift a friend. Simply listening to someone with full attention can be a powerful way to offer support and care.
Sharing the gifts and blessings we have received with others is a natural impulse when we acknowledge our abundance and escape the self-centered messages of our culture. Sharing generously opens our hearts to the love and compassion that is our true nature and is ultimately more fulfilling than keeping things for ourselves.
In her book, The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Devi comments on the teaching of Astheya: “In our lives we have many occasions to give. In the simplest way, Astheya tells us not to steal. As it expands your heart, it says, give. For maximum benefit, do not even wait for someone to ask, be alert, and never miss an opportunity to give, give, give. Sri Swami Sivanandaji’s students who hoped to emulate his most generous nature, gave him the nickname of Swami Give-ananda (the bliss of giving).”