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Yoga Sutras Inspiring Sharing and Generosity

17 dec 2013 by Esther Ekhart

We take a look at the yoga sutras for inspiration on how to cultivate and inspire kindness this December

Our intention of the month for December has been the spirit of sharing and generosity. We can see lots of examples of this around us during the holiday season with people exchanging gifts and sharing meals together.
But how can we apply this intention on a more subtle level? In the way we are generous and sharing with non-material things?

We take a look at the Yoga Sutras for inspiration:

In the Yamas (or moral codes) Patanjali talks about:

Asteya

Translated as non-stealing. This reminds us to take only what is freely given and to be generous in our giving. At first this sounds like quite an obvious thing to live by. For the majority of us we can say we don’t steal because we think initially of material things such as money or belongings.  However, you can think about this in other ways. Are you taking attention away from someone? Are you late and so stealing someone’s time? Or their energy?

When we are around old family and friends, perhaps visiting places we lived when we were younger, it can sometimes bring up old patterns of thoughts and behaviours too. So it can be a good time to try to step back and observe ourselves.

The Sutras teach us that when we find it hard to follow the Yamas we should try to cultivate the opposite of our negative behaviours. So in the case of Asteya, this means we could try to be generous with our time and attention, or donate our time to a cause or volunteer.

Aparigraha

Another Yama we can look to for guidance. It is translated as non-grasping, non-possessiveness, non-holding through the senses, non-greed, non-indulgence, non-acquisitiveness.

This Yama is about letting go of things we don’t need, these can be belongings - or excess food and drink - but also old patterns and memories that no longer serve us. What can you let go of? What can you donate at this time?

Practice Aparigraha on a deeper level

On a deeper level, Aparigraha can be practiced as non-attachment, to all experiences, whether they are labeled as good or bad. Be fully engaged in whatever experience arises, but have no outcome attached to it and don't identify with it. Then a good experience can be enjoyed fully, but we don't cling or make it "mine", It just happens.. 

A bad thought or emotion is experienced too, but we don't believe or identify with them either and as a result they won't have the same or so much effect on us, they just happen..  (to no one in partcular)

Aparigraha is also about letting go of expectations about what we “should be”. During this time it is easy to get caught up in outcomes and expectations: we feel we should try to visit everyone, keep the house spotless for visitors, make the perfect meal. Notice when this comes up. Take a deep breath and let it go.

Non-attachment is not the same thing as detachment. Detachment can be an action of not caring and is often a defense mechanism to feel less or to stop feeling at all.

Try it, just let things happen as they are, not to a “me” or “mine” in particular, but to no one specific.

By practising Aparigraha and Asteya sharing becomes much more positive and easier as you begin to lose your attachment to those things.

If you let go a little, you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will discover complete peace.
Achaan Chah

 

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