Generosity comes from the heart, when it comes

purple-mat-yoga-classGenerosity is one of those very typically-talked-about yoga principles. Others will undoubtedly come to mind and are also likely to show up in a subsequent blog. Today I am present to generosity, or more specifically, it’s lack.

I am a mother of 5 children ranging from 17 to 4 years of age.  If there is a perfect place to see lack of generosity in action, it’s my house. And I’m out to change that. First, though, I’m going to talk about generosity as it relates to yoga (this is a yoga blog after all).

I recently went to a class and by the time I got there, it was pretty packed. My favored yoga class spots were already taken, so it was catch as catch can at that point. I spotted what could pass for an open row and headed there. Two gorgeously clad young women were sitting on their mats chatting amicably. I reached the open spot, unrolled my mat, put it down and discovered that this “row” was about 6 inches shorter than my mat. I gazed disappointedly at the 6 inches of my purple mat draped over the mat of the gorgeously clad chatting young woman, gazed up to look at her, smiled, and watched as she went right on amicably chatting. Interesting.

I wondered at the motivation of this young woman. Was she deliberately not moving her mat, was she geometrically challenged, or just oblivious?. I smiled at her chatting partner who gave a ghost of a smile and looked away. No help there.

It took a person of authority (i.e., in the employ of the establishment hosting the class) to get these two lovelies to actually move. And as I tried very, very hard not to smirk triumphantly as all the inches of my mat made contact directly with the floor,  I contemplated yoga as a discipline. No doubt these young women had a wide variety of other activities in which to partake on a Sunday morning. And yet they were here. In a yoga class. Why? And where was the yoga spirit of, well, generosity?

It occurred to me later as I watched my children bicker that generosity is really not the default way that human beings show up. With the exception of my first-born, among my children’s first words were “mine!” So how do we cultivate generosity? What to do about both my children’s and these young women’s avoidance of sharing?
Generosity, like yoga, is a practice. And, like yoga, the more you practice, the more the practice expands. In the yoga case, these women were effectively made to be generous. Or at least it took putting them in a position where their need for the approval of an authority figure outweighed their desire to keep things as they were.

In the case of my children’s most recent spat, I decided to allow the situation itself to pull for an outcome. With some time, and some yelling, they both figured out that sharing would be in both of their best interests. When you don’t put generosity out there. You get none back. In the case of my children, each realized that if they didn’t share, then they wouldn’t get shared with. I got the pleasure of watching this actually play out and get resolved. In the case of my yoga class mates, I didn’t. But I like to think that some day in the not-to-distant future, the lovelies are going to need somebody else to be generous. I wish I could be there to see what they discover.

Categories: Lifestyle

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