Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Abundance

Studying yoga philosophy, I've often encountered the idea of abundance. Yoga teaches that we should trust that we have enough and that we'll always have what we need. Yoga also teaches that we should practice non-attachment and greedlessness. Practicing greedlessness, or aparigraha, is an important part of step one of The Eight-Limbed Path.

Darren Main explains that, to feel greed, you must believe there is a lack or scarcity. If you believe you'll always have what you need, there is no reason to be selfish or attached. In fact, if you believe in abundance, you can cultivate selflessness. I love this idea. I want to cultivate selflessness, and I want to stop worrying that my family won't have what they need, or that we'll lose what we have, etc. Worrying benefits no one, and I feel ridiculous and guilty for worrying about such things when most of the people in this world have so much less than we do.

So I've chosen to incorporate a belief in abundance into my life. It's not easy, and I'll probably always struggle with it. I have to remind myself that I don't get to define what constitutes "enough." I just have to trust. I'm taking another look at what faith means to me. Undeniably, things like the earthquake in Haiti test my faith in this concept of abundance, and I won't pretend to fit what has happened there into some neat little tenet of yogic philosophy (were I to try, I'd be in way over my head, and I wouldn't be writing from an authentic place anyway). I am merely offering this idea of abundance to you in case you find something useful in it. Perhaps it will settle into your thoughts for awhile and then, later, take you by surprise, as it did me.

For a long time, when I thought about abundance and greed and non-attachment, I thought about stuff. (Consumerist culture-type stuff.) And I thought about money. (Happily, a belief in abundance makes it easier to give money away to those who need it more.) But, recently, I heard someone saying that we should also trust that we have an abundance of time. I can't remember who said it, or where I was when I heard it, but that doesn't matter. For me, trusting in such abundance would be nothing short of life-changing.

For as far back as I can remember, I've spent nearly every waking minute thinking about what's next. I want to fit as much into this one life as I possibly can, and, to achieve this, I've become the most scheduled person I know. My husband tells people I'm happiest when I'm busiest, and he doesn't understand how I can disagree. And, really, how can I disagree when all evidence says he's right? I set unreasonable goals for myself before each weekend has even begun, and then I close out my Sunday night feeling guilty that I didn't get to everything. I think the only time I'm truly present is when I'm practicing yoga.

Trusting that I have an abundance of time changes everything. Everything! I can't adequately describe the relief--the freedom--it brings. I don't have to jump from activity to activity. I don't feel so rushed. I still fight my old ways, of course, but I'm much more conscious of the decisions I make about how I spend my time. More than anything, I'm trying to stay in the present moment and appreciate it.

For several years, I've had a sticker hanging in my closet that says, "The meaning of life is to live it." I realize now that I didn't really understand it before, but I'm starting to figure it out.


(The above paraphrased quote by Darren Main is from his book, Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic, which I highly recommend.)

(Photo info: I took this photo a few years ago at a special exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. This statue is called 12 Buddhas.)

1 comment:

  1. Tiff - you are so right, and what a valuable lesson. The idea of trusting that we have an abundance of time is one that I struggle with also, and unfortunately, it is not until you realize that you can't do everything that you realize you don't have to. We will have to help each other keep perspective!

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