As a yogi, I am constantly aware of the concept of Seva yoga and Karma yoga, i.e., service and giving freely with the premise that what goes around comes around.
However, I’ve noticed more and more that it’s becoming easier and easier to forget.
Whilst I’d love to teach yoga for free to those who could benefit most from it, unfortunately, I have bills to pay, just like the rest of the world. I do a bit of volunteering, but probably not nearly as much as I should, yet I find myself thinking about how nice it would be and how great a person I would be if only I could go live in an ashram in India without any bills. Then I’d work hard for free, day in, day out, full of the joys of selfless service, without the worry of paying for board and lodging.
Even I have to be big enough to admit that after a year or two of wafer thin mattresses and no air conditioning I’d probably be begging to come back to London and earn money for selling my soul in the corporate world.
So what is it about today’s society that makes it so desperate for material wealth and not care about the amazing happiness and well-being that comes from giving freely, expecting nothing in return?
The recent results from the UN World Happiness Report 2012 valuing countries well-being over GDP showed Denmark coming out on top, not because of its wealth, but because of the political freedom, social networks and lack of corruption its people benefit from.
So maybe this is the way forward. Bhutan, who were the first to acknowledge the concept of GNH (Gross National Happiness) are thought to be more happy than other countries due to their predominantly Buddhist background of acceptance and caring for others.
Personally, I’ve found a small corner of the blogosphere (along with most yogis / healers / spiritual teachers) where the idea of giving freely is widely accepted as the best and only way to live.
Most of the new breed of location independent ‘solopreneurs’ will tell you that the best way to make a living and live happily and freely is to give lots and lots of really useful stuff away – for free. They share with each other, help people, guide them in the direction of things which may help them better, even if that means losing a sale.
I’ve known many yoga teachers stay behind for half an hour talking to students, guiding them and advising them and coaches who will take less than half the price of a normal session in order to make it more affordable for someone who could really use their help.
These people are often the happiest people I know, far more happy than many ‘richer’ people, because they realize that in order to feel free, we have to not feel trapped.
Being trapped can relate to not having enough money as much as having too much. I’ve personally noticed I fear losing money more than my partner because I’ve been very lucky financially so I’ve been fortunate never to have had to really worry about money. As he has had tough times, money doesn’t have the same hold over him that perhaps it does with me.
Think about this the next time you hold on to something you could give away – whether it’s your time, your expertise or your money. The first step to freedom is not allowing yourself to be trapped by the very things you hoped would free you. Give freely and get rid of the fear that keeps you trapped.