We must involve ourselves through action, but leave the rest to God and expect nothing. – T.K.V. Desikachar from “The Heart of Yoga; Developing a Personal Practice
This past weekend brought unusual and horrible tornadoes to central Illinois. The week before was a powerful typhoon in the Philippines that wiped out whole communities of people. With Christmas right around the corner there will be even more requests for toys, coats, money, food, books, time, and teddy bears for those in need, using all sorts of methods to convince us to give.
I have noticed recently that requests for aid often include a promise that all the money or supplies donated will go directly to those most in need. I see posts on Facebook about which are the most worthy organizations to give donations to and who should be avoided.
I understand why people are concerned about how their money is used. While it is not rocket science, it is complicated. We want to do more than help, we want to make a difference. We don’t need a party thrown for us, but a sincere thank you would be nice. Who needs our help the most? If I help this one time are they going to show up at my door every month asking for help? Is this person going to spend the money on booze, designer shoes, or on actual food? If I give money to an organization are they using my money to pay for leather couches instead of feeding starving children? Do I have enough resources right now so that I feel stable and secure before I help someone else out?
Karma yoga is defined as self-less action or action without expectation. There is precious little I do or give without some expectations. I generally give Christmas presents to people who I know will be giving one to me. In our family, like many others I know, we have set up a limit for how much you can spend on a person so that no one spends too much money and makes the rest of us feel cheapish and sheepish.
I am not a reckless helper or giver. My mind stays very busy asking all those questions. My mind stays so busy judging the situation and tripping over my expectations that I am often paralyzed and do nothing.
Karma yoga is a practice of letting go of those expectations, quieting my judgmental mind and actual doing something. This is no small task. Seriously. I’m not sure it’s completely possible. But, I can practice. And I can at least TRY.
The next Daily Bread Yoga retreat will be all about practicing Karma Yoga. We will practice the physical yoga to help quiet & clarify our mind to even just recognize the long list of expectations we all have. And then maybe we can let them go a little. We’ll see. Who knows what will happen.
It will be Saturday, December 7th, 9a.m.-noon at the lovely Philo Presbyterian Church in Philo, IL. The cost is $20, but feel free to give more as ALL of the money will go to The Prison Yoga Project and the Wesley Evening Food Pantry (a local Chambana food pantry). I promise I will not use your money to stock pile yoga pants. And if $20 is too much for you right now but you really want to come — please still come! I want you to be there. Please invite friends and family, and let me know that you will be there!
peace on your head (I seriously don’t have any expectations about that),