Practicing Aparigraha and Giving to Others
Written by Nancy Weshkoff
The holiday season is quickly approaching. We are bombarded with messages about things we should purchase and special sales. As I listen to all of this, I think about the principles outlined in the yoga sutras, the basis on which our yoga system is built. In the “yamas” portion of the yoga sutras, one of the sutras refers to “aparigraha” which means being content with what we have and abstinence from greed. Do we really need another handbag, tv set, game, etc., or can we be happy with what we have?
It was a little over a year ago that Superstorm Sandy hit the Long Island area. We lost lives on that terrible day. Many people lost their homes and possessions. One of the lessons of Sandy is that it gave us an appreciation of what is really important – being safe and having our friends and families. Earlier this month, a horrible typhoon hit the Philippines killing thousands of people and causing unbearable destruction. We watch in horror at the reality that so many families have lost loved ones.
And back here in New York, there are families who do not have enough food to eat each day or people who are homeless with no place to sleep and no food. With the holidays coming, I also think about children and what a joyous time the holidays can be. Yet for some, their families cannot afford food and there is no money for a small holiday gift for a child.
At Moonflower Yoga, we want to do our part to bring some joy to families in our area this year. We have been part of an ongoing food drive, working with two of Moonflower’s students, Veronica and Luther, to collect food for the hungry. Last year the food drive yielded food for 600 hungry families. This year the goal is to feed 800 families. I’m proud that we have filled three large boxes with non-perishable food to help this cause. At the same time, we are working with the US Marine’s Toys for Tots program to bring a toy to a needy child this holiday season who might not receive one. Last year we collected 50 toys for Toys for Tots, and we are looking to exceed that number this year.
Any help that you can give to a food drive, Toys for Tots, or a charity of your choice is always welcome. I go back to the yoga philosophy of aparigraha. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself: “Do I really need this thing I’m buying or do I already have enough?” If you have enough, could you instead donate a portion of that money to a worthwhile charity to help someone who is need? The reward from knowing that you helped someone can be amazing!
From all of us at Moonflower Yoga in Bellmore, in Long Island’s Nassau County, we thank you for your generosity.
My last blog spoke about the need for kindness and for helping and supporting those in need. I wrote that blog before the word “Sandy” became a sad part of our vocabulary here on Long Island. In the aftermath of Sandy, that has become even more prevalent. But first some “Sandy” thoughts:
Storms have come and gone on Long Island. And New Yorkers tend to be a resilient bunch of people. It is probably for this reason that it did not seem possible to have the type of destruction that happened to our beautiful area of the world. And yet it did happen here. Long Island, and other parts of New York, will never quite be the same. Houses and cars were completely destroyed. Trees that withstood hundreds of other storms tumbled to the ground in Sandy. Long Island’s amazing beaches were ravaged. The beach boardwalks that many of us loved to walk in the summer are gone. Roads that were miles away from the water became flooded. And most sadly lives were lost.
When the last of the storm clouds passed, and we painfully saw the destruction Sandy had left behind, it was a sad awakening for many of us. We tended to take for granted the things in our everyday life. Now you may no longer have a roof over your head. There are floods and damage all around us. 90% of Long Island lost its electricity and suddenly many were in the dark with no heat or hot water on some very cold nights. If your car managed to survive (and many did not), there were few gas stations open with very long lines, and you may not be able to get there anyway because the road you took has been washed away or was now several feet deep in sand washed to land by the storm. One day you have everything and the next day it is painfully gone.
Sandy taught us some painful lessons, which we are still learning every day as we recover from her fury. Never take anything for granted. Enjoy each moment in your life. Be grateful, and spend more time with those you love. TV sets and furniture can be replaced. Lives cannot.
It has become even more important for those of us who survived this terrible storm to help those that are struggling to get their lives back. Before Sandy, over 300,000 people on Long Island did not have enough food to each day. Post Sandy, this number has sadly grown. Moonflower Yoga is trying to do its part to help those in our town of Bellmore and all of Long Island to get back on their feet. We have been collecting non-perishable food items for Long Island Cares (Harry Chapin Food Bank) and new, unwrapped toys for the US Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots program so a child can receive a toy this holiday season who would normally not receive one. Moonflower Yoga ran a “yoga-thon” on Sunday of free yoga classes in exchange for a donation to these charities. We ask that everyone help donate to one of these wonderful organizations or the American Red Cross so that we can start healing from Sandy.