By Amala Cattafi, SVA Board President
In order to feel the awe and humility of gratitude, you have to let go. You can’t analyze and evaluate what you’ve been given. While this sounds easy, it can be so very difficult. Especially when the gift is the gift of your Self. It can be so easy to look around, compare yourself and your experiences with others, focusing only on what you have not yet realized.
Yoga says, “Just let go. Let yourself be overwhelmed.” OK…how?
“In the moment gratitude arises, when you get your ego out of the way, when you get to ‘oh wow, I am deeply touched,’ you can let your heart be touched and let down your guard. You give up who you usually are, and then you are propelled into who you really are.” — Swami Nirmalananda
I confess that generosity has always been easier for me than gratitude. Not that I am not thankful, it is just that I often tend to focus on others’ needs first. I find it easier to give a gift than to receive it, perhaps not feeling worthy. Maybe receiving is easier for you. Generosity and gratitude are like the two sides of the same coin. Generosity will help you find the gratitude that’s there. Likewise, awe of true gratitude will open your heart to generosity.
For example, when you have a deep experience of your Self in meditation, during Shaktipat, or at darshan, it’s easy to understand it is the greatest gift from the Guru. You melt into gratitude and your heart immediately opens wide. Your mind stops and you want to live in that feeling. In that moment, overwhelming generosity flows with ease.
Flip the coin. Think of a moment when you had an impulse to give a financial gift or to give of your time and energy. Fearless generosity arose within you. It bubbled up like gently simmering milk. Did you shut it down, or let yourself go into it? When you second-guessed it or shut it down, you likely felt regret, but you shut that down too. Your mind activates all the reasons why you shouldn’t have listened to your heart.
What about the times when you let fearless generosity guide you? When you offered a donation that seemed beyond what was “reasonable;” when you offered yourself for seva that you “had no time for;” when you got your ego out of the way to apologize to someone you may have hurt, even when you were “right.” If you look at these moments, I would bet that putting yourself out there left an afterglow of deep gratitude.
Grace is propelling both gratitude and generosity. It moves you, overwhelms you and opens your heart, which opens up a deeper perspective. It shifts your focus from what you lack to what you have. It opens you up to the miracle of being vibrantly alive. This is why we are here — to live in that knowing.
“True generosity opens your heart and quiets your mind… Practicing generosity invites yoga into your relationships with money, with time and with other people.” — Swami Nirmalananda
In this season of giving, please follow your impulse to give in support of the Ashram and all Swamiji gives you. In this way, you support our ability to continue to open you up. Your loving gratitude and fearless generosity make it all possible. Click here to make your one-time donation or begin a monthly pledge.
I offer my reflection on letting go into the 3 G’s in loving gratitude to Swami Nirmalananda Saraswatii.
Namaste, Amala Lynn Cattafi-Heinlein
Om Svaroopa Svasvabhava Namo Namah