Here are some reflections on the recent series of Yoga Retreats which were run at Laya Point with Uma Dismore-Tuli from 9 -20 March…
Thoughts on Permaculture, Yoga & Gift Economy
One of the outstanding points of the recent yoga retreats was to offer the teachings as a gift. This is an exciting and radical way of running a business. Here at Laya Point, we were excited at the opportunity to support someone, such as Uma and her team, who are bold enough to make the move to do this!
You might be familiar with ‘’de-growth activist’’, Charles Eisenstein and his exploration of Sacred Economics. Sacred Economics essentially questions the motive for exponential, one-way acquisition of wealth and calls for diverse forms of conscious and compassionate exchanges for time, materials and energy.
For some of us, money is the easiest way to show appreciation and for others, financial exchange is a restricted commodity. So we need to look diversely at what we have of value and meaning to offer others. This shift in awareness helps to appreciate the multifaceted forms of self-worth and places qualities such as generosity and gratitude at the heart of any exchange.
Transactions become personal, heartfelt exchanges where the wellbeing of all involved is considered.
In a yogic sense this is aligned with the Vedic and Buddhist value of offering teachings on the universal principles for life and living (Dharma), freely. It also corresponds with generosity and gratitude, two of the six Buddhist Pāramitās, the yogic perfections of human spirit.
In financial permaculture this way of doing things raises an interesting topic for discussion, ie. How to appreciate the value of an experience? It also requires consideration to create alternatives for exchanges of time and energy which are fair and mutually supportive. One foundation for exploring this is based on the 8 Forms of Capital (material, social, financial, living, experiential, intellectual, spiritual, cultural) and was conceived by Marxist philosopher, Pierre Bourdieu.
Uma’s story is an interesting one. Thoughout each retreat, she gave a straight forward talk explaining the way to engage with Gift Economy. Uma discussed the efforts of those involved, the risks, costs, time and energy of offering the teachings, she cited with clarity the decision to depart the usual ‘price-tag’ way of doing business in this new approach.
Just a note, Uma is not part of any monastic institution which has a long tradition of support and shelter for those who are a part of it; or indeed backed up by a second or third household income. In fact, with a handful of staff, a family, a mortgage and all the usual pressures of modern life, she has everyday financial commitments to meet. However, some time ago after personally hearing the story of Polly Higgins, Lead Advocate for the Earth and leader of the Eco-rights movement, she decided to take the stance to engage in a heart based form of business exchange.
Over the 8 days of retreats we saw the creative, generous, beautiful and heartfelt response to the Gift Economy method. What began as an experiment into Gift Economy proved to be a successful way of offering one’s service. I’d like to believe that this is good sign for the future and that there really is enough to go around, if done in an honest and wise way.
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