Category Archives: giving

Voluntary Simplicity

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The holiday season can be very difficult if you love it or hate it (as the music, aesthetic and mania can be pervasive).  I am one of the former, I enjoy communing with every friend and family member possible, decorating, pumping Christmas music, finding the right gifts for those I exchange with, baking cookies and sending cards.  As the world turns quieter and colder in the northern hemisphere, it could be a time to introvert and enjoy longer evenings, but the added items on my to do list seem to be distracting year after year.  A few years ago, in an attempt to slow down I tried a Voluntary Simplicity Experiment– an idea to gift experiences rather than things– and for everything that I received for a year, I would have to get rid of something else.  It felt really good and still does.  I hope you give it a try or figure out what your own Voluntary Simplicity Experiment might be.
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Giving and Receiving

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“Just breathe and receive,” this experience, right now, good or bad. “Just breathe and receive”, has become my mantra more than any others in the past few months. Sometimes it is something really positive, an unexpected act of generosity or thoughtful kindness; sometimes I am “breathing and receiving” the enormity of an unpleasant situation or an unforeseen obstacle. Particularly in the more disagreeable moments the conscientious inhalation has allowed me to commune with the experience to: more fully learn from it; realize it wasn’t as bad as I thought; or completely let it go.

Just breathe and receive. Being in a place of learning to accept support and help, I have become more aware that so many of my friends, family members and colleagues are true givers from deep, kind and generous depths, even when it is exhausting for them to continue providing and supplying from energetic stores that have been depleted. It seems intrinsic in their spirits. They stretch wide to embrace so many other people to effect, heal, empower, provide for. Oftentimes, putting the needs and wants of others before their own. The flipside of this output, as I have experienced: it can been very, very hard to ask for help, to look for support in an interdependent kind of way and to receive it graciously.

One of my dear friends, recently got terribly ill. She is a powerful nurturer, phenomenal bodyworker, conscientious studio owner, amazing teacher who is constantly giving of herself to her students, her clients and her community near and far. She fell very sick in the midst of a training; which became an opportunity for a few of her colleagues to take care of her, and for another teacher to step into a spotlight in a beautiful way. And for the first time in a long time I believe she was able to rest. Her body knew more than her mind did that she would be meticulously taken care of.

In midst of crisis, trauma and emergency, we can look inside and be independent or learn how to ask for help. It becomes easier to ask for help when big things go down, when we practice in little ways everyday. One of my teachers says when you ask for help, you are simply giving another the opportunity to do something good. And I believe this is the only sustainable way to keep reaching out and spreading light. It feels so good to ask and receive (even if, for me, there is a bigger leap of faith than in knowing I can and will get it done myself).

As we are about to embark on the “season of giving” (because it begins after Halloween, now right?), I am looking forward enjoying the current shift in my perspective: to receive graciously. That maybe these next couple of months can be about giving and receiving, and the delight in the cycle.