I've spent the last several days whizzing around from teaching yoga to screaming kids at pools and parties. It's been so good but I can admit I'm tired today and glad to have an unscheduled day to recharge my batteries.
Which brings up something that we touched on in the meditation class that I led yesterday. Giving and the act of giving in relation to ones own wellspring of energy. Many people in the class had an adverse reaction to the word "giving", as it touched on what I think is common for those of us who spend much time "taking care of" others. They felt depleted and taken advantage of by others, and therefore the word "giving" for them had a negative rather than positive connotation. I can easily see how people (and especially women) in this day and age could get to this point. We give as parents, friends, and even children to aging parents almost incessantly. In "taking care of others" we often forget to take care of ourselves.
Now, this was not exactly the type of giving I thought I was bringing into the classroom. I naively thought that if we brought forward acts of giving that we had experienced or witnessed, it would be inspirational and instructional as to how acts of selflessness have deep and lasting impact on others. Instead this resistance to giving came forward and was very real and emotional. I realize now, that the act of giving is so deeply tied to our feelings about ourselves and our own ability to give to ourselves first. If we do not take the time to heal ourselves, recharge our batteries, and set healthy limits for ourselves, then the simple act of giving becomes a mountain to conquer rather than a cool lake to refresh ourselves in.
I don't think "giving" need be tied an action at all though. To me, giving can be a state of mind. If I live in a world where I consistently exercise the muscle of "giving" then I don't need to work at this. By assigning value to the "idea" of giving and embracing it as an ideal, I release myself from feelings of guilt or oppression. If I begin to feel that I've missed an opportunity to give of myself in a certain situation, I can simply send feelings of loving-kindness towards the object of my intention and then move forward from there. Of course there is no substitute for action but a simple thank you is after all, an act of giving.
I must say that I brought the discussion home with me to my husband, and it brought up roadblocks for my husband as well. I now see how loaded this concept actually is. (Actually his problems had more to do with his whole-hearted belief in the necessity of revenge in order to attain justice, but that's a whole other matzah ball.)
So I thought I'd pose this as a topic for discussion and thought. If you'd like to comment or continue this conversation, please feel free to post below to share your ideas and wisdom with the rest of us.
Until then, a very heartfelt thank you for reading and staying in touch with me,
p.s. Good luck Simon cleaning up the mess I made with your class!