Thursday, August 14, 2008

A day of rest...

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!


SarahJ said...

Great discussion starter, Jan.

Anything we fight against, keeps us locked in a pattern almost like glue. If there is negative energy around "giving" or really anything, that's a sign that we're on to something important. It's not what we think it is.

What we tend to do is stay fixed in our position and make it about anything or anyone but ourself. We, in effect, are in our own way. But, we can choose another way by "acceptance" of how we feel about giving and see what else shows up. See how we the focus shifts when we surrender to what is. So, we feel stuck and unappreciated by others.
Surrender to that feeling, accept it and even bless it and notice how your energy shifts.

I don't think you can get clarity to your issues until you accept them and stop resisting what is.

When we stop putting energy into resisting what is, something new happens.

The paradox of the spiritual path is "nothing happens until something moves" and that movement always has to start with within us.

My two cents.

Anonymous said...

I like blogs that are thought-provoking!.
Some of the most contented people I know are "givers" - generous with their time, money, and talents. In the main, however, they are able to choose how, when, and to whom they give. Where the act of giving is forced, and in response to a negative event for both giver and givee (illness or frailty for example) then it's easy to understand how the giver can feel depleted. We can give without limit to our children and expect no reward - but this is far easier when we have options - a brilliant partner, money for childcare, helpful relatives etc - a single parent with no means of taking a break from it all is bound to wonder if it's all worth it. And in these days of instant gratification, waiting until your child is a happy, well-balanced adult to know that your sacrifices were worth it may be too long for some. Personally I feel I gain from at least "attempting" to be a generous person (like everyone I don't always succeed....) -eg. always say please and thank you, smile and say hello to the neighbours, send the occasional email to friends, write a good review online, donate to charity, pick up litter .... all the usual stuff .... and above all try to listen to others, forgive people's failings, and to focus on what you have, not what you want.
Thank you for your blog Jan. It brightens up my day :-)

Love Angela xxxxx

PetalsYoga said...

Thanks Sarah and Angela for your wisdom and insights. I actually count you both as terrific "givers" in my life. I am deeply thankful for you both.