Every year around this time, the theme becomes the same. It is the time of year of coming together with people we love, giving gifts, sharing food, being loving and kind. The celebration of Christmas as the celebration of pure love, and giving, offering and sharing our own energy to that pure love.
The theme of generosity has been in my life a lot recently. Loads of projects have been born in the last few weeks/months and all of them have been inspired and helped along by the generosity of others. For that I am truly, truly grateful.
I was having a conversation with a friend about it who commented that she thought someone was helping my projects in hope of some kind of return, and therefore it was not pure generosity. What really struck me at that moment was firstly the deep knowledge that this is not true, especially in this instance, but more importantly that I know there is a way of giving that is truly open, truly without hope for a return. That giving is an outpouring of love, not an expectation of a return, and that for me is true Bhakti, true Love, true generosity.
Yesterday my bike got a flat tire, and another cyclist stopped to help me fix the puncture. He did not ask my name, he did not chat me up, he did not ask anything. He just saw that I was in need and had the capacity to make an offering to help. This is that outpouring of generosity without need for return.
To me, love is not so much a noun, or a description of a feeling or state as it is a real action. To love is to do something. Of course giving is not the only expression of love. Watching and witnessing someone, listening, sitting with, being present to and available for, these are all deep and incredibly powerful expressions of love. In a sense, these are all giving – giving your full attention, giving our energy, opening ourselves to being with.
This month I am taught a workshop in Palo Alto using the Kriya “Heart of Gold.” It was an incredibly special experience, firstly (and perhaps most importantly) because I was sharing my teaching with my mother and her community. Deeply humbling. Deeply. But more than that, the students came with an openness of spirit, we started speaking of what they wanted from the workshop and their responses were so heartfelt. It created this amazing space for us to open up.
So the question I asked was “when in your life or in what situation are you truly able to be heartfelt and giving? when do you feel honest in that openhearted space? ” And then the answer for me came very clear: in situations in my life where i can give and do not really have much expectation of return. If I feel I need something from my actions, then I do not feel truly open-hearted. When I can act just because of the pleasure it will bring me and the other person, that is when I feel most free and open.
I am SO grateful for the kindness showed to me in my life, in so many facets and ways. And equally, or even more, I am so grateful to contribute to the lives of others. At this time of year, my birthday time, Christmastime, new years time, these dark long nights, it feels especially important to connect to that sense of giving, and how fulfilling it can be to be in the spirit of kindness. Last year in London, like little travelers, we got together and created a new little family for Christmas. And we started from the premise the presence is presents. And this year in my mother’s world, it feels the same way – to connect, just to be here, just presence is presents.
To me the spirit of Bhakti, and the spirit of Christmas is the same, the feeling of giving whatever we can, whatever we have, sharing it with others. Last year I wrote about a children’s play at the school I worked at, and their Christmas play with the song “Everything you give with love you give to him…AMAZING!” and that is how I feel. Everything given with love is a gift to all of creation and a gift to God. This year it feels less material and more like the gift of time, care, support, kindness, wisdom and love, this is the real gift to be given, this is the gift to be received. So I very humbly bow and offer what I can to you, to yours, and to all at this time of change of seasons, this time of shifting consciousness, this time of great growth in our collective lives.
May all beings know peace. May our yoga practice contribute to the well-being of all.
Om Tat Sat.