Mindful Giving Makes All the Difference
What does your son want for Christmas? Or your husband for Hanukkah? What would give your sister that expression of true delight that you hope to see when you give a gift?
There is no question. What they would truly all love is the gift of you; that special essence that only you have and you can give.
A wool scarf, given with love and a desire to keep your friend warm and happy is very different than buying something because it was on sale and easy to ship.
To give of that quality that is unique to you is not as difficult as it sounds. And, no, it does not mean more time. You don’t have to bake, build or crochet your gifts, although, those are options. It simply means that you have an opportunity to bring more of yourself to the gift giving ritual. And, by being more present and alive in your giving, you’ll be more alive to yourself. Giving a gift that is of value asks you to experience the joy and beauty of your own being first.
There are two people in my life who always give the best gifts: my sister Conni and Master Instructor Hyongok Kent. My daughter relishes opening Aunt Conni’s gifts. I just wish Conni could see her face and hear her exclamations of happiness (I’ll have to secretly video tape her next time). Her gifts are not expensive, but they express both what Conni loves and her understanding of a teenage girl: little bottles of eau de cologne, perfect earrings, a necklace with a pendant that references the musical Journey performed in that year.
I know how she does it. She does it with love and respect of teenage girls, and with a heart that enjoys the simple, beautiful and fun things of life.
Hyongok comes from the gift giving tradition of South Korea. Wrapped in a beautiful cloth that you return to the giver, her gifts reflect her wisdom, her knowledge of us, and are given with the joy and smile that is the real gift. Her essence is in what she gives. She just brought me and Danny wool shirts and a beautiful display of green and herbal teas for us to mix and make our own green tea concoctions. It is both beautiful to look at (see the picture) and Danny and I are enjoying sharing our favorite combinations. My wool shirt is of a deep green blue. “Your favorite color, right?” she asked when I wore it the next day. Absolutely! I could wear that shirt every day – warm and soft, Danny and I both prefer natural fibers and Hyongok knows that.
I get nervous around gift giving, that I’m not “good” at giving gifts. But, if I drop into that feeling, into the emptiness and fear that is the source of that misconception, and stay with the physical experience of fear and emptiness, it shifts into a more open and creative place. The tendency is to avoid the nervousness, the feelings that we’re not good enough, that we don’t have anything of value to give. We put that nervousness into doing more to look externally; shopping or browsing a catalog to find a gift. From that place I spend too much money on the wrong things. The result is an empty bank account and a negative view of the holidays.
But, if I stay with that initial feeling of nervous energy and drop into my center, my “gut” for a few minutes (not a lot of time, but it can feel like forever), I feel my lungs open to a deeper breath, and my mind quiet as it focuses on the awareness of empty, nervous energy. And finally, I feel an alive presence within me, a creative place; a place of knowing and feeling myself. It is a lesson in, and a benefit of, Body Sensing. Planning and shopping for the holidays from this place is a very different experience. Rather than stressful obligation, the options narrow down to what is really important: the warmth, the smiles, the connection.
What do you love that you’d like to share with your friends and family? Or, if you put yourself into their shoes, what would they love? What is most important is that you share of your experience, of your wisdom, of you. In the giving, you’ll get so much in return.