The Gift of Giving: A Yogi’s Guide to the Holidays
During the holiday season, we’re exposed to a near-constant stream of messaging urging us to think about gifting and giving. But have you thought about the difference between those two words? Gifting strongly implies the presentation of a thing (the gift!), while giving is a lot more open-ended. As Liforme is in the business of making things (amazing yoga mats!), we can’t get too self-righteous about gifting. We’re actually big fans of life-improving, responsibly-made, eco-friendly gifts from ethical companies.
And we’re also huge fans of open-ended giving. If there is any abundance in your life, sharing it with others can go hand in hand with that nicely wrapped, long, rectangular cuboid under the tree. Because, while it’s lovely to exchange gifts with your nearest and dearest, it also feels really nice to expand the giving outside your immediate circle and make a difference in the lives of others. Yes, we said it: giving isn’t completely selfless. It’s actually ok to feel good about doing a good thing.
If you’re not sure how to translate an urge to give into the action of giving, we have some ideas for you. Some are quite obvious, others you may not have thought of. Some require your time, others your chequebook, still others your open heart and attention. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this, but we hope you will be inspired to give a little of what you have to someone who needs it.
1. Give Money or Time
Probably the most traditional way to give back is to make a donation of your money or time to a worthy organisation. Though opportunities abound during this season, remember that needs persist year round. If you have money, make a donation. If you have time, volunteer. Find a non-profit whose mission resonates with you and your contribution will be even more fulfilling.
If you prefer to do something closer to home, how about making a meal or walking the dog for a friend who has a new baby or an ill relative? Participate in a toy or food drive at your child’s school or at your church to help families in your community celebrate the holidays.
Give time to yourself by putting away your phone and disengaging from social media chatter and the non-stop barrage of (fake) news. Ban electronics from the dinner table so you can give your family your full attention.
2. Give Yoga
Once yoga has changed your life, you probably want to share it with the whole world. Take a newbie to class with you to help them get over those beginner’s jitters. If you have found some success as a teacher, could you afford to offer a free or donation class once a week (or once a month) to help give access to a more diverse population? Could you take it one step further by working with veterans, addicts, inmates, or any other group that is less likely to make it in to a yoga studio on their own?
3. Give to the Earth
As members of industrialised society, we all have a responsibility to make Earth-friendly choices whenever possible. Support environmentalist organisations, don’t buy bottled water, reduce your contribution to the fossil fuel economy by driving an electric car, cycling, or using public transport. Slowly make changes in your household’s energy consumption. Bring your own bags to the grocery store. Make sure that the companies from which you buy (i.e. support financially) reflect your own environmental values.
4. Pay it Backward
Ok, let’s assume for a moment that occasionally when you are driving to your volunteer gig (only ‘cause it’s too far to cycle), you pull your electric car up to a drive-through window. Undoubtedly it’s your local smoothie shop or organic farm stand. Where ever it is (ahem, Starbucks), pay it backward by telling the cashier that you’ll cover the cost of the order behind you. (If you’re worried that they’ve ordered lattes for the whole office, limit your contribution to whatever you can afford.) Often this will start a chain reaction of backwardness, bringing good cheer to the whole queue. And you get the nice feeling of having made a stranger’s day.
5. Give Kindness and Patience
That’s not such a tall order, is it? It’s crazy what can happen when you’re nice to other people! Oftentimes, kindness is closely related to patience, which actually circles back to giving time. Don’t be in such a rush to get wherever you’re going that it turns you into a rude and angry person. Make a practice of waiting for pedestrians to cross the street before you edge out into the intersection and of waving other cars ahead of you into that tricky merge. These little acts of kindness can reverberate through the traffic jam until everyone is dancing on their cars with Ryan Gosling. Turn every interaction with a customer service rep, retail clerk, or waiter into an opportunity to be as lovely as you possibly can. Behind words like ‘unfortunate outage’, ‘store policy’, and ‘we’re out of the chocolate cake’, these people are just people. Remember to treat them with kindness and respect.
6. Give Love
This is really what we’ve been talking about all along, isn’t it? Love encompasses everything we’ve mentioned above. Love is the ultimate renewable resource. When you share it, it makes more of itself. Who could use the gift of your love? Maybe it’s your partner or a friend or a relative or a pet or someone you don’t even know. Maybe it’s even yourself. The love we’re talking about isn’t necessarily romantic. It’s love that stands against hate, allowing for progress, growth, and understanding. It says that it’s ok for you to be you and me to be me. It’s compassionate and accepting and respectful. It sounds pretty basic but it’s hard to find enough of it out in the world. Love is something that yoga helps foster, so it’s not too far-fetched to believe that the spread of yoga will be closely followed by the spread of universal love. Make sure to do your bit.
Featured Yogini: @zeinayoga