Giving and Receiving from the Heart

Posted on December 17, 2014

Remember the joy you feel when you made someone happy. What a privilege it is! What wonderful instant gratification for the giver—and it is one that doesn’t turn sour later on. To the contrary, the more often you do it, the more you will benefit, the happier you will become.

When you ‘make someone happy,’ what actually happens is that you make yourself happy. It doesn’t depend on the other person’s reaction. Even better if they don’t even know you did anything. And yet you can feel it: a lightness comes to your step, a peace to your mind, and a delicious openness to your heart.

It is because when you give to someone you are most truly yourself. You are love. And this love is free, there are no strings attached. It is unconditional and complete.

Too often we call love what is actually a trade-off: I do something for you with the expectation that you’ll give me something in return, a favor later on, your acknowledgement, your appreciation, your love.

That is not the work of love. It’s a tit-for-tat, a bargain, a horse trade. Really, when we look closely, it has nothing to do with love.

That is not to say that there can’t be mutual giving. It’s wonderful when that happens. But if there is a hidden expectation in such giving it’s a problem. It’s a little poison in the gift, a trace of need, of insecurity, of ego, and it can easily turn sour.

But the truth is that when you are most truly you, you are love. You can’t change that, and because of this unalterable fact, whenever you experience your pure love you feel wonderful. That is why the greatest gift you can give yourself is to practice the ability to give freely from your heart.

If you want that gift, here is a little exercise you may find helpful:

  • Every day do three things for someone, without that person finding out that you did it.

That last part is important. What you do may be a small thing, or a big thing, but do it in secrecy. If anyone finds out that you did it, you ‘blew it’ and you need to start all over again and find another three things you can secretly do for someone that day.

  • Don’t let a single day go by without completing the three secret gifts.

I remember how difficult it was for me to do this at first. I couldn’t find three things to do (that sure showed me how self-involved I was) and then it was difficult not to be found out. But slowly I began to notice what I could do: the small daily things that I could leave so easily for someone else to do, and the special expressions of caring which I could hide in the fabric of life.

This took some practice, but one thing came easily: the joy of unconditional giving was instantly noticeable. It made my heart sing every time and it never gets old.

So I invite you to give yourself the gift of unconditional giving. It is what the Dalai Lama calls “enlightened egoism.”

And because what really matters is not physical gifts but the way you give of yourself, you need to start with you. It is your most sacred duty to help yourself to be free of suffering and of pain, because what you are you give to us. You cannot give love if it’s not alive in you.

So this holiday season, make a firm commitment to give yourself the love, practical help, inner peace and harmony you wish for us. Only when you have it can we benefit also. Your inner blossoming will bring you a true appreciation of the undeniable fact that when all is said and done, you are love.

with love,

and the HeartSourcing Yoga Team

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