Generosity + Vulnerability


It’s been quite awhile since I posted on the blog. In that lapse, we have moved from Asia-Pacific back to the US, some chapters have been closed, others opened. Life is an ever unfolding story that each day, I find gratitude in…highs and lows alike. I’m teaching children much less , and adults more. It’s been an interesting, trying, and ultimately rewarding shift in the professional world my passion (yoga/offering healing through self capability) is rooted.

This morning my mind was smacked so hard by the idea of the receptiveness of generosity that stopping what I was doing and getting these thoughts down seemed the only logical option.

Brene Brown is THE authority in the present on vulnerability. After watching her TED talks and listening to Daring Greatly, my perspetive is constantly seeking ways to approach life in a more open and receptive way, with less judgement, more acceptance, less assumption, more watching the development. Brene believes that vulnerability is th root to meaningful connection, And what constitutes meaningful connections…whether they be a fleeting moment or a lifelong kinship.

While catching up with the facebook feed this morning, I scrolled past a friend who, at one point in time I’d tried to offer generosity to. It wasn’t a handout or a leg up, just a ‘treat yo’self’ gesture that was met with much skepticism and fear/concern. (Am I REALLY that scary or underhanded?) Unfortunately, it couldn’t be done anonymously and while it was carried out, it cut a little to think that someone who didn’t NEED anything but might enjoy a little “just because” was so distrusting of another’s motives. That in turn reminds me of something one of my teachers (and boss) shared during a Yoga for Healing Trauma workshop…your offering is a GIFT (whatever that offering may be), and you absolutely must give it with NO EXPECTATIONS of how it might be received, used, or thanked.

Recently, our 12 year old son came to work with me to attend one of my classes and, with an hour to kill, went to Starbucks. On his way back he encountered a homeless person (not much exposure in Japan so this was new to him), and when asked for change, he gave the man a $5 and went along his merry, privileged way. We talked about that and my mind and heart were torn between “mom fear” and pride that was generous and gave someone a little something he didn’t himself need. We ALSO discussed how it might be more prudent to simply buy said person a coffee or a sandwich then to hand him cash.

In reflecting on both of these situations, which are, admittedly just a very small sampling of the population, the result that pops up is why it is much easier for those who have the least, to be the most gracious in accepting even the smallest of gestures? It all boils down to comfort in vulnerability. The more we have (or want people to THINK we have), the more we become attached to those things and those perceptions…so concerned with how others view, or rank us in the big scheme. Those who have lost it all, well simply put they’re stripped down t0 living for their basic needs. Their sense of what is a need vice what is a want is often much clearer than those who live among abundance (of things, not necessarily abundant life). Not only does it appear (to my eye) , those who have less have less pride standing in the way of asking for help, but they are also much quicker to show gratitude AND pass it along. It’s not “just a quarter”…it’s that much closer to their next meal. When you’ve lost it all, perspective shifts.

There’s a person I’ve had several opportunities to discuss healing, seeking, need vs. want with a lot recently. When that person shares their perspective, it resonates so deeply with my own soul because we often feel, search, and stumble in similar ways. We are both in a place of serving others to find our way back to our core…where our gifts lie, learning to follow our intuition and speak our truth, stripped down, unedited, not being bound by the script of society. This is not meant to be an absolute generalization as it always takes all kinds to make the world go round.

Have you seen the same pattern? That the have more’s seem more skeptical and less receptive than the have less’s? Have you felt that the have less’s more often express greater gratitude with less expectation? Or has something shifted your perceptions in a different direction? Would love to hear thoughts on this. And how can we, as a collective society independent of income, status, or station in life, can be more vulnerable, find more gratitude and service?

May YOUR connections be meaningful and impactful!

PS-I chose this particular image because it speaks to my vulnerability. I’m not a fan of asking for help, I don’t take compliments easily, and often when I stumble on my words or expressions of gratitude, it can come across quite ungracious. We ALL have work to do! Our 12 year old loves to slackline. When my first try came around, my legs were shaking like a leaf and I was a little too dramatic in expressing my fear of falling. That child offered me a shoulder to lean on, to find my balance, explore my edge, and, eventually, take a step forward on my own. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: allow yourself to become vulnerable, be gracious in whatever is offered to you.