Give & Take
THEME: June is a very celebratory month. It's when the peach tree starts to exhibit its juicy gifts. In order for a tree to produce big, sweet fruit, you have to remove some of its offerings. It's a bit painful to pluck off these little budding beauties. However, if you don't, you will end up with a lot of small, hard peaches. The sacrifice is essential. It's a give & take.
CHECK-IN: What would you like to give to the world this month? What is something you would like to take-in from the world this month?
MINDFUL PRACTICE: Body-Mind-Breath: We're going to incorporate this notion in our sitting practice as a way to anchor our mind with Take-(In), Give-(Out) or (Up). Read the options to the group before you start so it’s clear there are different ways to apply this. Have the group try each out, then individuals can decide for themselves what works.
Get in a position with your body that works for you. Do a quick scan to make sure you are not gripping, clenching, holding any tension.
Take-In: As we inhale, say to yourself "Take in Calm" (or "Take in Peace" "Take in Love" "Take in Quiet")
Give Out: As we exhale, say to yourself "Give Out Gratitude" ("Give Out Friendship" "Give Out Acceptance")
Or Give Up: An option as we exhale, is to say "Give up Stress" "Give up Pain" "Give up Fear" "Give up Worry"
You don't have to say the words to the same pace as the breath...that can be hard. Instead, you can inhale - hold while you think "Take in Calm", exhale - hold and think "Give up Stress". Let's try that once.
Or you can front load the inhale with the phrase "Take in Calm." Once the inhale is done, front load the exhale with "Give up Stress." Let's try that one.
You can also think of Give & Take as Generosity & Gratitude - so you can use those two words as well.
Take 5 - 10 minutes to do a Give & Take practice.
SHARE: How was that?
CONSIDER: One great thing about having a fruit tree is giving fruit to others. It gives, you take, then you give and others take, then they might make a pie to share (give) with more people. What an amazing exchange!
Could this same dynamic be said about interactions with people? When somebody gives, it's an act of generosity. It might be giving in a tangible form, or it might be simply a smile or a listening space, a friendship. Don't we often feel the transformation within us when that happens? A spark of appreciation and feel-good? By taking it in fully, paying attention to those little gifts, we grow in gratitude. We are also more inclined to do the same.
When someone gives us a hurtful comment, look, or response we have the option to not take it (accept it). If we take it, how might that end up being given by us to others?
On the contrary, if someone gives us a compliment or positive response we must wholeheartedly take it in, even when we have self-doubt. By not accepting praise, we may prevent an opportunity to keep the positive giving going or we may not feel the gratitude it deserves.
One give & take that is especially challenging to overcome is a negative give & take cycle between two people. Somebody gives you a painful experience, you take it, and then you give an equally painful one right back. They may not have been aware of the initial "give" (assuming it was unintentional), and by taking, they now feel wounded. And they lob one back at you. This becomes very difficult to unfurl.
JOURNAL: Draw a circle in the middle of your page. Inside the circle write or draw a description of something you have in your life that you are very happy about (it can be material, experiential, abstract, whatever).
Draw a larger circle around that one. Consider how you attained what you wrote in the smaller circle. Between the two circles write the names of people that played a role in giving you this "gift," directly or indirectly.
Look at all that came into play for you to have this. Breathe and feel the gratitude. Now consider how many people are impacted by you having this "gift." By taking or accepting this thing that makes you happy, how many others benefit? Write their names around the outside of the larger circle.
CLOSING: Try to notice when you are giving and taking throughout your day. Feel generosity when it happens. Feel appreciation when it is due.