The Art of Giving Freely

Usually at this time of year I write about New Year’s Resolutions. This year I thought I’d do something else. I was reading a translation of the yoga sutras and this morning’s discussion centered on giving without obligation. Giving freely.

As I finished my practice I began thinking about how one might give freely to themselves. How can I give to me without obligations? As this idea continued to grow in my brain I began thinking of how this concept could be applied to my fitness, my exercise, my free time, my family, my friends, and so on.

What if I gave myself freely to my exercise? This means no “I worked out today so I get to eat anything I want” no push – pull with my body and its shape, no deals made with myself regarding what I will get for “making” myself workout.

What if I just exercised because it feels better when I do? What if instead of bargaining the time so I can “make myself do it” I just enjoyed moving? What if I let go of all the numbers – my weight, how much I lift, how many minutes “I should” continue and just did what felt good for that day at that time? I know some of you are wondering how in the hell would I reach my goals or get clients to workout if there wasn’t some carrot at the end of a stick. I wonder, too and I am open to the possibilities it presents. We’ll have to see how it unfolds.

In the Sutra the focus was on giving for the sake of giving. Not for greed or expectation of something in return. It was giving for the goodness of it. Were you able to practice this over the holiday season with friends and family or were your gifts tied to invisible strings you’ll pull in someday? Interesting idea to give and not expect. Be honest with yourself and notice who you gave freely to and who you didn’t. Then take the next step and let go of your expectation of return and favors tied to your invisible strings.

The art of giving is really a selfish act. We feel better when we give freely and aren’t all tangled in those invisible strings – both those we have given and those we’ve received. Isn’t it time to be free?

Creating Freedom

Ahhh, 4th of July is upon us. The time to celebrate our collective freedom, and I find it fitting to celebrate personal aspects of freedom as well. We are a lucky nation. Although, some would argue freedom is relative, I think today is a fitting day to celebrate your freedom. So as you sit by the water, cabin, backyard kiddie pool raising nothing more than your glass celebrate your freedom.

As our favorite weekend for lounging progresses use this time to let go and create your own personal freedom. First, think about the goals you have been reaching for. Are there any that have become stagnant and out dated? Get rid of them – free up your focus. Are your goals really reflecting where you want to go and who you want to be? If not, lose them with the next drop of condensation as it drips off your glass. Free up your conscience. Do you feel guilty about your progress, direction, sacrifices, or another idea surrounding your personal change? In my opinion guilt is useless, so chuck it, and begin to free up your shoulders, the place many of us hold tension and guilt.

As your shoulders loosen roll them back a few times and then forward a few, follow that with some shrugs, and finally roll them up, back, and down into their natural alignment. As you do this you’ll open up your chest and free your breath. Take a deep breath. Feel your chest expand and your body respond as the oxygen penetrates your cells and you activate your relaxation response. Free up your mind and let go of all those thoughts that keep repeating in your head. Let go of worry and anxiety; just be. Today is all about just being. Relax and let go of all shoulds and coulds and free up your schedule. Feel your skin relax and rest as you free your body and allow space for all parts of you to relax in kind. Don’t worry about places you would like to change or see differently in the mirror, toss the ideal and free your expectations. Accept who you are today for all your greatness.

Freedom, it rolls off your tongue nice and even. Bask in the ease of the word and let it become your motto for the day. Do not get caught in the mind game of how difficult it is to let go of those thought patterns and pre-conceived notions, those pesky ideals of who and how you should be. Today allow yourself the pleasure of being just as you are, today, in this moment, without shoulds, coulds; have-tos. Keep the thoughts flowing through your head and make it clear they are not welcome to linger and sour your day of wonderful, sweet freedom bliss.