Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous. We experience joy in the actual act of giving something. And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given. ~Gautama Buddha
We all need loving kindness, compassion and generosity. We need it for ourselves, so that our well is full, so we can give to others.
We all know that feeling in our interior life of comparing ourselves to others, and coming up short, we don't have the wealth, beauty, new car or lifestyle that we want. When we are feeling the pinch of our "little self" it is not easy to be generous towards others. Even if outer wealth is not what we want to attain, perhaps our "perfect picture" of our life looks like something else, but we don't have it quite yet.
I remember in my twenties and early thirties, how so many other people seemed to "have a life." Walking down the streets of Santa Barbara, I watched all the good looking, seemingly affluent people busy rushing here and there to this or that appointment. I could feel inside, that I did not have a life filled with dates, destinations, or affluence. Typically in this state of consciousness, we are subsumed in our selves, if we don't find a way to break that inner/outer barrier this can last a lifetime. And it's miserable.
This bewilderment of our inability to actualize can turn bitter inwardly, that the only way we feel better about ourselves is to put other people down. We judge others, and we judge harshly. And it's our new game, and don't we just feel superior? The problem is, this adaptive behavior that makes us feel better about ourselves, becomes habitual. And then we have the record stuck on "repeat" and we think it again, and again and again. It becomes our default emotican, to either put down or with-hold from people. And if we continue this behavior, over-time this can lead to illness. So how do we realize the content of our soul life, how can we grasp these concepts practically and creatively?
If we can imagine that every thought, word and deed creates a "being", this may be a helpful imagination to view negativity in our soul. One of the shamanic journeys I would give to students about this topic...
1. Journey to a Good Deed: Choose a memory of a time that you did something good to someone, (preferably that the person in question did not know about) and journey to the event and see what "being appeared" around the deed. It could be music, colors, a dance, an inner shift felt inside us, a movement, and feelings of joy, a lifting of the heart. Then to come back and write about it in a paragraph and make a creative artistic notation of it.
2. Journey to a Bad Deed: Same premise, pick a memory of an event that you said something hurtful or unkind, betrayed someone, with-held approval or kindness when someone needed it, stole money, hit someone? Journey to event and view or have a "felt sense" of the event. Come back and draw an image, feeling, dance, color, etc. that the event "created as a being."
These two journeys are very powerful and will uncover soul information that might be painful to recognize as ourselves. But it may also bring up feelings (in the Good Deed) journey of friendliness, camaraderie, openness of heart, or a feeling of heart warmth.
We realize that we get to choose our responses to life events, people, and relational business situations, and what we choose will create health or illness. The next step is to ponder our lifetime spent in petty grievances, complaints, and suffering that we have inflicted on others. We get attention from others when we are complaining, as it puts others in the position of trying to make us happy. What a game. People hear the complaints and will try to reassure us, send us good vibes on Facebook, take us to dinner, trying to "make it better," and it's never enough is it?
These are soul qualities, habitual behaviors that we learned to get attention. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this isn't right, that isn't right, it's just not quite right. Our friends and family can become addicted to seeking ways to "make it better." It's just another hook for attention getting. Meanwhile in our bitter-nut-like heart, we can be arrogant and look down on these folks trying to please us, because, sigh, they just aren't doing the "right" thing for us. sigh. We have become Eeyore, get the picture?
And we may begin to wonder why our relationships seem to blow up or fall apart. I was very interested in a situation that I read about in a book about Rudolf Steiner recently. It is about a woman who was having problems with her husband and she was bringing this issue to Steiner.
Around that time (1914-1915), there dwelt in Dornach a young woman who lived in severe conflict with her husband and sought to divorce him. Moved by compassion, Rudolf Steiner helped her out with much kindness and infinite patience. Gradually, the young woman reached a state of inner balance and wrote her husband asking to return to him. However, the man rejected her request, in a cold dismissive tone. She came to Rudolf Steiner with her husband’s letter, in a state of despair.
“Yes,” he said, “You see, that’s only the result of all those reproachful, angry, and hostile letters you wrote him.”
“But, Herr Doctor!”, she exclaimed, “I never sent the letters, but always tore them up! I only wrote them to ease my pain!”
“Yes,” said Steiner, “but his soul received them all.”
This may change our minds about "writing those letters to whomever, that we do not send." Thoughts have strength and power behind them, especially if we have very negative habitual thoughts about someone.
Golden Blooming Throat Chakra Artist: Kristena West
How to drop our practices of getting attention? Go into abstinence, releasement, resignation, drop the repeat of with-holding love or laying down the criticism. Get some help breaking the bad habits; try getting into a group, see a therapist, do inner work, take up dream practice, write a journal, make art about it, and over time this will create a space for yourself to drop the games of power-over, dominance, or with-holding, criticism. Or perhaps you are in relationship to someone like this? Do you find yourself trying frantically to please someone who is "unplease-able." Stop it. Refuse to play this energy game, it will unloosen years of bound-up power or energy that is now free for you to claim for yourself and your destiny. It's like giving yourself a soul-retrieval, and your heart-mind will thank you for it. Become Aware.
Sweet Mouth Medicine Artist: Kristena West
Make some art or buy art that reminds you of your promise to become a Sweet Mouth Medicine Person. When I was working on these issues of anger towards others, I painted Sweet Mouth Medicine, from a dream of seeing a Medicine woman with a Hummingbird fly to her lips. A hummingbird sips the sweetest nectar from the flowers, and is a Sweet Mouth Power Animal or Ally. If I was upset, talking on the phone, suddenly a hummingbird would appear out the window, and I would Stop It. Breath. Remember, and adjust tone and practice letting go. This is creative action alleviates not only my own suffering, but also the suffering that I project on others. It dissolves the "being" of dissatisfaction and lets go. This allows peace to arise, the knots in the stomach to loosen, and the shoulders relax.
The next time negativity arises, try practicing just letting go, breath in the stillness, see-feel a golden lotus flower blooming from the throat chakra, and soften the heart-words. Then we can begin to be generous to others with our giving of loving kindness, support, compassion and encouragement. Generosity creates a beautiful being, and this we are becoming.