October, 2005

More Generosity, Your Insights

Your daily practice

You are practicing Intentional Breathing for 15 minutes twice a day. You are drinking 8 glasses of water daily. Your 15 minutes of breathing at least sometimes includes 5 minutes of gratitude and 5 minutes of some other quality of energy you'd like to have in your day. And now you are also practicing generosity in all your relationships and interactions.


A powerful thing. I'm so glad that I insisted on hearing from you. Thanks a lot. I thought we could make a list of suggestions for generosity, for those times when you just can't think of a concrete way to practice it.

The list is looking something like this:

drive generously--let people change lanes, drive the speed limit, play music you like, smile

receive generously--allow others to give to you, appreciate what they give

approach people with an open heart and mind, be gracious

help friends in need

don't spread your stress to others

help animals in need

practice accepting that what you see is what you get in all your relationships, acceptance of people as they are

love the one you're with

distribute beauty randomly and anonymously

meet every moment with your full being

love yourself, love life

share verbal bouquets

say thank you, sincerely

Here's what you've said:

Well Nancy to be curtly honest you stopped me up short with your questions. I have been mired in my work as always--who has time for generosity of spirit? And yet, when you asked those questions I sort of dropped on my knees--not literally--to ask how have I been generous. I look around at the Katrina people and at Pakistan. My mind has been so fixed on me....have I been in any way generous? I am not sure. I don't think so. But I am now thinking and trying to practice one generous act a day. Even if it is as small as saying "thank you" with intention. Honestly, I have not been doing much with this practice so I appreciate being called on it. Thanks.

You are most welcome!

I've really been enjoying the newsletters I've received. I guess I haven't "talked too much" via email, a passive participant. I can work on being more out there.

While it's true that I'm glad I nudged you, I certainly don't want anyone to feel obligated to do something they don't want to do.

The majority of the people who read this newsletter don't write back. Which is fine. I just needed more than I'd received on the issue of generosity, and I sensed that we could benefit from a wider discussion.

Thanks for suggesting generous driving in your newsletter. At first, I couldn't imagine what you meant. But I decided to try it, anyway. I commute to work and back, a 45 minute trip each way. Then I drive for work during the day, going to meetings, getting supplies, and delivering finished product. I spend a lot of time behind the wheel. More and more, I find I am as pushy and aggressive as the next guy. So what did generous driving mean to me? It meant being aware of the traffic around me without needing to control it. It meant letting people in, rather than keeping them out. It meant driving the speed limit and playing music I love. It meant making eye contact with other drivers and smiling. In reality, it meant changing my whole experience of driving. I like it. It really makes my day more pleasant. It takes work, though. I have some bad habits that I easily slip into. But I'm here to tell you, being a generous driver is far superior to being a controlling driver. Thanks for the suggestion, and thanks for the newsletters, and thanks for Breath and Water. You are an important influence in my life.

Thanks for your invaluable Breath and Water messages. They are so timely with all the instability in the world at the moment, on just about every level. I am dealing with thoughts of instability by interrupting them with a mantra: "I create a healthy, stable world." It seems to be working; I return to center and can be in the moment. As for generosity, there are so many ways to share. I believe our thoughts about others are a good starting place. I want to be generous in seeing people's possibilities instead of limitations. In this culture which fosters independence and individuality, I find I have to examine my thinking patterns and remember that there are many ways to share positives and remind myself that I'm part of a world community--by sharing joy, encouragement, "verbal bouquets" (sincere compliments), time, or just a smile--and I am vowing in these challenging times to listen to spirit and that "still, small voice" which gives the nudge toward generosity in small ways. These things seem at least as important as writing checks to charities. Thanks for all you do in the world, Nancy. May you have many blessings this fall. Your email helped me with the generosity piece - mind, heart, spirit, and action. I began to focus on those aspects of generosity. I have a partner at work. We work in an adult ed program, just we two teachers splitting the load and I was getting pissed at his absences, me doing more, etc. at least from my perspective. Then I thought of generosity of mind, heart, spirit, and action and everything changed. It felt so freeing, healing, and generous. I also shifted from a complaining attitude about my job to one of gratitude. It actually is a perfect job for me. Thank you for your email and for the whole breath work exercise and connection.

Isn't it great how when you change, everything changes? As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Every relationship is a dance. When you change your steps, the dance must change.

Practicing generosity of mind, heart, spirit, and action can feel so good and have such beneficial outcomes that it can easily become a way of life.

Just accepting people for who they are is an act of generosity. What you see is what you get. Love the one you're with.

Well. I guess I don't always respond because a) I'm an introvert, b) I think others will fill up your mail box, c) I'm a procrastinator, d) all of the above. Thanks for asking. (Thanks for responding!) As you know, I work in a public service job where I have to meet people's needs all day. I like this a lot, but it gets stressful and sometimes really annoying. I try to practice generosity of spirit on the job, so I can diminish those stressful, annoying times. If I bring stress and annoyance into the situation, that's usually what I get back. When I bring generosity in, I have good interactions with people and people typically respond with grace and gratitude. When I hit a bad time at work, I can stop and breathe in generosity for a few minutes and turn things around. Everybody's happier! A concrete example is trying to manage the computer stations for the public to work. When I am stressed about it, people are usually grumpy with me. When I approach them with generosity and grace, they typically respond very generously. I'm continually struck by the simplicity and power of it. Thank you, Nancy.

Here it is again, when you change others change. Everybody's happier! So simple, and so effective.

This is something I did with my creative writing students, but it also has to do with generosity. I got the idea from an old article I had saved from the Madison, WI paper. An artist there, Sara Kilian, created beautiful artwork on blown eggs and left them out in the world for people to find. Her intention was to do it every day for a year, and she was pretty faithful to that goal. I had my students blow eggs, then we decorated them using pointillism with fine point sharpie markers and a few days later went out walking in the neighborhood and left them where the spirit moved us. I had them write about the experience and it was very moving for some of them. It made me want to do more of this. I love the idea of leaving anonymous gifts of beauty where someone you don’t know will find them, and blown eggs are perfect for this. Maybe I’ll keep at it. Maybe I’ll come up with other ways to do it. Anyway, an idea of generosity. Share it if you like.

That reminds of the bumper sticker, "Commit random acts of kindness and senseless beauty."

Thanks for the reminder. I often don't really notice what is around me. Think of all the beauty I pass by! Being aware of the beauty all around me is an act of generosity to myself.

Generosity opens my heart. Before generosity, I am clenched, wondering or worried, probably selfish, attached--you know. So generosity is opening my heart, letting go, freeing. I could probably think of more, but you get the picture.

Generosity opens our hearts to give, and it can challenge us to open our hearts even more so that we may receive.

When generosity is given without the expectation of "getting something back for it," it is like being in the presence of something holy and miraculous and healing.

I think, from what you all have said, that there is agreement on that. Generosity is holy and miraculous and healing. Again, so simple, and so effective.

Thanks for your insightful letters. Keep them coming.