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The Law of Generosity

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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When I decided to use my October 30 days of yoga course to raise money for HIV/AIDS projects I had to make a choice.

Would I donate a percentage of the profits. Even a wildly generous percentage, like 75%?

Would I first deduct the costs of running the course and then donate all the profits?

Or would I donate every dollar contributed and cover all the costs of running the course from my own pocket?

Either of the first two options would have made logical sense especially since I’m still recovering financially from the six months I took off from paid work to write my book (which itself came on the back of years working for not-for-profits that pay modest wages).

But something kept prompting me to lay it all on the line.

I have a sticky relationship with money.

I’ve always shied away from asking for too much for myself. In my line of work you can’t help feeling that every dollar that goes into your salary is a dollar that won’t be spent on emergency food supplies or school buildings.

I’ve had trouble feeling comfortable asking for or accepting a salary that actually reflects my professional experience and the value I know I can bring to an organisation or project.

On the other hand, I am financially conservative. I don’t take financial risks. I budget and I save and I pay for everything up front. I’m adept at making a little money go a very long way.

All of which sounds very virtuous.

And yet it’s not.

There is no inherent virtue in any of it.

It’s simply my relationship to money. Conservative. Risk averse. And tinged with more than a little guilt. And it has the potential to get me stuck.

I believe that everything is made up of energy , and that movement and flow are the natural state of energy. Yes, I know how terribly new-agey that sounds, but I suspect even my atheist, physics-loving ex-boyfriend would agree. If I believe this, then it must also be true for money.

Money is made up of energy. The natural state of money, therefore, is to flow.

So getting stuck in guilt, shame or fear around money is just another way to block the flow of energy in my life.

You all with me so far?

Good. Because here’s where it gets very simple.

There is one force I’ve found that cuts through the guilt and the fear and always – always – gets the energy of money flowing again.

It’s the force of generosity.

Deepak Chopra, in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, describes generosity as one of the key spiritual laws. He says:

“…if our only intention is to hold on to our money and hoard it – since it is life energy, we will stop its circulation back into our lives as well….The more you give, the more you will receive, because you will keep the abundance of the universe circulating in your life. In fact, anything that is of value in life only multiplies when given.”

So, I’m giving it all away. I’ve raised almost $18,000 so far (only $2000 to go to meet my goal), and I’m giving it all away. Which, again, might sound very virtuous.

And yet it’s not.

It’s just an experiment in moving towards my fears, rather than away from them.

It’s a practice of making space for more good things to keep flowing my way.

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9 Responses to "The Law of Generosity"

  1. Swirly says:

    All I know is that if it flows through you, it is GOOD.

  2. Emmanuelle says:

    Marianne I have no words, except that I have this strange feeling that you’re writing for me. There will be a tipping point when I stop reading thinking “wow this is so true” and act 🙂

  3. christine says:

    I needed to hear this. I’ve had a rough time economically for a long time…its so hard to not panic. But when I had a job earning a lot of money there was never enough…and now I never suffer…cause I have changed with my relationship to money. Not perfect yet, but I’m gettin ghere.

  4. Emily says:

    I’m totally with you on this idea! I use it for things / relationships everything. If I feel stagnant, I move something along and make room in my life for something else. I’ve only come to this recently, but am finding it feels really good and gives me a quiet, comforting confidence I might otherwise be lacking.

  5. Andi says:

    I am in awe! $18k and you’re giving it all away. Now that is definitely generosity!!!

  6. cath says:

    wahooooo!!! 18,000 already… you’ve done so well. so so well.

  7. LaGitane says:

    Absolutely great statement on money and energy. Brilliant. Let it flow, baby!!

  8. leonie wise says:

    At a conference I went to years ago we did an exercise which totally changed my thinking about money/generosity. All the participants were asked to stand up, find a partner and face them, one with their fists closed. The person with unclosed hands was then asked to give the closed-handed person something. The point being that they couldn’t receive it. Nor could they give anything away because of their closed hands. I really understood that the best way to live is with both hands open… to be able to give and receive. And that by doing one, magically the other also happens.

    And, trying it, finding it to be so very true in my life. In all kinds of ways (not just with money).

    So great that you are almost to your goal amount and happy to support you in this amazing achievement.

  9. Lubna says:

    This is a brave thing to do. I know I would have deducted my tax liabilities arising out of earning this sum and my operating expenses and then donated the balance. But perhaps, after reading this post, I shall be braver. Thanks a ton for being YOU

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