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Giving presents is what everyone does – especially at this time of year.  Can we be more creative and find other ways to give?

What may come to mind first is giving money.  That’s an easy one to do, if you have it. You don’t have to have a fortune to give money, though.  In some spiritual circles, you’re encouraged to give, even when you don’t think you have it. Giving money can make you feel abundant.

Another one that comes readily to mind is giving time.  This kind of giving can manifest in many different ways.  You could, of course, give your time to help someone with a chore.  Sometimes just showing up and spending time with someone can be a gift.  It might only be your company that makes someone feel less alone.  Other times your presence might support what someone is doing.

Giving time, of course, can be about volunteering.  So often our time is taken up in self-centric activities, such as earning our wages or tending to our surroundings. Volunteering your time, giving it freely for the good of someone else can be very freeing.

Giving can mean handing over some of your possessions to those with less.  Maybe it is a gift you’ve purchased just for someone special. A phone call or letter might touch someone’s heart at just the right time and be a gift.  As I’ve found recently, giving my attention to a project can make a real difference.

An area of giving that doesn’t get talked about much is giving to yourself.  Maybe there’s something you’ve really been needing lately.  If you take the time and the money to go out and get it for yourself, that can be considered giving.  You might just decide to give yourself permission to go after what you want or to be sad because you didn’t get something you wanted.

Giving can happen spontaneously.  It can be so fast you could miss it, if you’re not watching. You could be walking along the street and come across someone who’s dropped their packages, stoop over and help them gather their things. Opening the door for someone who’s struggling. Giving someone space to express their opinions without interrupting or arguing could be a generous gift at times. Others may just need you to give them permission to be who they are or your acceptance for what they’re trying to do.

Perhaps you could give of yourself – something you know, what you’ve learned or what you think.  You could give a recommendation, a referral or a kidney.  I often like to give compliments. Giving encouragement can also be very helpful.  You could give a day off, a free pass, or a leg up.

Whenever you can give something to yourself or someone else, most particularly something of your own, it warms and expands your heart. And strengthens your giving muscle.

One of the rewards I’m getting from this creating space work I’m doing, honing in on what I truly want around me, is that I am limiting my choices.

This may not, at first, sound like a good thing.  We talk a lot about limiting beliefs that keep us from moving forward.  Maybe this is an alternate universe version of that.  Limiting choices make it easier to move forward.

When I want to find something, the places it could be are far fewer, allowing me to put my fingers on exactly what I was looking for in a shorter amount of time.  By the same token, if I have something in my hands that I want to put away, I don’t have to spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out where that might be.  The possibilities, the choices are limited.

Same thing applies to the time that is freed from that. There is so much vying for our time and attention these days: intriguing things to learn, delightful things to do, appealing people to talk to, wonderful movies to watch and broadcasts to listen to, home, loved ones, responsibilities, the news . . .

Sharon Salzberg in her book “A Heart as Wide as the World,” in an essay called, “The Blessing of Presence,” she tells a story about The Dalai Lama.  Upon his departure from a hotel, the entire staff gathered to say goodbye to him.  The point of the essay was how just his presence reminds us all of who we really are.  As she was describing the way he greeted each and every one of them, “The Dalai Lama walked down the line, greeting each person, smiling, looking in their eyes, thanking them for their service,” I realized he was not only being fully attentive to each person.  His choice was to be there, with them.  He wasn’t getting distracted by the ten thousand things.  He wasn’t wondering if he needed to speed things up, or where he had to be next, what he should say to them.  He was just there, thinking about nothing but the person that was in that present moment.

The Master knows well what she chooses.  It’s an odd thing, a strange mathematical formula.  It’s a lot easier when your beliefs are firmly in place, to limit the choices you have to pick from in the moment.  So, If you want to change your belief, if someone is offering you a reason, you can choose between only those two.

If you know what you believe and how that applies to various circumstances you have seen. If you know what you choose in your life without having to take a moment to think.  If your every movement is rooted in your values, you are a Master.  So your attention on the present moment never wavers. Your values and beliefs are there to support you, in knowing, accepting, loving, and being present.  It’s all the Master has to do.

Honing in on what’s really true for you, what you need, what you believe in, helps you in limiting your choices and makes the way through, clearer.  You can then make faster and more effective choices.  The more of these choices you make, the better you get at it.

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