the gift of taking

In the previous blog post, Ten Perfect Breaths, we learned about the importance of breathing in yoga and it's meditative effect in the 2nd exercise of Tibetan Heart Yoga. 

The third exercise in Heart Yoga is the one that is the hardest for me to explain and, honestly, the hardest for me to do correctly. First, it requires our immersion in the philosophy of the concept.  Any form of belief, anywhere, involves a willingness to believe.  I always shake my head at people who believe that an aggressive counter-argument against the existence of God means that they have proven God doesn’t exist.  As if the sheer human ability to argue a point negates the universe we are standing in.  

My point is-- this third exercise involves a willingness to have faith in our connectedness.  The Gift of Taking exercise brings us into the headspace of you and I being made of the same materials, a part of the same universe, a part of the same human experience.  We are connected as daughters of the universe; as sons of the ages.  Here in this space is the existence of Karma--if you do good to one, you do good to yourself...and the opposite is also true.  Here is the existence of the Christian texts of being One Body.  

The 1st Book of Corinthians states: “There is one body, but it has many parts; but all it’s many parts make up one body.”  One of the sweetest sounds I know is the sound of children singing, and we have a song in church that sings, “We are One Body, One Body in Christ, and we do not stand alone.”  We do not stand alone--I love that. There is such power in our connectedness. 

So, you have to be willing to believe on this grand, universal level that we are one.  That when “one part suffers, every part suffers with it.  And when one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”  {1Cor 12:26}  

Exercise 3 is called “The Gift of Taking”.  In this exercise you envision someone you know and love who may be in physical or emotional pain.  Or just lost, fearful, or sad.  And you truly attempt to envision sitting in the space of their burden with them.  To feel their pain, to know their burden, and take it from them and release it for them.

There is a whole process on the visualization of that, that I don’t feel confident explaining, because I am a Heart Yoga learner, not a Heart Yoga teacher.  Also,  because I have started sort of smack-dab in the middle of the process and you would need to read about the exercise from the beginning to really honor it’s heritage and it's meaning. 

The reason this exercise is hard for me is that I want to do the Tibetan Heart Yoga version of this process.  I approach the visualization with sincerity, but I constantly veer off into Reiki Healing instead.  And even more than Reiki--I start cutting cords and I veer into Pranic Healing--a process I know very little about, but somehow feel inclined to practice in the moment.  And sometimes?  The visualization works perfectly fine and I am inclined to work within that.  But it depends.  Depends upon the person who comes to my heart and mind.  Depends upon the day.

But, I have come to terms with that.  I do not believe I have permission to alter an ancient process to suit myself--but I do believe I have permission to meet someone where they are and walk them forward.  And some people are heavy of spirit. Some are lighter.  Some have a lot of…”gunk,” for lack of a better term... junking up the works and that needs to be cleared out first.  Their pain isn’t something that can be lifted out of them like smoke.  It’s lodged.  It’s--in an odd way--almost protected by them. 

I do encourage you to research more about the Gift of Taking beyond my meager explanation, which does not do the beauty of it proper justice.  It is similar to when I sell orgone pyramids at the farmer's market.  My customers so frequently wanted an explanation card to give their gift recipients, that I finally started making them.  One woman was so grateful when I started giving them out as well because, as she said, "When you explain it to me it makes perfect sense, but when I explain it to other people it sounds like nonsense!"  

So that is the Gift of Taking.  Taking some of their burden from them and releasing it for them.  Again--my layman’s explanation doesn’t really do it justice, so in order to take this practice seriously, you are going to have to study it for yourself.  

After the Gift of Taking, we conclude the stationary portion of Heart Yoga and move into the motion of more traditional yoga.  Still settling our minds on this person, we shift to the Gift of Giving.  As a cup that is empty needs filling, so we have helped to “empty” them of burden and now fill them with light and virtue.  Those who practice THY will say that the people they meditate upon do feel a shift of spirit. And, while I would not be able to prove that one way or the other, I can speak from my own experience and say that on the mornings that those very close to my life appear before me on the mat, I do notice a shift in their energy when I encounter them.  It feels renewed somehow. Joyful. 

The Exercises 4-9 are gift-giving.  Each exercise begins seated on the floor, legs out straight in front of you.  Palms on the floor to aid in keeping your spine straight.  At each exercise, you say aloud, “I give you the gift of -----.”  Whatever it is.  Then you settle your mind on the gift (and the person) for 5 exhale-inhale breaths.  After meditating for five breaths, then you begin certain yoga sequences.  As you finish the sequence, you come back to the floor.  Seated, legs out straight, palms to the floor.  “I give you the gift of --------”...whatever the next gift is.  

The other day, I was looking for a quote about water, and I came across a quote from Andrew Peterson on the subject of marriage.  But, to me, it seemed to apply to all true, love relationships.  Mothers, daughters, fathers, friends, children.  A musician and an author, Andrew once answered, in response to a question: “Well “I do” are the two most famous last words. The beginning of the end. But to [give] your life for another I've heard is a good place to begin.”

There are specific gifts that go with specific yoga stretches in the final exercises of Tibetan Heart Yoga, and I will explore them in the next blog post in this series.  Until then...I hope you will try this.  I promise it will ground you in giving.  And giving is such a great place to start. 

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