Money and meaning

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up
John Holmes

We’re doing a thing – Gift Economy. Currently an experiment, with the intention of opening up opportunities for people who might not usually be able to afford a Tantra workshop.

It’s working pretty well.  We’re separating out what everyone appreciates to be the ‘absolute essentials’ – food and accommodation.  And we’re asking for contributions towards what the team provides – our time throughout the workshop, tuition, one-to-one support during and afterwards, all the behind the scenes organising.
(More about Gift Economy in the event section for select level one introductory workshops)

And it’s had me reflecting…about money and meaning.

You might be reading this and feel a bit of an ‘ouch’.  Because to talk so frankly about money, and the judgements, pressures and choices to be made every time we spend money… it’s a bit of a challenge, isn’t it?

And then to bring that to consciousness, to be clear-sighted and honest for ourselves – that’s the gift.  And it can rock our world.

We talk in Tantra about everything having an energy.  And, we play with that energy in many different forms.  Noticing our constraints, our stuck places, our generosity, our fear, our vulnerability, our wholeheartedness, our expansion.

And, especially when money is involved noticing the meaning we attach.

So someone who has huge savings in the bank can feel like they can’t go on holiday, or buy a new car, because the safety is having the money as actual money!  But life is limited and small.  Spending is scary.

Another person could be struggling to pay the rent and the bills, especially at the moment, and once in a while decides to have a coffee with friends, or go to the pub, because there’s a little bit of wriggle room, and that’ll make them feel good about themselves.  They can create optimism and abundance.

Likewise, giving and receiving can feel very different depending on the meaning of money for each of us.

We all know giving in our lives.  My true belief is that we are all philanthropists in our small (and sometimes big) ways.  We give to the food bank, we donate to our favourite charities, we offer help to friends and family – a lift, a loan, some time.  And that feels good, it feels like we’re doing something significant, something that matters.
Sometimes we give because we feel we ‘should’, because it’s expected.  That doesn’t feel so good, that brings resentment and frustration.  Either way there’s a gift in noticing the energy, our awareness, how it feels.

We know receiving too.  The offer of a coffee and a chat, a friend doing the school run, a colleague saying ‘go early, I’ll cover it’.  Free baby-sitting, paying the bill for dinner, so many possibilities.  And the same gift, in noticing the energy, our awareness, how it feels.  The challenges that come with ‘I should be able to manage for myself’, alongside gratitude and heartfelt appreciation that someone is there for us, ready to help.

So, where does that get us?
Well, here goes….
We’re offering a really amazing gift when we say pay for only food and accommodation! We know we are, we recognise the value of the gift we’re giving.
And we do this from a very deep understanding that for some people that really is the maximum they can afford.
That’s the starting point.
We’re also asking people to make a contribution – to place a conscious value on what they recognise they have gained from the workshop they’ve attended.  And of course the conscious choice about what’s affordable.

Isn’t that amazing? To genuinely feel the energy of the value, and the energy of what you can contribute, and make a choice?  And to feel all that you feel – ‘Is it enough, is it too much?’ ‘What will they think?’ ‘What is everyone else doing?’  And mostly, we hope, to recognise that whatever you do contribute is helping us to do more, to offer more Gift Economy events.
It’s paying it forward.  In a very tangible way.

Notice, witness yourself.  Fully experience the challenges and the blessings.  Bring conscious choice to how to respond to giving and receiving.  Be aware of when it feels good, when it feels really challenging.  Cast light into the shadowy places within yourself about ‘not deserving’,‘everyone expects’, ’I’m supposed to’, ‘what if’.

And it this all feels a bit blunt – that’s an energy too.  I make no apologies because we really want to make this experiment bigger, much bigger.  And we can’t do it for free!  So join us, and together we’ll do something amazing.  We’ll bring Tantra to more people, and one step at a time we’ll change the world.