The Healing Spirit of Giving

In a year of uncertainty and restrictions, we may see more clearly than ever what we are most grateful for in life. People everywhere are missing family gatherings, economic security, sense of well-being, and everyday hugs, so the gifts we give and receive this holiday season can have profound impact on both givers and receivers.

“There’s a collective unconscious we tap into, and widespread anxiety can filter everything.” says spiritual wellness provider Dan Marko at Canyon Ranch Lenox, “This is the time to call on your kindness, generosity, and hope. Allow yourself to give with a full heart and receive with gratitude.”

A challenging year
While the pandemic took almost everyone by surprise, Marko says you can come to your own rescue. “We need to remember that this is a temporary situation,” he says. “Call on your inner resources. Even on dark days, you have the potential to be optimistic, to be the one who inspires other people with hope.”

One aspect of sheltering at home is that you can use the time for reflection, Marko says. The “season of giving” is more than a common phrase; it’s an uncommon opportunity. It’s a chance to take care of yourself and others, to begin a healing process.

Giving on a deeper level
If you can’t be with certain friends and family, you can connect on another level. Give gift-giving more meaning and emotional value.

“What does this person really need or want?” Marko says. “It may not be a specific thing this year – it’s more a feeling. How will you connect?”

Think about something personal, Marko says. “A handwritten note along with their favorite cookies shows that you spent time on them and remembered what they like. If you can paint, knit, or make some other special thing, why not? You can send a gift card too – although it’s the one you made that they’ll never forget.”

You can magnify your gift, too, by buying locally. “Independent shops, restaurants, and artists need you,” Marko says. “Let your gift touch as many people as possible.”

Many people are touch-deprived these days, Marko says. Your gift can include that element. “Wrap something the old-fashioned way. Then the person has the fun of anticipation, guessing what’s in there, and unwrapping a special package.”

Give an experience
Marko also suggests giving experiences. Cooking classes, a concert series, or a weekend at Canyon Ranch. “Think of how an experience will enrich somebody’s life. It becomes part of who they are. If you can share the experience, that’s even better.”

Plus, the pleasure extends far beyond the moment of giving and receiving. There’s the excitement of setting a date, making plans, even daydreaming. After months of pandemic restrictions, having something to look forward to has special impact.

“A gift experience grows with time,” says Marko.

Gifts to the world
When you give to charities, the strangers who benefit might never know your name. And that may be the point.

“Anonymity is important,” Marko says. “Giving to those in need is a heart-based offer with nothing attached. There’s a spiritual connection in that act.”

Donations to trustworthy charities make you part of something bigger. It’s how you personally help find medical cures, fight hunger, support the arts, or promote education. When you support a cause that’s close to your heart, it’s a healing gift to you and to the world.

Gifts to you
Allow yourself to receive gifts with grace and mindfulness. Any gift, small or large, tells you that somebody remembered and values you. Stop to appreciate the kindness behind that gesture.

And put yourself on your gift list this year: Connect remotely with people you love, surround yourself with favorite music (dancing encouraged), and seek moments of restorative awe in nature.

“Treat yourself generously,” Marko says. “We’ve all been under stress for months, and maybe not feeling in top form. Think about your best qualities in normal times. That’s still you. You can recapture that anytime.”

Generosity this year is coming back to simplicity, Marko says, with a sense of appreciation that heals and restores you. “It’s about the meaning of what you’re giving, the spiritual connection. That’s what you’ll remember.”

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