The Power of Giving and Receiving

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

Maya Angelou

I interact with a wide range of people on a daily basis at my job, and I’ve noticed the tendency of people to shy away from receiving a gift without giving something in return. Sure that’s how stores work, you decide you want something and then have to give money as your form of payment. But its not just when I’m working that I’ve noticed this. I know people who, when offered something, will decline even if they want it because they don’t want to inconvenience the other person (that was me at one time in my life). The following story is just one example of the many times I’ve wanted to give and someone hesitated to receive.

A woman came by asking about a piece of wood from the rainforest called Palo Santo, I taught her what I know about it and by the time I finished explaining, she was enthusiastic about trying it. So she looked at me with the wood in her hand, handed it over to me and said, “I’ll take this one.” We walked over to the back so that I could check her out, and then she asked, “Do you take apple pay?”

“No we only take cash or card,” I responded apologetically. I suggested for her to send it to me personally through apple pay and I would leave the cash. So she excitedly looked for her phone, and realized she left it with her sister (who had walked away from the store). So she went looking for her sister.

While she was gone I began thinking to myself that it would be nice to just give it to her. It’d be easier than having her send it to me, it’s not expensive, and I thought she’d enjoy using it more if she had received it as a gift. Moments later she walked up to me and dissappointedly said, “I can’t find her.”

I responded, “Here you can have it.”

She looked at me in disbelief as if I had told her secrets to the universe that no one on earth has ever heard, and said “No I can’t.”

As I said “Just take it, you can have it, and pay it forward,” her sister walked up to us.

“Here she is, I’ll pay you!”

“No I already said you can have it, so here,” and I handed it over to her.

Now her sister was looking at me in shock and said, “No she can pay you!”

I insisted and she finally accepted and reached out to give me a hug. The look of pure gratitude filled her eyes, and she thanked me whole-heartedly. She walked away and that moment was over, but the joy that I was filled with in that moment lingered throughout the rest of the night.

This is not the first time that I’ve encountered someone recoiling at the thought of receiving a gift with no strings attached. I’ve seen a child of seven or eight, who hardly knows anything about money, hesitate to receive a crystal that she really wanted as a gift (her dad refused to buy it). This was the same, she understood that it was kind. She walked up to me, hugged me and everyone around felt uplifted to watch this interaction. The upliftment was not just a product of witnessing the giving– it was also about witnessing the gratitude that emanated from this child.

Why do we assume that things and money can cause more joy than seeing somebody grateful for that gift? Why have so many people been raised to believe that it’s more acceptable to “humbly” decline the things that they desire–as if it were virtuous to pinch ourselves off from a blessing?

We should be teaching our children that the act of giving does not require reciprocation. The joy comes from the giving itself. This doesn’t mean that we need to be giving more than what we have, or giving when we don’t feel like it. This means that if an opportunity presents itself, if you see that there’s a moment where you feel inspired to give someone something, to offer help, or to do an act of kindness– then do it. A gift that is coming from your heart will never expect something back, not even a response. When I give I don’t expect people to give me hugs or even to appreciate the gift, but it absolutely brings mutual joy when your unconditional gift is received with deep gratitude. The next time someone offers you something, or gives you something, pay attention to what goes on inside. Do you feel worthy of that gift? Open yourself to receive, your joy is your gift back.

Resources:

https://www.azquotes.com/quote/8516

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-s-hand-in-shallow-focus-and-grayscale-photography-167964/

Why Strangers Shouldn’t be Strange

“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”

-William Butler Yeats

Think about how many “strangers” you meet in a day, that you don’t open yourself up to getting to know. How many opportunities to learn and to grow do you think have passed you by?

The store I work at does vending at different fairs and festivals. For a few days I was asked to cover shifts at a well-known fair. In order to get into the event, we had to park off-site (about ten minutes away from the fair). From that parking lot, we fair-goers and employees get onto a bus and get off at our specified stop. This time going, I was the first person to get onto the bus and decided to sit in the very first seat. As I was observing other people getting onto the bus, I saw a very friendly older man walk in and say to the the driver “We’re nearing the end here!” I assumed that he was referring to the fair only having a few days left, so I figured he must be working for the fair like me, I giggled and smiled at him.

Then he walked over and asked if he could sit next to me, and I replied “Yes!”

I asked which part of the fair he worked for and he told me he was actually a volunteer with the Railroad club. He (the president of the club) and the club members go to the fair every year to set up a whole moving railroad city for people to enjoy. He told me all about his schooling when he was younger and how much he’s always enjoyed engineering. We talked about our passions and he told me how his club operates, how it’s funded, and how much work goes into setting up this whole interactive and moving display.

We approached our stop and as we walked up to the entrance together I told him that I’d like to come and see the display before I went into work. I had left home early so I had enough time to go and check it out. He got excited and said, “Okay, yes I’ll put you to work in helping me to turn the trains on!”

As we walked up to the display, we both realized that his partner had gotten there early, and had already turned the trains on. I realized how big the model was (at least 15-20 feet long) and how much work had to go into every tiny detail. From the small little man canoeing in a river, to the cattle grazing in a field, to the multiple trains on several tracks that had to be placed so meticulously so as to not have them colliding with each other, to the men chopping wood, to the water cascading throughout this city, to the big tornado swirling around; just so many ideas all together to create this miniature town! He walked me around with another club member and explained to me that there was nothing there before they began the process, they created the valleys and bridges, added the water flowing, added the flowers and greenery, all of the buildings’ structures, everything, and they had six weeks to do it. It was all originally planned on paper, and then they went to work on creating the physical equivalent.

The fair’s theme for 2019 was “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” so throughout the railroad city, there were elements from the movie. As we walked around to the other side, he and his friend were excited to show me one specific part, it was the part where one of the trains begins going into a barn house right through a tornado, and when it comes out of the other side of the barn, the train is transformed into a multi-colored one that drives through a colorful, magical city, full of rainbows and glitter (The land of Oz). The timing associated with getting that normal train all around the rest of the city to this moment where it goes into a barn to come out of the other side as a magic train just blew my mind, and I was so thrilled because I hadn’t expected it.

Now think about that word timing for a second. I live an hour and a half away from the fair. On this specific day, I woke up when I decided to wake up, got ready in the time I did, had the idea to leave a little early, had to have left my house at the precise moment that I did, and he had to have left from his home at that specific time as well. If we were just minutes off, if I was there only five minutes earlier I would have been on an entirely different bus with different people. Now really let that set in. It really helps you to see that every single manifested moment is not a coincidence, it’s not by fluke. Every person you meet is there because of the choices each of you has made to be put onto each other’s paths and to make it to that moment in time. If you see each moment as such, you’ll understand the power of every single moment.

If I had shut him out, if I had said “No you can’t sit here” If I had assumed that this man had nothing good to offer me, if I had put my earphones in my ears and stared at my phone, if I had not been open to understanding him, to learn about his desires and his passions; that moment would have never happened. We should be seeing each person we come into contact with as an opportunity to learn, as a new opportunity to understand someone and to be able to better understand ourselves in return. Befreind the world and it befriends you. The word stranger should just mean “Someone that I have not yet decided to understand” and not “Someone who I will close myself off too because I know nothing about them and so I am afraid of them.” Strangers are not scary, they are human just like you and I, and they have the capacity to bring much joy into our lives. Even if it’s only for one small moment of time to show you how proud they are of something they’ve spent so much time creating.

How much work has gone into all of the little details of your own life? How many ideas and actions came before the manifestation of the cars you drive, the gas stations you fill your car with and the people working there, or the stop lights that keep everyone from bumping into each other? What about the home you live in and the work that went into it before it actually became a home, a home that began in a place where there was at one point, only dirt, and before it was just dirt, it was only an idea in a person’s mind. How much work has gone into your own physical body, to bring you here to this manifested moment? How does your stomach digest food and use it for energy, where does your food even come from? Suddenly when you look at the world that way, it all becomes a miracle– a “magical city.”

A Life-Changing Abraham Hicks Cruise

“The ship named ‘Solstice’ embarked from Seattle, and as we headed toward Alaska I felt a sense that (like this ship) my life was about to head in a brand new direction.”

My week-long trip to Alaska turned out to be one of the most life-changing and soul-awakening moments that I had experienced up to that point. Deeply and spiritually fulfilling, it was a moment where I truly felt as though I had found my calling for the rest of my life.

Before getting into my experience, I’d like to quickly explain who Esther and Abraham are. Esther is a woman who channels information from a group of non-physical entities who has named themselves “Abraham”. What happens is that she goes into a very relaxed state (a trance), and allows these guides to use her body and voice to speak to the world. Abraham writes books and does workshops in which they have people come up and ask their questions in the “hot-seat”. I had been listening to their teachings for about a year and a half before I had the opportunity to see them in person. This Abraham Hicks cruise in July of 2017 was my first trip far enough from home to require an airplane, and was also my first big trip taken alone.

The ship named “Solstice” embarked from Seattle, and as we headed toward Alaska I felt a sense that (like this ship) my life was about to head in a brand new direction. On the first night of sailing, I had missed the very first Abraham seminar because I wasn’t aware that there was one– I didn’t find out that I had missed it until meeting a woman later in the evening who asked me what I thought of it. Although I initially felt disappointed, I also had a sense that missing the seminar had a deeper purpose, and it did.

The next morning I woke up to a memory of the dream I had about Esther the night before. I explained it to my cabin roommate: I dreamed that Esther and her husband Jerry were moving into my home as I was moving out of it; an orchestration created by the universe to bring us onto each others’ paths.

When I had alone time before the seminar, as I was getting ready I was suddenly hit by a wave of emotions so intense that tears started to flow from my eyes. Music seemed sweeter and I felt a deep sense of oneness, openness, and love. These were not tears of sadness, but more like a physical expression of feeling so much appreciation and understanding being flowed to me and through me. It felt like they (these non-physical beings) were saying to me, “All of the things that have happened in your life were for the purpose of bringing you right here to this very moment, and welcome to the next beautiful part of your life.” Looking back I believe this was an intuition of the coming experience I was about to have at the seminar.

“It was so overwhelming that I felt as though I wanted to peel my physical body off, so that I could fully experience the complete expansiveness of that love. “

Before leaving the cabin, I grabbed some tissues since I had a feeling I’d be crying, and then proceeded to the hall where everyone was going to gather. I began to cry before the workshop started and as her signature song “Joy is the Key” started playing I began sobbing because I felt an immense loving and understanding begin to fill the room. When she walked out, I started to uncontrollably cry because I had never felt so much pure and unconditional love penetrating through me. My body felt like a blockage to experiencing the full amount of love and joy that I could be experiencing. It was so overwhelming that I felt as though I wanted to peel my physical body off, so that I could fully experience the complete expansiveness of that love. The best way I can describe it, is that it was like my body was a battery that had too much energy trying to flow through it that it was on the verge of exploding. When she walked out I lost control of my body and felt like I couldn’t move, like being paralyzed.

In my head I was telling my spirit guides “I want to stand!”

Immediately I heard them (in my head) excitedly respond, “She is not any more special than you, we are just as excited to see you here! You don’t need to stand!” Instead, I heaved my upper body over and bowed in my seat.

Abraham then picked someone that was sitting behind me, to come up to the hot-seat and began to answer her question. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. They were speaking English, but it was like I had completely forgotten language and was just perceiving the meaning behind the words. I think what was happening was that my awareness became much more expansive and less specific in physical time/space. It wasn’t until I relaxed into the moment and really tried to focus more specifically, that I was able to understand the words. Each time that I was able to focus in, Esther’s voice would get much higher and excited. This to me, was confirmation that she was actually channeling information.

I cried for the remainder of this whole workshop (2 hours). Time however, felt timeless. We were there for two hours, but to me it felt like no time. It was like a surrender to the moment, where I was completely just experiencing and fully being in every second.

While we were on a fifteen minute break, the woman sitting next to me commented, “Wow you must be so grateful to be here.”

“I’ve never felt anything like it, that’s not human,” I exclaimed through tears. I meant that I knew for sure that this was an entity that was not Esther’s human consciousness because it felt so lovingly powerful and pure. It felt like non-physical.

I walked out of that first seminar feeling so incredibly fulfilled and open that I walked over to a view of the ocean to sit by myself and watched the water going by for hours, with no sense of boredom–just complete bliss. I had no sense of time, it was just presence. I was in a clear space of pure joy and wanted to savor each moment of it for as long as I possibly could. I believe that an immense shift had happened in my life/awareness. This was only day two of the cruise, and the rest of the journey would prove to be just as beautiful as this beginning.

Meeting Esther Hicks

The days leading up to meeting Esther were full of moments of discovery, new like-minded friends, and beautiful scenery. I had fully enjoyed the journey, and each moment that it had to offer to me.

Throughout the whole cruise I had been writing about my experiences in a journal that all seminar participants had received as a gift from Abraham-Hicks Publications. After the second to last workshop of the cruise, I had the idea to give the journal to her travel team so that they could give it to Esther. That way she would know how much I had enjoyed my time and how grateful I was that she does what she does.

Before walking up to them, I began to talk myself into taking that action. I told myself that,”If I don’t do it now, I’ll never know what could have come from it.” In a leap of faith, I jumped.

I walked up to the workshop team and said, “Can you please give this to Esther to read?”

Her daughter Tracy replied, “Yes, is your name in it?” It wasn’t, so I wrote it in there and went on my way– my heart felt like it wanted to run away from me as I left the journal with her.

The next morning I had an excursion planned to leave the ship, to go into Canada and see the Butchart Gardens/Craigdarroch castle. While walking down the garden paths of Butchart Gardens, I wanted to take my time to appreciate the scenery and to take photos of it, but I felt a really strong pulling to keep walking. It was more like wanting to run down this specific path, that’s how strong this pulling felt– almost an uncomfortable feeling to try fighting it.

While walking towards this path that was pulling to me, I ran into a man that I had met at dinner the night before and stopped him to say, “Hello!”

His lips pulled upward into a grin as he exclaimed, “Esther is over there!”

Without telling him goodbye, my legs moved faster than my mind could talk me out of going, and I swiftly walked over to her. She was surrounded by a big group of people (her family and travel team). I was so excited that I shouted out the first words that my mind could think of.

I yelled “Esther!” and as she walked over to me I smiled and said, “You have my book.” She tilted her head with a curious look, so I clarified, “My journal.”

When she realized what I meant, she said compassionately, “Oh I didn’t read it yet.”

At that point I hadn’t felt disappointed because I knew she must have been too busy to read it or just wanted to enjoy the rest of her trip.

I understood and told her, “Oh its okay!” Then stood there for a moment. I looked around and it sunk in that everyone was staring at me and my stomach dropped. Fear set in because I didn’t know what to do next.

“Do you want it back?” she asked me playfully.

“This next experience was so profound and otherworldly, that it’s like trying to describe what it means to love–I don’t think words can do it justice.”

It’s not possible to describe the feeling of love accurately enough to truly encompass what it feels like to be deeply in the experience of it. This next experience was so profound and otherworldly, that it’s like trying to describe what it means to love–I don’t think words can do it justice.

It felt like my head opened, and like warm water was being slowly poured throughout my whole body, into every cell. It entered through my head and trickled down to my feet. It felt like a really massive, powerful, and loving energy entering my body. My focus seemed to be really pointed, like the whole world around me disappeared and it was just me and her.

As I looked up at her and into her eyes, I saw little specks of light flying around everywhere. Then my hands lifted up and made a really big gesture to her to then say the words, “No, no, no, I want you to read it!” But these words did not feel like they were coming from me, they felt like words coming from my spirit guides. My voice and body were moving in ways that I don’t particularly use them. The fluctuations in my voice were of a much higher pitch, it felt like the words were being pushed out, and I was speaking much louder than I normally do. It felt like I became love, and like information was flooding it’s way into my head so that I had a deep sense of understanding. In my mind I was seeing her reading my journal and was being told, “She’s going to love this part, and this part!” It felt like a really excited and all knowing being who knew what was coming next in all of our lives. I’ve never experienced my mind moving so quickly, or receiving information in such a powerful way.

I felt complete, and like that was all I needed. So my lips began moving and this being said to Esther, “But it was very nice to meet you.”

Then my body turned around and I walked away swiftly after she giggled and said, “It was nice to meet you too!”

For a few hours afterwards there was an enormous buzzing or electric sensation moving through my body, I felt almost disoriented. It was like I had just been shocked by electricity and my body was feeling the after effects of it. To this day I’m not exactly positive of what happened in that moment. I believe that it was me channeling my own group of non-physical beings.

This cruise, with all of it’s beautiful experiences has created lasting impressions on my every day life. It was like a mini journey, symbolic for the journey of life. A journey that can only be taken alone, and one in which you meet the people you’re meant to meet along the way. I believe that that’s the way life is supposed to be/feel. Fully enjoying every single moment, being present in that moment, sucking the joy and the love out of it, and then letting it go once its done. Then moving forward, moment by moment into whichever path feels like its pulling you so hard that you can’t fight with it, and you must go with it.

Photo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/painting-of-a-person-swimming-underwater-822608/

© 2019 Alexis Gonzalez

My First Introduction to Spirituality

“It was like riding in a spaceship being pinned to your seat, going through turbulence, until it finally exits the atmosphere and all becomes still and life becomes weightless– effortless even.

My spiritual journey, as many other teachers have experienced, began with intense asking and (self-created) suffering. This searching for self and the true essence of life was born out of an enormous desire to find meaning and purpose amidst chaos. I do want to emphasize that I don’t see that struggle as something that is of much importance, so I won’t be spending much time going back and elaborating about that aspect. It was just a stepping stone to get me to the understanding that I currently have.

I began this new path (consciously) at the age of nineteen. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that the events I’ve experienced were only meant as a catalyst to bring me into a deeper state of awareness. It was like riding in a spaceship being pinned to your seat, going through turbulence, until it finally exits the atmosphere and all becomes still and life becomes weightless– effortless even.

I grew up in a Christian home, one where religion was not of huge importance until we were experiencing turmoil. It was less of a lifestyle and more like a plea to someone outside of us to fix something that we deemed to be broken or wrong. At that age, I perceived God to be like a father, but not a loving one, more like a father that you had to be on your best behavior around or else he’d tell you you weren’t good enough (send you to hell if you were bad enough). A judge. It was fear based, and there was no teaching (by the people who taught me) of real and actual unconditional love or how to live a life that included happiness. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I was introduced to ideas of how to use my mind in a productive way–how to plant seeds of greater happiness and joy, that would then manifest my outer circumstances.

There’s a quote I’ve heard that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” That really encompasses my journey’s beginning. In 2015 I was more than ready, I was hungry for meaning, and thirsty for joy. I was being pinned to my spaceship seat of life and unexpectedly, about to exit the atmosphere.

There was one man, who sat at the front of our class, that I felt very drawn to throughout the semester. He didn’t speak much but something about him intrigued me. It didn’t occur to me why, until he presented his final presentation.

He stood up in front of our English class and spoke of vibrations, Albert Einstein, energy, and the power of music to heal. He then went on to play his guitar to the class and sing to us, and instructed us all to really pay attention to how music made us feel. Throughout this whole presentation, I had chills shooting through my body as if it were telling me “this is true!”. I left that class feeling the most calm and clear-headed that I had felt in a long time.

My life was about to take me down an unexpected–and fulfilling– journey. I went on to search online about vibration, healing, and miracles. It felt like I’d had a blindfold on my whole life, and someone came and ripped it off to show me what it meant to really see.

Soon after, I came across a woman named Esther Hicks. She became my first introduction to “The Law of Attraction”. To me this was a profound discovery because I was never aware that psychics and channels, or contact with non-physical was a real thing. It made so much sense to me that we (humans) are made of energy and that our thoughts emit vibrations that create our physical circumstances. I had a newfound joy, a burning passion, a desire to understand what lies beyond physical. I wanted to understand what the truth was, about where I originated and if it’s possible to talk to this (non-physical) world.

“Rely not on the teacher/person, but on the teaching. Rely not on the words of the teaching, but on the spirit of the words. Rely not on theory, but on experience. Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

– The Buddha

I believe that no human has the capacity to fully describe non-physical, or God and all of it’s aspects. I don’t claim to know all spiritual truths or even that my truths are actual truths. I can only go based off of how hearing something makes me feel, and the ideas of the Law of Attraction, energy, and the power of the mind to create have become my truths. It feels to me like truth, and it proves itself to me time and time again in my own real life experiences. I encourage you to find your truth, to listen with an open heart, and only take with you the little pieces that resonate, that feel like a truth, to you.

Reference: http://www.boundlessmindzen.org/kalama_sutra%20brief.htm

© 2019 Alexis Gonzalez