Recently, I went through a pretty bad phase. Things were breaking down (cars. computers, phone), accidents were happening (to me, to Eddy, to my car), I was more susceptible to physical injury and illness, and ghosts from the past came to haunt me legally.
I had thought that it was just some form of ‘attack’ or bad energy I was attracting. I was meditating, praying and sending reiki to myself on a daily basis. I wasn’t sure what else I needed to do.
While talking to a friend, she suggested I give a donation somewhere. And there was a lightbulb moment for me! For many years, I had contributed back: first, with teaching yoga at the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB), then teaching yoga to girls from troubled homes and also refugee kids and women.
I also helped now and then with the Furry Friends Farm with fundraisers. Then everything stopped. Truth to tell, I kind of realised this on a subconscious level and I reached out to see if I could teach again with the MAB but their hours didn’t fit my schedule anymore.
I made an immediate donation to the Furry Friends Farm and I felt better. I spent some time reflecting on this, because I didn’t want to just start donating and volunteering to get myself out of the pit I was in. So here’s a few things that I came up with:
Movement of energy.
Okay, while I know many people may consider all these “non-concrete” or “airy-fairy” reasons, I feel this is the most important one. Personally, I don’t feel any donation or volunteer work is 100% altruistic, we always get something back from what we do, no matter how hard we may want to deny it.
In my case, I realised that I was on the receiving end with all the energy remaining with me and stagnating there. I wasn’t allowing a circle of energy (or ventilation – whatever you may want to call it) to take place when I stopped doing my last bit of community work.
Personally, I have always preferred giving my time rather than my money (which in the modern day and age amounts to the same thing), but there is something so fulfilling to see people grow with your help. That wasn’t happening anymore because all the work I did had an energy exchange.
We need to allow the energy to come to us and flow out again. Giving is one way of doing this.
Develop and grow.
Both community work I did as a yoga teacher really helped me in my vocation. Teaching yoga to the blind was really a challenge because (1) they didn’t speak English so well and (2) they are visually challenged.
The first and second meant my verbal cueing had to be en pointe! And not just in English, but also in Bahasa Malaysia (since I cannot speak any type of Chinese dialect). The second point meant I needed to be good in physical adjustments.
During this time, I was practising Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga a lot, and I took notice of how the teacher adjusted students, not just to myself but to everyone around me. In fact, I took notice of how any teacher made adjustments to any student in any class.
It was at this time that I really began to adjust students while in the poses. I also saw how the visually-impaired learned a pose. For more difficult poses, I would choose one of them who I knew could do the pose (say, bakasana) and put them in the pose.
He or she would do their best to hold the yoga pose as long as they could while the others came over and felt and touched his / her body. Then they would go back to their respective spots and try the pose. Amazing!
And I would never have up-skilled myself if I had never volunteered to teach at the MAB!
Know I am needed.
I never realised how much value I could give to someone until I began teaching at the shelter for girls from troubled homes, and later on in the shelter for refugee kids. All of them had very little exposure to male role models, and most of them had very little discipline.
Truly, I went to those shelters thinking I would be dealing with bruised and cowed young things, and yes they were bruised (emotionally, I don’t know about physically, but I am sure some were) but they were definitely not cowed. The very first day I arrived, they were jumping from mat to mat, really loud, really screechy and boy, did I have to instil discipline!
Even then, they loved me and missed me, no matter how many times I had to put my foot down or sometimes just leave the class and drive home.
Watching those girls grow up into elegant young ladies, and seeing some of those refugee kids being successfully integrated into foster homes in the USA on Facebook is so incredibly fulfilling. And no matter what, I know they have some love for me and in this sense I have been a father-figure to them, even if just for awhile.
Gain new perspective.
I have already written above new perspectives and insights that I gained from this volunteer work. And there are so many details that I just cannot write down in just one blog post, including my visit to the Furry Friends Farm itself. That was an amazing experience.
Just give back.
So, just give back, whether it’s time or money or both. It is such a rewarding, enriching and incredible experience, and I am so grateful for all the opportunities that have come way for this.
Tell me how you give back in the comments below! I would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts about giving back!