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Are You Giving The Gift That Counts?

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Are You Giving The Gift That Counts?

Put A Bow On Your Undivided Attention.
Patricia  Spadaro
Patricia Spadaro More by this author
Dec 10, 2016 at 09:00 AM

Take a moment and think about the times when you felt most happy, joyful, or at peace. Were those moments defined by how much money someone spent on you? Or was it the attention and appreciation you received or the intimacy and connection you experienced that made you feel exuberant? The best gifts aren’t necessarily the biggest or most expensive ones. Better than bigger is the gift of the heart.

One of the most significant gifts we can give in this busy, modern time of ours is our time. With so many issues vying for our attention, we can find ourselves in a constant tug-of-war. How many times have you found yourself trying to talk or listen to those who need you while you are also driving, answering the phone, text messaging, making dinner, watching TV, or sifting through a stack of mail? When that happens, we’re only half there. Yet it’s impossible to give fully to the people in our lives unless we are giving our full attention.

The Unbroken Circle—Learning from Lovers

The sages of East and West understood the importance of focused attention—of being mindful and fully present in the moment. The Christian monastic Basil of Caesarea, for instance, said, “You cannot succeed in loving God or your neighbor . . . if your mind is perpetually distracted.” A famous Zen master put it this way: “When walking, just walk. When sitting, just sit. But above all, don’t wobble!”

Giving your undivided attention is a gift that is both nurturing and healing. It breeds that rare and precious commodity of true intimacy and connectedness. To understand this better, think about how you can tell when two people are deeply in love. As the saying goes, lovers only have eyes for each other. Each one’s gaze is fixed on the beloved—so much so that they don’t notice what is going on around them.

When we are locked in that warm embrace of an unbroken circle of energy, we know that at that moment we are the sole object of our partner’s attention. We feel deeply loved and supported. In reality, a focused, heart-centered connection is an essential ingredient for good relationships in any setting.

Tips for Transformational Giving

The gift of your time and undiluted attention can work magic in any relationship, whether at home, at work, or at play—and it can turn holidays and celebrations into feasts of the heart. Here are three simple and effective tools you can use to create more authentic and intimate connections with anyone as you practice giving wisely, creatively, and from the heart.

  1. Give your full attention. Honor the people in your life by drawing a circle around your conversations with them. Do what it takes to sustain the circuit of energy between you and the person you are with. Simply turning off the TV or your phone and looking into someone’s eyes as you listen or share can transform a situation. It shows that you care enough to be completely present.

    Tip: Look at the most important (or problematical) relationships in your life and ask yourself: What can I do to create a quality, focused connection with the people in my life? What can I stop doing to ensure that I am fully present and engaged in my interactions?
  2. Be creative with your gifts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to be a good giver. It’s your inner gifts, the ones that touch another, heart to heart, that are your most precious offerings.

    Tip: Rather than buying a present at the last minute, think ahead and allow yourself to get inspired. Go into your heart and ask yourself what would really touch the heart of the person you will be giving to. (Hint: If you can’t figure it out, ask them what they would like to receive!) Most important, consider spending quality time with loved ones as a gift. If you have more than one child or sibling in your family, think about giving him or her a one-on-one date just with you. The possibilities are endless.
  3. Ask compassionate questions. It’s not always easy to open your heart and give when the person you are with is like a caged tiger ready to pounce. “What’s wrong with her?” we mutter, instead of realizing that grumbles, complaints, and angry outbursts can be SOS calls for support. People need the gift of your heart the most when they seem to deserve it the least.

    Tip: When someone in your life is pushing your buttons, try to catch yourself before you criticize or ask condescendingly, “What’s the matter with you?” Ask more helpful questions, such as “Why are you hurting and what can I do to help you right now?” You can’t solve others’ problems for them, but you can provide a safe space that invites them to understand what they are feeling and to articulate their needs. Opening your heart and asking compassionate questions honors others and honors your relationship with them. What better gift can you give?
About Author
Patricia  Spadaro
Patricia Spadaro is the internationally known author of Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving and coauthor of other popular works on personal growth and world traditions. She is dedicated to inspiring and empowering others to l Continue reading