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By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.

We are the healthiest when we are in a continuous flow of giving and receiving. Unselfish giving is our true nature, and this consciously connects us with the divine, which is always giving. Acknowledging all of the goodness that we have inside of ourselves, and perceiving goodness in others, fosters feelings of fellowship and unity rather than adversity and separation. This deeper perception of life generates positive energy for all aspects of our journey, and reinforces feelings of fulfillment regardless of outward circumstances.

Abundant blessings and lessons visit us in daily life to tempt us toward growth and enlightenment. When we are relaxed and open, we are more likely to notice the messages of the present moment and meet them with fresh, creative energy. Inspiration is remembering the spirit within us and others. We are a creation, and we are meant to receive, create and give from the eternal source of love. Being open to life means that we have the faith to make positive use of all that life gives us.

Increasing our capacity to give is the most worthwhile practice in our personal development. The best gifts come from the pure and simple goodness of our heart. Whether loved ones or strangers, we can give compassion, kindness, sincerity and sensitivity. We can cultivate deeper value for all that is given to us, from our own body, mind and spirit, as well as from our environment and others on this earth. As we mature in our practice of giving, we develop greater discernment for the gifts that best match specific situations and people.

Sometimes the perfect gift is listening, and sometimes it is active assistance. We might give patience or encouragement, a playful or a peaceful response depending on circumstances. Some people need a prayer and others a warm embrace. We can give hope or humor, a tender touch or an open mind. We have gifts of clarity and curiosity, attention and appreciation to give. Giving joy, respect, smiles and love opens and enriches hearts. Acceptance, understanding and forgiveness are healing gifts for both the giver and receiver. We can add gifts from our creative and practical talents, or ideas that facilitate others’ well being.

We also give to others through our example. Those who see us, interact with us, or know us, receive the energy of our thoughts and feelings, as well as outward behavior and communication. And where there is discrepancy, the inner energies dominate over the outer. Identifying, healing and transforming personal negative energy into healthy, positive energy, generates feelings of goodness, that automatically extend to others’ hearts, minds and bodies.

We can develop regular practices of nurturing, valuing and protecting the earth and the plants and animals that live here. Cultivating a relationship of caring, considerate stewardship for our environment, promotes peace and goodwill, for a planet that gives so freely of its resources for our survival. The earth and all of its elements and inhabitants are interconnected into a huge web of life. Every aspect affects the whole. How we treat the vulnerable, damaged, disowned and impoverished beings and aspects of life, either strengthens or diminishes our personal and global goodness. Witholding what was created within us to give, produces tension and discord. Being gracious and generous in our offerings to life generates ease and harmony. There is no higher calling than to be of service.

Whatever we give, carries the energy of our motivation, and the level of our integrity and spiritual development. When we give solely from a sense of duty or obligation, or to feel superior, or control or receive something from others, we are offering our own defects of character rather than goodness. To illustrate this from a different metaphor, if we listen to a musician playing mechanically, or with feelings of arrogance, or focussed on winning a prize or controlling someone, we do not feel elevated listening to this gift of music. Alternatively, when we listen to a musician absorbed and uplifted by the passionate joy of each note of the melody, we accompany the player into this higher state of glory and goodness. We join together in true giving. We remain apart and empty when we are selfish. We are meant to play and share the music of life from our heart and soul. We are meant to remember and rekindle goodness and extend a sense of heartfelt hospitality to the earth and its inhabitants. This expresses the divinity within us, which is our true self.

WWW.MARYCOOKMA.COM Mary Cook has a Master’s degree in psychology and is a registered addiction specialist, with 33 years of clinical practice and 29 years of University teaching experience. She is a writer, a national speaker, and has a private practice in San Pedro, CA. Mary is available for telephone and office counseling, consulting, guided meditation, speaking engagements and in-service training. Her book “Grace Lost and Found” will be published early spring 2010. Please see website for further information. Contact her at 310-517-0825.

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