The essence of giving is not about the most expensive thing, or following somebody’s rules, or creating an Instagram moment.
It’s about recognition, says Honesdale-based counselor and writer Douglas Bill.
“When we take time—spend time listening, learning where someone is coming from—it’s beyond words... There’s something extraordinary.”
The son of a minister and widely traveled, Bill has degrees in Eastern studies and comparative psychology, and a background in yoga and meditation. He and his wife Rise Bill have a counseling practice in Honesdale. His philosophy is infused with Hinduism, “A Course in Miracles,” and decades spent working in mental health.
But lest you think that’s too woo, too weird, or too painful for the holidays, slow down and really listen. There is a message here for all of us.
Today, barriers seem to automatically erupt—between ways of looking at the world, between generations, between God and humanity—but Eastern thinking sees us intimately connected.
In other words, “we are all droplets of water in the same ocean,” Bill said.
So translate that into gift-giving, into something steeped in commercialism and one-upsmanship. Bill suggests reaching out for something deeper.
“Giving is being able to connect with people as they really are,” he said.
To get there, start by spending time in quiet, seeking that unity we share every day.
That will give you the strength and balance to begin really looking at other people, in their complicated selves: sometimes grubby, sometimes glorious.
Then look at your motivations, examine yourself. Often, Bill says, gift-giving can be ruled by fear. Fear that the recipient will think less of us if we give something too small or cheap. Fear that we don’t measure up to what society expects. Fear that our kids will not love us if we don’t get the right present.
But maybe, just maybe, that fear is more about us than about the recipient.
“Look at the beliefs that make up our perspective,” he said. “It’s about coming from one’s heart, being lovingly present and attentive.”
This doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You just need to be there. “In giving from the heart, we are letting go of differences. Listen to what is really being expressed.”
Because “when it comes down to it, the holidays are about love.” And what is more loving than showing up, taking time and giving people our full attention?
Douglas Bill is the author of “Living the Namaste Principle,” He can be contacted through his website, www.livingthenamasteprinciple.com. He also has a radio show, Bodhi Talk, Thursdays at 2 p.m. on WJFF.