Last fall, Susan invited me to consider taking on Seva as the Dakshina coordinator for my local meditation center. This means that I am the point person for giving to our center and SYDA, the foundation that supports the global mission.
Now, this made me deeply uncomfortable for several reasons: I tend to avoid sharing about my spiritual path and I tend to avoid talking about money. My urge to spiritual secrecy is relaxing, though I am still uncomfortable talking about it with folks whom I’m not sure will be open-minded and supportive (that is, pretty much anyone outside the community). And as for money, my family lived in a wealthy area, but we had some hard times, and if I can, I hide both the lack and abundance of money reflexively. I think I’m also opening up here, learning to trust and share more.
So, after the usual fear and anxiety responses, I decided it was a perfect assignment to work on my “issues”.
Susan recommended that I work to clarify my own relationship with money, with receiving, and with giving to the center and the foundation. Only once I was more clear should I begin to talk to others about it.
To start, I reflected on several things, how much I’d learned and opened up in the 9 years I’ve been following this path, how grateful I am for the center, the community of other seekers, the chants, the meditation, the retreats and intensives, the Sunday breakfasts, the Thursday programs, the books and the bookstore, doing Seva with others, Darshan.
I also thought about what my financial commitment has been and should be going forward. Of course, I wanted to lead the way and give more, but how much, and how?
It was nearing Christmas and the end of the year, and our mailbox was full of invitations to give to several worthy charities. How could I decide what to do? In my work, I have felt wonderful freedom by forcing myself to prioritize, asking others to prioritize. I came up with the intention to give more without increasing my monthly expenditures. I decided to prioritize my finances, see if there was any money I could free up for Siddha Yoga from other expenses.
I decided that I would give up my YMCA membership. I wasn’t using it, it was costing me $42/month. I could then offer that as Dakshina without changing my monthly outlay. I was excited. I went to the Y and I filled out the form to stop the monthly withdrawal. I submitted the form. And I froze. I didn’t want to give up my Y membership. I really liked working out. I called the Y and canceled my cancellation.
Around the same time, my boss offered to pick up the bill for my cell phone. It made sense, I was using the phone for work, and that freed up over $40/month I was paying. Ah, ease.
I felt cared for and supported by all involved, my boss, the Y, myself, and of course the Guru, inviting me past moments of contraction to giving and receiving with trust and openness. That is what the practice of Dakshina has given me.
Now that I reflect on this story, I still am not using my Y membership. I might have to cancel it again and offer the funds. This Dakshina practice, it is getting addictive.