The idea of offering something “valuable”–in this case, yoga or bodywork–on a donation-basis is a political decision. For me, it is rooted in my desire to subvert the dominant valuation system that is operative in our country, ie capitalism. It is a radical political act which seeks to support ways of valuing ourselves and each other that do not rely on money. It is a way of encouraging everyone to dig a little deeper, to discern what is truly of value and what something is truly “worth” and then acting accordingly.
It is a decision to value community well-being over my own potential financial gain or economic stability.
It is, without a doubt, a risk to act in this way. As I work to build my own capacity to increase donation-based yoga and bodywork offerings, I worry how this “donation-based” message is received. Are some people thinking, ‘she’s basically “giving away” her services, she must not be skilled or capable enough to attract students based on her own merits…so she has to resort to cheap marketing gimmicks’? Are others thinking that offering these services on a donation-basis encourages a ‘race to the bottom’ for all healing artists, since some of us decide to “give away” that which requires a serious investment of time and energy to acquire?
Without a doubt, some may be thinking these and many other things.
But this choice, while political in nature, is also a spiritual one. I am choosing to embrace and act within a paradigm of abundance. Assuming the best of everyone. Assuming there is enough space (physical, emotional, psychic, spiritual) to accommodate all the healers and those seeking healing. Assuming that those who are open to and desirous of the kind of healing and transformation that yoga can provide will find ways to give back that are significant, first and foremost for themselves. Assuming that something so powerful and liberating will be embraced as meaningful and prioritized accordingly; that the exchange between practitioner and receiver, between teacher and student, will be balanced.
Assuming that all of our liberation is entwined and thus anyone genuinely supporting the work of healing in our community and in our world deserves to be supported, encouraged, lifted up and held.
In short, assuming that what I have to offer is of value to some folks and that they will choose their own meaningful ways to value it. In this way, it is also a spiritual practice for me: choosing to believe in the truth and potency of the Teachings and in my capacity to offer them in meaningful ways. And then detaching from the outcome. Knowing I have something to offer and courageously and consistently offering it even if no one shows up to receive it. (This has never happened, thank the goddess!) This is part of my practice as well: knowing that part my path in life includes sharing these Teachings, and courageously sticking to that path.