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Doing Service

Focusing on helping others is a wonderful way of doing service in a community. Participating in supporting another soul can be a life changing experience as we step out of our own story and share ourselves with someone in need. It truly is a gift that returns two-fold back to the giver.

Boundaries are also important – to know when to step forward in service and when to hold back to replenish.

Years ago, when I attended a conference in California, Lisa Nichols, a renowned motivational speaker, demonstrated the power of self-care with authenticity. She held in one hand a tea cup and saucer. In the other hand she held a pitcher of water and began to pour water into the tea cup. As she poured she explained at a pause, this water represents our essence, our energy, our life force. The teacup is half full. Is it enough to offer service to others? The audience said a collective no.

She began pouring again and filled the teacup to the brim. She asked again, is it enough to offer service to others? The audience collectively said yes, the teacup is full. She said Nooooo.

She continued to pour water into the tea cup which was overflowing collecting in the saucer and eventually overflowing onto the rug. She stopped and said this overflow is the essence of you that you use to do service. The overflow. I was surprised.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • That was a lovely image and it makes sense to me. One has to be whole and full in order to help. I will carry that with me

  • That was not the way I learned it growing up. I didn’t even know about the overflow. I was taught to give at a 1/4 cup full. And to always think of others first. I had to learn self-care. Now when I give, it's from a place of joy. If you don’t replenish, giving is not from joy

  • I was labeled selfish when I thought of myself.

  • This was a great meditation. There are lots of things going on in the world. I’m hearing the “should”. That I’m being selfish not out there saving the world. This community keeps me on track. During the meditation, I could hear noises from my speakers that sounded like crickets. I imagined us outside. I need this group, to be brought back to ground.

  • Having trouble with that. Yesterday, I was consumed by a feeling of despair. In our church yesterday, someone was conflicted regarding wanting to protest but afraid of the risk of getting covid-19. I believe we are in a time of revolutionary change. Issues that have been swept under the rug too long are bubbling out. Someone even suggested that covid is due to our impact on nature. It’s all tied together. It is important to take care of self, but I’m trying to help humanity. I’m reminded of my grandmother’s admonition to “always keep your balance.”

  • Brene Brown is a social worker and researcher who has many things to say about shame and vulnerability. Here is a blog post and her TED talk.

  • As you spoke, I was sure the full cup was enough, but no, it’s in the overflow. I stopped drinking in 1988 and started my recovery. I had resistance from my parents, and then from others who said I shouldn't focus on my healing. I learned to fill up my cup and even I had resistance to that. I was taught it is selfish to do for ourselves. My strength now is in filling up my cup and not fixing others

  • Thank you for the cup image. I like Brene Brown. I am mired in my own drama. Usually I am very private. I’ve been reaching out. My mom came to help me and she reminded me that there is alcohol abuse in my family. I stopped drinking last year. I didn’t think I had a problem, I drank with my husband. He is not nice when drinking. My mother and I watched “Days of Wine and Roses." When one breaks a habit, the agreement between the two people is broken and it causes problems. My mom is helping.

  • I had an insight. I thought I've been reaching out to daughter with love and support. But I now realize I’ve been reaching out with love and worry. I have to uncouple that.

  • It’s hard to sit back and trust

  • This is my 30th year of sobriety. I don’t talk about it much. On my 10th anniversary, a friend called and said he had a problem with alcohol. I took him to a meeting that night. Every year since, it’s called me to acknowledge me as his ‘Eskimo’ because I brought him in from the cold. In this meditation circle, I am reminded to live life one day at a time, to trust my higher power and to not try to control the things I cannot. Thank you to all of you for being teachers and sharing the wisdom of your teachers.

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