It’s a dark December morning in Brighton town centre and all is quiet as a mouse.
I suppose everyone is still slumbering after a rambunctious Saturday night of festivities. The garish facades of the shop fronts lining the higgledy-piggledy narrow lanes make me think of a toy town that could miraculously spring to life at any moment.
Nestled amongst these independent shops and cafes is Brighton Buddhist Centre, our destination for the morning.
Here, we are met by a few other early birds, their feathers equally ruffled. We greet each other meekly and gaze about us at the warmly decorated interior of white pillars, bookcases and cherry red walls. Tea is offered and gratefully accepted. The energy soon begins to pick up.
We are invited to congregate in a circle but as there was lots of us it became a kind of circle/square (squircle). The instructor Vidyadasa introduced the concept of Embodied Yoga Principles and our theme for the session: giving and receiving. It couldn’t be more relevant given the time of year.
While a holiday for most people, late December demands a lot from us. It’s a period when we feel inclined to hibernate and recharge our batteries. Yet at the same time, we are enjoined to socialise ostentatiously.
During our workshop, we focussed on finding a balance between introversion and extroversion, between giving the optimal amount and preparing ourselves to receive graciously.
As you may be aware, EYP has specific postures for giving and receiving. These postures can be practised alone, in pairs, or as a group. It was interesting to observe how we all naturally fell into our own, idiosyncratic variations of these postures. For instance, some of us threw our weight forward, which may have revealed a tendency to over-give, whereas others held back.
After experimenting with giving and receiving on our own, we then tried the exercise in pairs, which introduced a relational context between the giver and receiver.
Those of us who volunteered to share our subjective experiences of giving and receiving, reported that, more often than not, we feel more comfortable in giving posture, while receiving feels unfamiliar. A lot of us insisted that we don’t need or want to receive anything from others this year, yet we are happy to give: our presence, demonstrations of affection, or material gifts.
Nevertheless, as our partner work revealed, giving can only be done properly when the receiver is willing to receive. Both acts are active and both are equally valuable.
Towards the end of our physical practice, we resumed a squircle with feet firmly planted and arms outstretched from our hearts towards the middle of the room, presenting our gifts of choice to the world. Our awareness turned outside, to the jostling crowds that had materialised on the streets of Brighton, and beyond…
What will you give to the world in the year to come? And what do you choose to receive?
Vidyadasa leads regular Embodied Yoga Principles sessions at Brighton Buddhist Centre, see Find a Teacher for details of all Embodied Yoga Principles Teachers.
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