When I was head of curriculum at Kripalu Center I once tried to get Bo Lozoff, founder of the Ashram Prison Project and author of "We're All Doing Time," to come and present at a conference we were hosting. "I'm going to screw things up for you," he said. "I'll come, but it would have to offered by donation."
Though we were an ashram and non-profit, the only model we had was charging for program and services. I looked into how we might accommodate him and, well, we couldn't. It turned out he had a conflict anyway, but I took the opportunity to ask him about how he managed to teach this way.
"These teachings are priceless," he said. "How can you ask a set fee? Everything we offer is by dana - or donation. Sometimes it's tight and scary and sometimes someone will put a check for $3,000.00 in the collection bowl. I'll tell you this, though - we have always gotten by."
I resolved that I might do this ... offer my classes freely and trust that I might be supported.
When I moved to DC I had my opportunity. I offered yoga and meditation classes free with a suggested donation. IMCW's retreats are offered freely. You just pay room and board and make a donation to the teachers.
Initially I was pretty tight about it as I do depend on this income, but mostly, I love the practice. I know there are many who come to classes and retreats who would not be able to if there was a set fee.
My classes and guided meditations are offered freely through my podcast on iTunes. I'm touched when I get an email or a mention of it and recently a most generous person emailed me from California asking if he might help cover the costs of distribution.
I've been blessed with a lot of support and generosity. It's affected how I give. I am now a huge tipper particularly in places like Subway as I'm more sensitive to those who are serving. I am much more inclined to share my small fortune with others.
I really like the feeling of being generous.
So I was surprised and touched by this table card from Panera. How can one not feel positive feelings toward this company and humanity in general?