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Freely vs Free

--by Thuy Nguyen (Jan 26, 2015)


Today, after receiving acupuncture during my donation based shift, a patient asked me why I was “giving away” such amazing treatments for free. Don’t you value your skills? She asked. Don’t you want to demand that others value your skills too? Don’t you want them to show you respect by paying you what you are worth? Then she saw my perplexed expression and then added, oh, I see you are trying to fix the world. You are trying to help people in need because they are lacking. That is good of you. She waited for a response but I was speechless. There was so much off in what she said to me that I didn’t know where to start, so instead, I tipped my head slightly as to nod. She smiled, deposited $5 into our money box and left. I’ve been thinking about what she said ever since.

I do what I do and there is no amount of money that anyone could give me to make me feel that it is an adequate match to what I have to offer. Not $5, not $5000. Because what I have to offer is not quantifiable. What I have to offer is myself and it not only reflects in my practice of Chinese Medicine but how I run my business. It is what has evolved over my 16 years of thinking about medicine and health and how I would like to affect and be affected by the world I live in. It is a reflection of my understanding of health and our connections with one another.

My practice reflects my faith in abundance, trust, and connection that is possible in the world that we live in and my faith in the profound healing capabilities of Chinese Medicine. I am taken by its simplicity, its gentleness, its humbleness, its accessibility, its profound depth, its quiet healing. I am heartened (especially in this day and age) to be able provide an environment where 5 complete strangers can lie down side by side to nap, relax and heal together, no strings attached. And I am amazed that day after day, people do come to do just that. That is trust. That is healing.

From this understanding, value and worth take on very different perspectives. It is only because of my understanding of the profound value of what I do that I offer it up freely. Not for free, freely. I am not doing this to fix a broken world or to give to people in need. The world is not broken, what people may or may not need is beyond my comprehension. I am simply doing this because it is the most natural expression of who I’ve become and of who I am.

Thuy Nguyen is a licensed acupuncturist and mother of three wonderful children. Berkeley Community Acupuncture represents a culmination of her love of Chinese medicine, her commitment to family and community, and her desire to effect positive social change. She is a certified Medical Qigong Practitioner and this article is reprinted from her blog. ‚Äč

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12 Previous Reflections:

 
On Jul 18, 2017 Atul Sahu wrote:

What a beautiful article and answer to my quest to know, Who am i and what am I doing. Now i can say that what i am doing is the "most natural expression of who I’ve become and of who I am." Thank you



On Oct 30, 2016 Greg Acuna wrote:

 Beautiful and thought provoking. I'll be enjoying this throughout my day...and hopefully life.



On Jan 30, 2015 Norma wrote:

 Beautifully said.  Thank you for finding the words to express what I have not been able to.  I too like to give freely and my motives have been questioned.  Your well articulated understanding helps me find the words to understand myself.  Thank you again.



On Jan 29, 2015 drjustin wrote:

In my personal philosophy, "free" connotes the law.  What is mandated by 'law' to be free, e.g. food stamp, bus ticket, etc. as mandated by either law or other eligibility criteria.  Whereas, "freely" means availability as needed.     



On Jan 27, 2015 paashi wrote:

 My thoughts , emotion and occasionally action flow freely when the I'm not confined with the give and take practicality of everyday life.  when the heart is un constricted and in a natural state of being part of the wholeness, then the flow of life moves freely towards others.



On Jan 27, 2015 Always Love wrote:

 A beautiful sharing!  I am thankful for your free gift!



On Jan 27, 2015 Deneen wrote:

This is a very powerful reminder.  If only politicians realized the power in giving freely instead of just giving for free.  I read a quote by Jimmy Carter about this the other day about different parties claiming to be Christian based and yet yelling loudly when tax money goes to programs for the needy.  If we all just gave freely without expecting, our world would be a much different place! 



On Jan 27, 2015 Annette wrote:

 I spend two days a month holding hands at a clinic for women/girls who are going through abortions.  I wipe their tears and I love each and every one of them.  They often thank me but it is me who is grateful to them for allowing me to be there to comfort them during this emotional/physical trying time in their lives.  What I get out of this is the pure balance I need in life as I work in retail which has it's own 'sufferings' to deal with. 



On Jan 27, 2015 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

Oh yes!!! I resonate 100% The distinction between freely & free is the liberation one can feel when one views giving as a choice in "freely" and that free does not devalue the worth of what is given. I often give, donate or do Pay What You Will for my Storytelling (and yes it is my full-time work and how I pay my bills). Even though I have lived on what many may consider limited income it has always been enough and I have always had a roof over my head, food in my stomach and kindness shared from others. As Thuy shares, there is a trust that what is needed will somehow be provided. And it works. It is knowing there is abundance in giving/receiving although there are no expectations, just the trust. The practice that helps me stay rooted in abundance is focusing on all those in the world who give from their hearts and a view of love and kindness; seeing those examples over and over again reminds me this is the path. And in my own life I reflect on all those times services were shar  See full.

Oh yes!!! I resonate 100% The distinction between freely & free is the liberation one can feel when one views giving as a choice in "freely" and that free does not devalue the worth of what is given. I often give, donate or do Pay What You Will for my Storytelling (and yes it is my full-time work and how I pay my bills). Even though I have lived on what many may consider limited income it has always been enough and I have always had a roof over my head, food in my stomach and kindness shared from others.
As Thuy shares, there is a trust that what is needed will somehow be provided. And it works. It is knowing there is abundance in giving/receiving although there are no expectations, just the trust.
The practice that helps me stay rooted in abundance is focusing on all those in the world who give from their hearts and a view of love and kindness; seeing those examples over and over again reminds me this is the path. And in my own life I reflect on all those times services were shared freely and what came back around because of it; doors opening to opportunities never expected like performing in Nairobi Kenya (for no money, but was provided housing/food) and that led to a partnership and a book creation with Artfully Aware to break stereotypes. So much good in the world and for the "bad" it is up to each ot us to do what we are able to affect change.
Thank you for another GREAT insight!

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On Jan 26, 2015 Jyoti wrote:

So beautifully expressed. I had a similar exchange at work today when someone I work with made comments that were so far away from how I think and behave - that I was completely dumb-struck. I realized that we approach the world very differently. I paused. I accepted that the interaction was meant to teach me something that I needed to learn. I talked with someone who shared my values. It helped to heal the hurt I felt from being put down for my being. I found the courage to walk the path I was on, even if I had to go alone. I spoke my truth. I thanked the person for their candid feedback and said what I was going to do and why. I know I do not need her acceptance or approval, and I do not need for her to see the world the same way as I do. I am happy to have clarity on my choices, and that is a blessing. It frees me.     



On Jan 25, 2015 david doane wrote:

My understanding is that offering freely is about the giver and means my giving is my choice and what is given is a gift from me for which I expect nothing in return.  Offering for free is about the receiver who has no obligation to pay for what is given.  Who, when, and how much I charge for something that I give is arbitrary.  There are times and people for whom I have chosen to give freely.  We all do some of that, usually giving freely of ourselves in small ways that are important.  What helps me stay rooted in abundance is to remind myself daily that life is a gift, that I have been given very much and that it only makes sense for me to give from what I have been given, that I am part of all that is and thus really own nothing, that the other is me in a way that is beyond my understanding, that giving is natural, that I feel joy in giving and feel better giving than receiving.  I come from a pace of not being very giving, and becoming more giving ove  See full.

My understanding is that offering freely is about the giver and means my giving is my choice and what is given is a gift from me for which I expect nothing in return.  Offering for free is about the receiver who has no obligation to pay for what is given.  Who, when, and how much I charge for something that I give is arbitrary.  There are times and people for whom I have chosen to give freely.  We all do some of that, usually giving freely of ourselves in small ways that are important.  What helps me stay rooted in abundance is to remind myself daily that life is a gift, that I have been given very much and that it only makes sense for me to give from what I have been given, that I am part of all that is and thus really own nothing, that the other is me in a way that is beyond my understanding, that giving is natural, that I feel joy in giving and feel better giving than receiving.  I come from a pace of not being very giving, and becoming more giving over the years has been a more satisfying way to live.

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On Jan 24, 2015 Jagdish P dave wrote:

 Free, freedom and freely are very profound words. Words have power only if they resonate  with our inner being, if they reflect ourselves.I am a teacher and a psychotherapist. To me teaching and psychotherapy are relationships based on authenticity and compassion. They reflect and represent me, my being.My profession is me. When I relate to my students and my clients, i enrich their lives and enrich my life too. It is by giving, we receive as St Francis of Assisi reminds us.Work becomes worship with no conditions attached.I am following my bliss when I work.I am 89 years old and I am not retired. I am still working and following my bliss. When I was 20, I was riding I used a  bicycle to do my work. I am 89. I drive to do my work. The inner joy and satisfaction, the inner abundance have not changed regardless of my age and my bank balance. I am free from self created bondage which lets me blossom and blossom others. Life is a wonderful gift and it becomes more  See full.

 Free, freedom and freely are very profound words. Words have power only if they resonate  with our inner being, if they reflect ourselves.I am a teacher and a psychotherapist. To me teaching and psychotherapy are relationships based on authenticity and compassion. They reflect and represent me, my being.My profession is me. When I relate to my students and my clients, i enrich their lives and enrich my life too. It is by giving, we receive as St Francis of Assisi reminds us.Work becomes worship with no conditions attached.I am following my bliss when I work.I am 89 years old and I am not retired. I am still working and following my bliss. When I was 20, I was riding I used a  bicycle to do my work. I am 89. I drive to do my work. The inner joy and satisfaction, the inner abundance have not changed regardless of my age and my bank balance. I am free from self created bondage which lets me blossom and blossom others. Life is a wonderful gift and it becomes more wonderful by giving freely.

Namaste, my friends.

Jagdish P Dave

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