2.15 The Yoga of Fundraising

In the Yoga Sutras, there are five roots of suffering: (1) ignorance – forgetting that we are rooted in source; (2) ego – a feeling of separateness, the amplification of the “I;” (3) greed – craving a desired result in the future; (4) aversion – recoiling or repulsion; and (5) fear.

These are the mind-states that obscure our capacity to see clearly. And they are the source of dissatisfaction. You can probably see how each of these manifest in your fundraising work.

A commitment to an inner or spiritual path is what enables us to lessen these states and to live in increasing states of freedom. With awareness, the light of consciousness shines on these hindrances so we can see them.

Recall a moment in the past week or month that held some significant level of discomfort for you. Maybe a seemingly certain grant proposal was denied, or a major donor informed you they were turning their attention and resources elsewhere.

See how much of the experience you can recall. Check in with the senses – what was visible, what you hear, how did you feel. Go a little more deeply into the memory if you can. What exactly was hard? Did the event trigger an older hurt? Did it provoke a sense of confusion? Can you notice where in the body this particular experience impacts you?

We all develop patterns based on our cultural legacies, familial histories, personal experience and more. When discomfort arises, it’s a great opportunity to observe our conditioning. Do you experience a fundraising setback as rejection? Does it increase anxiety about the overall health of your organization? Does it tap into old distress or fear from your childhood, perhaps related to money? Does anger arise?

Now, try to remember what you did when this discomfort hit you. Did you notice it? Did you react? Did you distract yourself? Or did you take a moment to let the news sink in? Turn to someone for support?

Unhelpful patterns are weakened over time through exposure, awareness and compassion. Instead of distracting ourselves from difficult feelings or sensations, we can decide to stay with the experience, and that begins most easily with the breath. If we start simply by paying attention to the breath, it can relax the body and that might illuminate what we’re feeling. We can decide to allow the experience and to notice it as it unfolds, rather than trying to control it.

Slowly, new habits replace and transform the old. Over time, skillful reponses grow in energy and presence, gaining a stronger foothold within. As this goodness continues to manifest, we find ourselves more grounded in awareness, a place of readiness and openness.

3 Comments to 2.15 The Yoga of Fundraising

  1. Addie's Gravatar Addie
    March 9, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    This is great! I’m a nonprofit fundraiser and part-time yoga teacher and I often think about how these two worlds intersect. Sometimes the high-pressure environment of fundraising seems completely antithetical to the lessons of yoga…but other times, the attitudes toward how we relate to others (our donors, those we serve, yoga students) seems incredibly apt. I would love to see more blog posts with your insights on yoga and fundraising! _/|_

  2. March 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Addie – and others! You might enjoy our “Yoga of Social Change” retreat. More info on the website, http://www.stonecircles.org. And thanks for your comments. I knew the yoga piece would hit folks in all different ways so I’m glad it resonated.

    • Addie's Gravatar Addie
      March 9, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Very cool! Thanks, I will check out the link.

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