27 July 2020

The Joy of Giving

This promises to be somewhat of a self-indulgent post – about the joy of giving something valuable away for free. About money and how it carries so many deep-seated habits, conflicts and confusions around attachment, values and our capacity to be generous.

And maybe a gentle prompt to reconsider your own relationship with money, especially amongst these times of a pandemic when there is a natural tendency to tighten up and hold onto whatever we already have. Where does generosity, a sense of community and sharing come into all of that?; but first

             Thought for the day

     Work is love made visible. 
     And if you cannot work with love, 
     But only with distaste, 
     It is better that you should leave your work 
     And sit at the gate of the temple 
     And take alms from the people who work with joy

                            Khalil Gibran

Not many will know that when I started the work with people affected by cancer way back in 1981, my initial thought was to offer it freely and rely upon donations for it to progress. Truth is I was talked out of this by my first wife and especially Dr Ainslie Meares. Ainslie, that renowned psychiatrist who introduced therapeutic meditation to the Western world, advise me people in the West only value what they pay for.

So that work evolved into a charitable foundation where fee for service was supplemented by a strong fundraising program. For decades we raised about 25 – 30% of the annual turnover of the foundation and used much of this to offset the program fees.

Amidst this there were plenty of examples of people’s relationships to money. Wealthy people who cried poor and insisted upon discounts. Seriously disadvantaged people who gave a little but in a way that what they gave was highly meaningful – and valued. Wealthy people who gave more but relative to their worth was very little and hence not so meaningful.

Experiments with offering programs by donation and regularly receiving around 25% of what would have been the standard fees if it had been a fee for service event.

Fascinating conversations before and after free events…
“How much is the donation?”

A : :There is no set amount, it is up to you…”

“Yes but how much is it?”

Flying Faith Airlines. This is what we called the principle of proceeding with an important new venture when the money for it was not yet to hand. Proceeding with Faith and expecting the money to follow. Getting into financially difficult situations (quite regularly over the years), only to be bailed out by a major gift or bequest.

Significantly for me, never feeling stressed by money. A deep confidence that with the right motivation held by the bulk of our staff, it would all work out well. And it did

But now a new App – Allevi8. To charge or to offer for free?

What a relief. My business partners agree – it has to be offered freely.

Now to be clear, a huge amount of time and money has gone into developing this App. And yes, the 3 of us are in the fortunate situation where we are not dependent upon income from this particular App to keep us alive financially. And yes, we would like to make a profit.

However, there is such a delight in offering it for free.

The joy of giving.

It is such a good feeling not to need to “sell” the product.

We have made it the best we can.

We offer it freely.

If people respond to it, appreciate it and want it to become available to others, then yes, please do pay it forward and contribute.

And notice this.

When something like an Allevi8 is offered freely, it frees you up. There are no barriers. No need to consider “can I afford it?”. “Does this represent value for money?”. “Is it worth $5 a month? $10?”

No, it is simply. Download it. Try it. If it is of no value, no harm done. If you like it and just want to use it for free, no harm done – and please do feel good that other people are making it available for you. If you like it and want to Pay it Forward, no harm done! But maybe a good feeling.

The Joy of Giving

13 July 2020

Allevi8 – the new, free meditation-based App

My heart goes out to everyone confronted by major illness. Stress, anxiety and mental illness can follow a diagnosis. Sleep can be disturbed, emotions challenged. I experienced enough of pain myself; and then how best to heal, how to make sense of it all?

With this in mind, Ruth and I have contributed to a new, free App - Allevi8 - specifically designed to provide meditation-based answers to all these related issues. And in this challenging time of the pandemic, it seems many others may well benefit as well. Allevi8 is easy to locate and download in the Apple and Android App stores; and it is free.

So this week, all the details including news of regular guided meditation practice sessions on Zoom, but first

           Thought for the day

     What lies before us  
     And what lies behind us
     Are small matters
     Compared to what lies within us.

     And when we bring 
     What is within us
     Out into the world
     Miracles happen.

              Henry David Thoreau

There are many meditation Apps around these days. Over the last 10 years I have partnered with my good friend Saurabh Mishra as we worked on various versions ourselves. Safe to say we have learnt heaps amidst a tough IT environment.

A specific App for people in need
What we realize is there are few if any specific Apps designed for people affected by major illness – to be clear, chronic, degenerative diseases like cancer, MS, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's, Alzheimer’s.

Having worked with people affected by these challenging conditions for decades and having seen over and over how much meditation-based practices can alleviate the symptoms that so frequently accompany these conditions, it seemed natural to bring together all we have learnt with Apps to make these specific techniques widely available.

We have been fortunate to gather a great team to make it all possible...

Allevi8 is offered freely
All of us involved with Allevi8 have felt the benefits of these techniques in our personal and professional lives.

Therefore, we are keen to make the practices freely available.

We figure that if like us, people value them (after using them and feeling the benefits) then they may well be inspired to donate a small amount, “Pay it Forward” as it were, keep the App going and help make it possible for the next person to use it freely.

Available in the voices of Ruth and myself 
Ruth and I have recorded specific practices to provide deep relaxation, guided mindfulness, contemplation and meditation, as well as guided imagery.

Five challenging needs addressed 
We have specifically addressed 5 main areas that our research highlighted are the areas of most concern amongst people affected by chronic degenerative disease. They are

1. Stress, anxiety and mental illness; including sleep disturbances.

2. Emotional distress – dealing with difficult emotions

3. Pain management – personal techniques you can use that work

4. Healing – how to use inner resources to foster healing on all levels

5. Meaning – how to make sense of all the changes and challenges major illness brings.

The contents
There is a main meditation practice that is relevant to all 5 domains, and then specific practices for each. While you may be drawn initially to Allevi8 for say pain management or healing, you will have access to all the practices.

Also, there is a self-referencing questionnaire that enables the App to assist you to self-monitor and evaluate your progress.

Those who are already familiar with the work of Ruth and myself will find some familiarity, but there are several practices that have not been readily available before.

You can choose to listen to Ruth’s voice or my own; or vary it around…

The App is designed to be used by those directly affected by major illness, their families and carers, as well as health professionals in this field.

A great deal of care has gone into ensuring the Allevi8 App is easy to use, easy to navigate and of course, that it works well. Happily, early users have provided very positive feedback.

Join us on-line to meditate together
Finally, as a bonus, we plan to commence a weekly virtual meditation group for Allevi8 users via Zoom.

Seems many of us have now experienced how meaningful and supportive it can be to link with like-minded people via some of these amazing new IT functions.

So when you register, you need to provide your email (which of course will be both respected and secured), and from this we will send a Zoom link for these sessions.

Ruth and I will be leading them and we plan some special guests as time flows along.

So please feel free to support this new initiative and try the App. Also, please do share it with friends and people you know who may be in need. It is free…

Available in all good App stores! Simply search for Allevi8.

May your practice flow
And bring substantial and sustainable benefits…