What is Dana?

by Marcy Reynolds

Except for when I am working for an institution with its own fee schedule, I charge for my qigong services based on a system called "dana" (pronounced "donna").  Dana means generosity and is an ancient Buddhist practice done in Asia. It is a mindfulness practice that works like this...

The person who is offering dana reflects on their life circumstances, goals and priorities and then comes up with an offering to give (in this case an offering of money).  Then after making the offering the person reflects on how they feel. Is there any contraction around the giving? Does it feel like too much --that there won't be enough left to cover other priorities?  Does it feel like too little --a sense of cheating the person to whom the dana was offered? The person who offered dana simply notices these feelings. Then the whole process is repeated the next time an offering is made with any necessary adjustments based on the feelings after the last dana offering. When the right amount is discovered, what remains upon reflection is a sense of joy.

I was inspired to forgo my standard fee schedule and offer the practice of dana to my clients because it had become such a valuable practice for myself, and I wanted others to enjoy the benefits as well. Most people resist this practice at first and would prefer that I just charge a standard fee, but once they practice dana for a little while they really come to appreciate the self-awareness and sense of freedom it brings.