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When a grocery store clerk asks if I’d like help out with my groceries I always politely decline. “I have to unload them by myself when I get home,” I muse, and I push my cart out to the parking lot because, you know, I can do it by myself.

A few months ago I pushed a full cart of groceries out to my car. As I lifted the back hatch of my car I heard a voice, “Here, let me help you with that…”

I turned to see an elderly man, small in stature, already lifting the box of cat litter out of the bottom of my cart. “This one’s heavy,” he said.

He seemed so joyful about unloading my groceries, I didn’t have the heart to refuse his help. And when the groceries were loaded into my car he said, “I’ll take your cart for you. Have a nice day!” and off he went, pushing the empty cart across the parking lot and into the store.

His kind and simple gesture lifted me in the sweetest way. And watching him walk toward the store entrance, pushing my empty grocery cart with a little skip in his step, I know he was lifted too.

When we give we receive, and when we receive we give.

I lead yoga classes at my local community center and a few times a year I purposely incorporate props as a class theme. So many times I’ll invite my students to use blocks for better alignment in lunges, or to use a blanket under their knees for comfort. So many times I see students struggle, too proud to reach for a prop that could provide support; too caught up in the mindset that accepting support is a sign of weakness. (Plus, new yoga students may not know how to use the props, so revisiting this theme is good in that way too.)

When I teach a “props class” we use all the props – blankets, blocks, straps, the wall – whether we think we need them or not. I love witnessing my students “give it up for the props” and enjoying a bit more stability in poses where they once had struggled. Even advanced students feel poses differently when invited to use blocks. It’s a simple class theme and one that always goes over well. In the weeks that follow a “props class,” I’ll notice that my students are more apt to reach for support and then it wanes. And then I’ll remind them again and the cycle continues.

My friends, the next time someone offers to lend a hand – the next time support is offered – may you accept it with a great big open heart. No matter how small the gesture, accept it and then generously express your gratitude. Notice and appreciate how good it feels to not have to do everything all by yourself – whether you think you need the help or not.

No act of kindness is too small. Consider the man who helped with my groceries that day – I’m still lifted by his gesture. Had I dismissed him and refused his help, he would have missed out too.

When we give we receive, and when we receive we give.

Give, receive, repeat.