New Project – Encouraging Giving

I have a new project – I will be working to improve the earth’s energy in the places people live and work. I am quite excited about it. I have had some amazing experiences in my travels recently which have greatly enhanced my ability to do this type of work, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Following on from my recent blog post here, I am going to take the opportunity to try out some different ways to encourage suitable giving on the part of the recipients of this service. I now realize how important this is, as if the recipient does not give appropriately (according to their means) to show suitable respect and appreciation for what they have received, in order for the universe to remain in balance they also do not receive the benefit of what they receive. So by not creating conditions where the recipient is inclined to give appropriately, they are actually being denied the benefit…

Figuring out how to do this in different situations is going to take some getting my head around, but I now feel it is very important. Previously I just thought it was unfortunate for me when some people did not reciprocate appropriately, but I now realize it is actually mainly bad for them.

Earth smallWorking with the earth’s energy is actually one of the things that has given me a lot more insight about this.  What I do with the earth’s energy is a truly rare skill. Recently I did some work to substantially improve the energy flow on a property. I did all the preparation and got everything ready to make the energy in this place amazingly vibrant and beneficial to the occupants.  But at the last stage I was stopped from completing it.  Something just would not let me complete the work – because I knew that the occupant was not going to appreciate and respect the work that had been done… I would have liked to finish the work for my own satisfaction, but I was prevented from doing so.

switch-41684_960_720So it is sitting there all ready to go, kind of like a house all wired up for electricity, but with the switch connecting it to the main powerline in the off position. Perhaps if things change in the attitude of the owner of that property in the future the switch will be able to be flipped on.  I hope so.

So anyway, what is this GFRF method I will be using for this project? Essentially I will be framing expectations of how much someone should expect to give in return for what they receive – but in the end it will still be up to them. There will also be a minimum payment required at the start, which is for their good to ensure that they get the benefit of the service, otherwise it is a waste of both their and my time.  This minimum payment, and in fact the comments about the expectations of what is suitable is expressed as a % of the value of the property being worked on. This gets around one of the issues of setting price vs GFRF, as this does not respond to the level of resources someone has, it excluded those without enough resources, and may not encourage those with a lot of resources from giving enough relative to their means. As the amount is expressed as a percentage of the property value, and the person owns the property, by definition it should fit the level of resources that they have.

I’m excited to both be doing this works, and also to try this new twist on GFRF. If you would like to read more about it you can visit the site that I have created for this service:

I highly recommend it as it is something that can make a big difference to your wellbeing.

Universal Law – Learning From Bad Experiences

I am on my way back from my North and South America qigong teaching tour.  The workshops have been offered on a GFRF basis wherever possible, but I have also left it up to the local organizer to make arrangements as they see fit. This has led to a range of different systems including some where they have had a ‘minimum’ donation and encouragement to GFRF as well, some with a set price and others with a price or option to GFRF instead.

Good Experiences

I have had many wonderful experiences meeting generous, thoughtful and conscientious people of high personal integrity. For these people GFRF works well and is a wonderful way to interact. The exchange may be great or small, but the freedom of it has a certain beauty and authenticity which I think benefits all parties involved. Freedom is to be highly valued and I think helps those participating to truly engage with what they are doing on a deeper level and thus derive greater value from it.

Bad Experiences

Unfortunately have I also had many experiences which were not so good, with people who just decided that GFRF meant something for nothing, or for very little or far less than what they would pay for other things.  I find this attitude a little puzzling as if it is really of low value – why would they waste their time on it?  I would go further to say that there were several instances where I was used, abused and seriously taken advantage of.  There seem to be a lot of people that simply cannot (or choose not to) engage with the concept of GFRF with integrity.

Over the years I have been experimenting with GFRF I have encountered this with increasing frequency.  When I began to offer my clinical services on a GFRF basis, for the most part people gave about what they would have previously, with some giving a bit more, others a bit less, or even a lot less due to their circumstances – which is kind of the whole idea of GFRF, with only the occasional person ‘taking advantage’ of the system by giving very little when they could clearly afford much more.  And that was to accept a little of the bad with the good, as it enabled me to engage with people in this more authentic and beautiful way.  But over time the frequency of these more ‘negative’ experiences increased until they actually started to outnumber the good ones!?!~?!/!?!

The same goes for the online training that I offer. I get so many emails from people saying how they love what I am doing and they are planning on donating soon… … … … … and then they never do.  I wonder why they bother sending me the email of their plan to donate if they are not going to follow through? Almost all of those who are going to donate, just go ahead and do it! I then hear from the AFTER they have donated, or maybe not at all.

I have had so many conversations with people in various contexts saying how much they love what I am doing, how high the quality of my services are (whether it be clinical treatment, online instruction, or after a workshop) and even how much better they are than other services that they also use, while in the same conversation they also tell me of the quite large sums of money they are paying for these other services or other things, when they give me a very small fraction of this… Where is the disconnect???

My commitment as part of my working with the GFRF concept has been to accept whatever comes in the form of payment/donation without judgement. This has been very difficult at times to converse with someone calmly without judgement who is blatantly taking advantage of me. Emotionally the ego wants to respond, as the other person is in a very real way undermining my wellbeing. Sometimes it feels like an actual attack on myself and even physically and psychologically painful, which it is in away.  They have taken what I have to offer – which is usually my time, skills and knowledge, but really this is no different from taking my physical possessions, and by not giving in return for what they have received they are taking away my ability to provide and care for myself. They are also taking away my ability to continue to provide my services to both themselves and others.  What is not cared for and treated with love and respect withers and dies – if not immediately, then eventually.  We see this all the time in the world around us – one example being the natural environment… Yet I have been committed to persisting and accepting without judgement.

Learning from bad and sometimes painful experiences

I was having one of these types of conversations with someone after a workshop (for which they gave nothing), staying calm and neutral and trying not to pass judgement, when I felt something ‘click’ in my head. It almost felt like an actual click. There was a specific moment when suddenly something felt different inside. I didn’t immediately understand what it was, but I continued to ponder on it and realized that I had finally opened a new perspective and a new understanding on Giving and Receiving freely.

I realized that this person would not, and in fact COULD NOT receive the benefit from the workshop that they had just attended, because they had not given in return for it.

Universal Law

In my qigong workshops I often talk the laws of physics and that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, for every force an equal and opposite force, as I explain how the exercises work and how we channel and direct these forces within our bodies for our benefit. I am now convinced that there is a Universal law that on a what could be termed ‘spiritual’ level we can not receive what we do not give in equal measure for. If it were not so, the universe would be out of balance and come apart.

The amount given has nothing to do with it, it is the value of what is given to the giver that determines the value what they are capable of receiving in turn. The classic example in the Christian Bible is of the widow’s mite where a poor widow donated two mites (the smallest of coins) to the treasury of the church and Jesus pointed out that relative to here means she had given more than the wealthy who had given large sums of money.  This in turn meant that she could receive more. The giving needs to be relative to the means of the giver because it then reflects the value that they are investing on a deep level into the giving.  Without sufficient investment they cannot truly receive on a deep level.

Sometimes people seem to think they are ‘giving’ by thinking nice thoughts about something, or by talking about it. But most of the time they are fooling themselves when they do this. They are creating an illusion within themselves that they have given, and so the nature of their receiving will be illusory as well. If they want to receive tangibly, they need to give tangibly according to their means as well.

Focus on the Receiving?

This has given me a new perspective on GFRF. I am currently giving my all, and have very much wanted to focus on this giving without focusing too much on the receiving.  But I now realize that for my giving not be in vain I need to also focus on how to have others give sufficiently so that they can fully receive the benefits of what I am offering. I have struggled a bit with this in the past as I have been very aware that by working in a GFRF way, I am reducing the number of people that I reach with my skills and knowledge as so many people are too uncomfortable with the idea of GFRF to engage with it – so they don’t take up my services. And yet I have still wanted to work in a GFRF way to find those who do ‘get it’, and also for what it does for me. It helps me to purify my intent and motives. It means I focus on the underlying real intrinsic value of what I am doing instead of focusing on the sometimes false or distorted financial value. I can do things for the right reasons based on love, instead of for the sometimes wrong reasons based on fear and insecurity.

It has also given me a new perspective on setting prices. I believe that those people who choose not to engage with my services due to discomfort with GFRF are usually people with personal integrity, but with fear of interacting outside of the normal price based system. They don’t trust themselves to get it ‘right’. They want to respect and value what I do and pay me fairly, but they also don’t want to give more than they should/can, and considering this becomes too difficult, so they just opt out of it all together.  I would like to encourage these people to trust themselves more and fear less and give GFRF a try. I think the world would be better for it.  But if they will not engage on these terms, then having a price gives them a way to receive value in a way that they are comfortable, but it also perhaps puts a cap on how much value they will receive as they then will usually only give the price set and not more, which in turn stops them from receiving more.

For others having a price can even perhaps work as a kind of Karmic/Cosmic protection. If the upside benefit of receiving is limited by how much you in turn give, then surely there are also negative consequences for those who do not give as they should. Whether this be through carelessness or outright using and abusing, I am sure there are consequences in order for the universe to remain in balance. By having a price and using this to prevent people from using and abusing, in a way you are protecting them from these negative consequences.

These insights are valuable to me as I now feel much more comfortable about putting a price on things if I need to, because with this perspective I can now do this out of love for the other person and with their wellbeing in mind, rather than out of fear and thinking about myself getting enough.

But what then about those beautiful, magical free interactions with people who do understand and ‘get’ GFRF? What about those who only have ‘two mites’ but for them this is a lot? What about those who have a lot and can receive more by giving more?

I wonder if there is a way to have essentially a two tier system. A price for most people, but a way for those that ‘get it’ to interact using GFRF. This might not be so far different from how kung fu and qigong teachers operated in the past, where most students had to pay a set price, but those with a particularly close relationship instead just gave ‘gifts’ reflecting the value of what they learned and their relationship. Over time students could move from one group to the other.  Something for me to think about…

It isn’t over

I haven’t given up on experimenting and trying work with GFRF. I am committed to continuing to do as much GFRF as I can through the rest of this year, and particularly as I travel teaching qigong in Europe and other parts of the world. I feel I have more to learn and experience yet.  I am greatful for the insights I have received though, because as it stands each leg of my travels so far have cost me more than I have received in return (and I have kept my expenses to the ABSOLUTE minimum), so it is likely that I will need to change how I do things in the future, as by definition something that costs more than it returns is unsustainable in the long run – I simply won’t be able to continue it in this way as I won’t have funds to pay my expenses. I have kept living in hope that I will find enough people who ‘get it’ so that I can continue to work in as pure a GFRF way as I can, but given my experiences to date this seems unlikely. Those who ‘get it’ seem to be outnumbered by those who don’t by… I’d say about 100:1.  If any of you reading this are the ones that ‘get it’ I would like to thank you for being you and the GFRF interactions we have had, you are truly a rare and precious individual. There is still time to learn more and find different options of how to do things… I will see what the rest of the year brings.

Writing about negative things

As you can probably tell, the negative experiences I have had using GFRF have built up over the years. I have been hesitant to write too much about these as like most people I prefer to focus on the positive. And I think that is the right thing to do. We draw towards us what we focus on. This sometimes leads people to take a fanciful view of things though. There are many people who just assume that everything is going wonderfully and must be great because I am using GFRF – these are usually also the type of people who say they are going to donate ‘soon’…

But part of my commitment to GFRF is to right about it honestly, so that others can learn from my experience. Even if I don’t succeed, others can gain inspiration from my efforts, or even just lessons on what to do differently. So I feel good about letting people know that it isn’t all moonbeams and stardust, and rainbows and unicorns (the more practical minded already know this, those that do donate tend to assume that the whole GFRF is bloody hard but they at least respect me for giving it a go), particularly now that I can in a sense turn these bad experiences into a ‘good’ through the insights I have had about Universal Law.

Is the universe out of balance, or have I received?

So if this giving and receiving thing is truly a Universal Law, is the universe still in balance? Financially I have not received anywhere near what I need to survive for my efforts in my clinical work, online training, and many of my workshops and travel, but have I perhaps received in other ways? I think I certainly have. I have met wonderful people who I otherwise would not have. I have had many insights about my own qigong practice that I also think I would not have otherwise had. And as I have traveled I have had marvelous experiences interacting with and working with the earth’s energy in different geographies. Some of these experiences I think have come as a direct result of my commitment to giving freely. If this were not the case I think I may have been able to experience the earths energy but not interact with it in the way that I have. This has led to further enhancement of my abilities which I don’t know if I could have achieved in another way. In a way I think this is a gift back from the universe, keeping things in balance. I just hope that somehow financially things are able to come into balance in the future as well.

A bit long and rambly, but this is where things are at with my experimentation with GFRF 🙂 I’m sure I will have further updates in the future.


Give Freely Receive Freely – World Tour

Well its happening.  I have reorganized my life to give me the freedom to be able to travel and offer workshops on a ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ basis.  I am actually currently in Australia presenting workshops.  Later I will be going to the USA, Colombia, UK, Europe, Egypt, and South Africa. (You can see details at

In the end the tour will not be fully GFRF, I have left it up to the people in the different areas who are helping with organizing the workshops to decide how best to organize them in their area. This means that some are setting a price, others are having a ‘minimum donation’ arrangement, and others are running them straight GFRF.  And of course I do not have a source of freely given plane tickets, train tickets etc, along with other miscellaneous expenses along the way. Whatever the case I am going and presenting the workshops without expectation of whether they will make money or not, just focusing on the experience and sharing my knowledge and skills with others.  So in that sense it is still truly GFRF.

I hope that somehow this is able to work out, because to be able to live in a GFRF way is still my dream, but nagging at the back of my mind is that I may eventually have to change this and start to operate in a way where I charge set prices. In the end I have to be able to cover costs and live or it will be impossible to continue.  But for now I want to give it a chance, perhaps miracles can happen. I try to push these thoughts to the side and enjoy the journey in front of me for now.

A Crazy Plan?

So I’ve been struggling along working on what to do next.  I need to make some changes to move forwards with my life.  There are many possibilities, and one I am quite excited about.

You see most of the options I have been considering involve re-organizing and refocusing my work in a much more commercial way, so I can focus more on earning money under the rules of the standard economic system, and it may be that I have to do that as just part of dealing with the realities of life.  To be honest I feel a bit depressed thinking about it though, because I feel like if I do then I won’t have fully given Give Freely Receive Freely (GFRF) the chance it truly deserves.

You see I had a dream, or a vision of being able to live in a way where my interactions with others are financially free. Where my services and efforts do not come with a price attached, but simply as an expression of my care and love for those I serve.  Of course in order for me to do that and meet their needs and wants, I would also need their care and support in return in order to meet my needs and wants.  What an amazing life that would be living with such free and purely motivated exchange. But I have only managed to do that partially so far… I haven’t managed to go 100% GFRF.

Well there is one option I have been considering that might allow me to do that, at least for a time.  To be fair, I don’t know that I would manage 100% GFRF. The necessities of dealing with the world might not make this possible, but I might be able to do 90% or something like that.

So what is this crazy idea? It is to go on a Give Freely Receive Freely World Tour. I would travel the world teaching qigong workshops on a GFRF basis for a year, and see if I can manage to live that way.

This would address some of the issues I have mentioned previously holding me back from going 100% GFRF, namely having to pay substantial amounts of money for a lease to rent premises and also on other expenses.  By travelling I would largely free myself from this (there would be some fixed costs I would still need to meet even while I am away, but these would be greatly reduced from what I have to meet now), of course travelling can be expensive too though, so I would be relying on generosity and reciprocal giving in return for the teaching I would offer in order to keep me going.  As well as this some people might also help to reduce my travel costs by having me stay with them and feeding me and maybe even transporting me on some legs of my journey.

A world tour would also be an opportunity to communicate more about GFRF.  Doing it 100% (or close to it) might catch peoples attention and make them interested to learn and think about it.  And as I would be purely focused on my GFRF efforts, I think I would have a lot more time and energy to put into communicating about it as well.

Also awhile back I spoke to the guys at the Horse and Humanship centre (you can find details for them in the directory) about GFRF, and they said that they found it very hard to make it work in New Zealand, but much easier overseas – specifically in Europe. Perhaps part of my struggle has been my environment, and if I try it in another environment I will be more successful in living my GFRF dream.

If such a tour was really successful it might even help me to start to make progress towards some of my other ambitions.  I would like to be able to set up a retreat centre for learning qigong and other health practices.  And then again it may not be successful, but still I think it is something I would like to do.  I feel like GFRF is something valuable for the collective consciousness, and I would at least like to make what might be one last effort to live this fully and communicate it more widely.

I won’t make a decision about going on this GFRF tour just yet. I have committed to carry on with what I am doing (particularly with my kung fu school) until at least the end of the year.  And thinking about packing up and going is actually quite daunting.  There is so much that I will need to organize and put in place in order to do this.  I really want to leave my students well prepared and supported in their ongoing training. But it feels quite exciting. A chance to rekindle the dream, to see the vision again of living truly free.

So what do you think crazy, or a good idea?

Stuck in the Middle

Well its coming to the end of 2014 now and I haven’t written in this blog for quite awhile. I think about GFRF a lot, and I often think about things I would like to write about in the blog, but I am just too busy trying to take care of the other things in my life.  I think as it comes close to the end of the year I really should write at least something to update on where I am at with GFRF.

Basically GFRF is still a real struggle.  I really like doing things in this way, I see the potential of doing things in this way, and if GFRF was widely adopted I even see it as a solution for a multitude of social ills and perhaps even a formula for utopia.  BUT, so many people really don’t seem to understand GFRF, or if they do they are so conditioned into the standard economic way of doing things that they have a hard time embracing it.  Instead of GFRF opening a door of opportunity to people, for many it creates a barrier of misunderstanding.

GFRF is a very idealistic way to live and I have done my best to operate in this way, but it has been hard to get it to catch on.  In previous blog posts I have written about the need to communicate more about GFRF to help people understand it and become comfortable with it, but I find myself so busy with providing the services that I offer that I do not have the time and energy to also put significant effort into this communication.  I think for GFRF to really work well it may need a critical mass of people operating in this way to share the communication load and create a level of social normalcy around the concept.

And so I find myself a bit stuck in the middle.

I have glimpsed the possibilities of GFRF and I have tried to put it into practice the best I can, and have very much enjoyed the way this makes me feel and the way it helps me to focus on true value and not the distorted perception of value that sometimes comes when financial consideration is included in the perspective.

To date I have managed to live GFRF in only a portion of what I do, a very significant portion, but still just a portion.  Ideally I would like to do everything GFRF, but I haven’t had the confidence to do this.  I think this is largely down to my level of financial strength and freedom.  I think to live in a way which is at odds with the prevailing way of doing things requires great strength and courage, and maybe I’m not there yet. I think I have the courage, but maybe not the strength.

You see I only started to think of things in a GFRF way when I had paid off all my debts. As soon as I was completely debt free a window opened in my perception that allowed me to see the potential in GFRF, and so I decided to give it a try.  But being debt free may not be enough, as I do not have an asset base I am in a way still not very free.  I have the continuing obligation of paying substantial amounts of money in rent so that I can have a place to offer my services and also to live.  While I have this obligation it is difficult to operate completely GFRF, as I need some confidence that I can cover this rent, and my experience with GFRF has been that I could have had real trouble at times in meeting this obligation if I had been solely operating in this way.

I think if I had more financial strength (ie an asset base sufficient to provide me with premises to work in and a place to live) I would feel much more capable of going completely GFRF, and I think for psychological reasons I would be able to begin to go further in thinking differently and seeing things differently, in much the same way as I began to think about GFRF initially after becoming free from debt.  But things have not been going well enough under GFRF to allow me to accumulate the kind of asset base I would need for this…

I wonder if it might be a case of needing to take a few steps backwards before again moving forwards, to put more of my time and effort into activities that I set a price on so that I can acquire the resources I need to then put my time and energy back into things without price.  A case of doing more work in the system to become free from the system.

I know though that it is easy to become submerged in the normal way of thinking when you are operating within the system, to start to believe the rules and boundaries of the system are real and lose sight of the deeper truth outside of the system.  Having glimpsed the potential of GFRF, I don’t want to lose sight of it.  So I think I will continue to try to offer as much as I can on a GFRF basis, but until I start to receive more from these GFRF efforts I may need to rebalance my time and energy to spending more of it on pursuits where my return is more certain.

I’m not sure what shape this is all going to take, and my inclination is still to do more GFRF and not less.  I actually have an idea of how I could go completely GFRF at least for a time.  It would involve freeing myself of my need to have a lease and pay rent… so I think it would only be a temporary solution.  But it would allow me to be full GFRF, and I wonder if there is power in that, power that would allow me to acquire the resources I need to be able to continue GFRF permanently.  I wonder if part of the reason why I have struggled to succeed with GFRF is because I have not been able to commit 100% to it.

Anyway, its not something I can do immediately, but may be able to start working towards.  I guess I will see what eventuates.

Living Inside the System

I’ve had a few conversations lately that I’ve been thinking about.

Conversation One

A couple of weeks ago I had a couchsurfer who looked up the ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ website (I have the website address on the back of my business card along with the addresses of several of my other websites).  She said it was interesting and asked if other people were involved, and if I was trying to get other people involved.  I told her what I have been doing so far, which is that if I find people doing something similar I put a link to them in the directory, but I haven’t really been trying to get people involved as such.  She told me she thought more people could and would be involved if I put the effort in.

Conversation Two

I had a new client come into my clinic recently, when I told her about my payment policy (GFRF), she told me she was familiar with this concept and would try to be comfortable with it.  She also told me that she had tried using this type of payment system herself previously and had found it hard and so had given up.

Conversation Three

I had a client who I have dealt with numerous times on a GFRF basis, although not particularly regulary, since I began my experiment with GFRF.  She likes the idea but STILL finds it hard, even after – even after 2 years of intermittent contact with it.  She wanted to buy some gift vouchers for someone and asked me to please just tell her a price…

So these are the recent conversations, but I have had other similar ones previously with people liking the idea but expressing discomfort with actually using it, and also with people telling me they have tried to do something similar but found it too hard and gave up.

This got me thinking… at least on a positive note I have found it encouraging to hear from people that they have liked this kind of idea so much that they have actually tried it themselves, but a bit disappointing that they had not continued with it, and also a bit frustrating that people have found it so uncomfortable even after using it for so long.

Living Inside The System

I guess I don’t really find any of this surprising though.  Day to day each of us interacts with the rest of the world around us in a way very different from GFRF (for ease of reference I should probably come up with a name for the normal way people interact financially, maybe Standard Economic System – SES?, anyone have another idea? maybe leave a comment).  We have so many interactions and transactions with set prices and required payment, contracts and obligations, that this shapes the way we think.  Because we have to behave in this way so much of the time, we spend a lot of time thinking in this way.  Much as we may like the idea of GFRF, it requires a change in mode of thinking, and this can be uncomfortable and require quite a bit of effort when you have the habit of having to interact in a different way most of the time.

Personally even after two years of using GFRF, I still find it a bit hard because while I offer it myself, most of my other interactions with people are on an SES basis and I don’t really have a choice in it, so this has a constant impact on my way of thinking.  It is also difficult because I am constantly encountering peoples discomfort with it or difficulty understanding it.  But I really like the way working on a GFRF basis makes me feel.  I feel good about working in this way, I think it helps me to focus on the right things, the truly important things and not be distracted and diverted in the way that normal SES thinking can.  I think the instinct to live the GFRF way is actually fairly common, but constant exposure to the SES makes it hard for people to see how they can do it, so they shy away from it.

Community Support

I think what would help is to know and have regular contact with people who think the same way and are trying to do the same things.  This means forming a community.  I think this website could be part of building such a community.  It could be a place to share experiences and encourage each other and remind each other of what it is about GFRF that makes us want to live that way.

I have a couple of ideas I’d like to try to make this website more interactive and a better support for people interested in GFRF.

For a start I think it would be good if there were regular new blog posts about GFRF and peoples experiences with it.  I find that writing blog posts often takes me a lot of time as I try to think how I want to say things, and sometimes it is hard for me to find the time to put into writing new posts.  I’d like to try writing more often though so that there are things for people to read and keep them interested.  I would also like to extend an open invite to anyone else who would like to write a post for the site.  It could be something simple, how GFRF makes you feel or an experience you’ve had with GFRF.

I would also like to set up a forum on the website where people can post questions and comments etc and have meaningful discussion.  I have actually tried doing this already, but it didn’t quite work.  I will look at it again soon, but if anyone out there has skills in setting up a forum on wordpress it would be great if you could help out.

I think if we are active in communicating with each other and supporting each other it will make it easier to stay in GFRF thinking and not relapse into SES thinking, even while surrounded by SES systems.

Interacting With The SES World

I also wonder about modifying how I practice GFRF.  I do get tired of the discomfort many people have with GFRF, and I know that many people find GFRF confrontational in that it challenges some of their deeply held beliefs about how they need to act.  I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, I think that questioning can be productive, but its not really my aim to be confrontational.

I have been thinking along the lines of maybe offering my services at a price as per usual SES practice, but having it available on a GFRF basis for anyone who asks.  The GFRF would not exactly be a secret as I mention it numerous times on my various websites, the address for this website is on my business card and so on.  But I wouldn’t be confronting people with it.  Those who are interested and look it up would be able to find out what it is and make use of it, those who are inclined to find it confrontational probably wouldn’t even look it up.  In a sense I would be making GFRF optional.  I would be providing a price so that people embedded in an SES mindset can be more comfortable using my services, while still encouraging those who ‘get’ GFRF to use this principle in dealing with me.

I am still undecided about whether I want to do this or not.  I think there could be quite few benefits to operating in this way, but on the other hand I like being completely open and out there with my GFRF, I like that it encourages people to think.  Also setting a price is not ideal from a pure GFRF perspective (I think I’ll have to write something about the pro’s and con’s of pricing soon).

Anyway, that is a little of what I’ve been thinking about.  Leave any of your comments below, or you can email me on the contact page.



Focus On The Giving

Lately I’ve been thinking about some of what I do on a Give Freely Receive Freely (GFRF) basis and how I feel about it, and how I feel when I interact with others about it.

Sometimes communicating to someone about GFRF goes really well, it is easy and they get it.  Many other times it is awkward and they are a bit uncomfortable about it and really want me to just tell them a price – which kind of defeats the purpose to some extent.  I have wondered about why it feels so awkward sometimes and I think I have at least a bit of an idea why.

Giving And Receiving Are Both Important But…

I think part of it is to do with communicating that I am giving something to them, with no price attached, but I am also expecting something back from them.  I think the message gets confused somewhere in there.  They then seem to think that how much they give back will be judged and they have anxiety about how much to give etc.

In starting to experiment with GFRF at first I have put quite a bit of emphasis on explaining the exchange relationship, because for many people it is an unusual idea.  But the more I do it, the more I want to focus on just giving and not so much on the other person giving back.

This is interesting because I need to receive.  I am not independently wealthy and need to receive back financially in order for me to be able to continue my work and sustain myself, yet somehow setting the expectation of receiving back doesn’t feel quite right, or at least not as good as I would like it to be.

Giving More Freely

I wonder if I focus more on just giving freely myself, the receiving may take care of itself.  I wonder if naturally as a result of myself giving more freely, others will reciprocate in giving more freely as well, without having to be told or have it explained to them.

This is certainly what I feel like doing, so I am going to give it a try.

What I’m Doing About It

With my clinic work… not much, I’m reasonably happy with how that is going at the moment with GFRF.  Maybe I’ll make some changes in this area later.

The area that I will be changing things right away is with my online qigong courses.  I will be de-emphasising the GFRF aspect of the courses and just giving them away free.  I will still have donate buttons available for people to donate if they choose to, because I need to be open to receiving back and I need to have an avenue open for this to happen via.  There will still be a link to this site for anyone who is interested in the thinking behind why I am doing what I am doing, but I won’t put as much effort into explaining the two way exchange on the pages of the courses, I will just leave it up to individuals to give back if they want to.

It’s Still An Experiment

Of course this whole thing is still an experiment for me.  I expect there is still a lot to learn, and I expect I will tweak and change lots of things and I continue to try living GFRF.  I look forward to seeing what happens with this latest tweak.

One Year of GFRF – a review

Well it has been a little over a year since I began my experiment with ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’, so I thought I should post a bit of a review of the year.

Clinic Work

I began by choosing to offer my clinic services on a GFRF basis.  You can read what I first wrote about that here.  I was quite nervous about this, and not really sure what to expect.  But I felt good about it, so I put it out there and have stuck to it throughout the year.

Over the year I have found that on average I am probably a little busier in the clinic than I would have been previously. Payments have varied quite greatly, which is as it should be as people have greatly varying financial means, but overall I would estimate that the average payment has probably been a little higher than it would have otherwise been.

I have become more and more comfortable with this type of exchange over the year, but with each new person exposed to it there is some initial discomfort as they need to have it explained and so on.  Many people, even those who really like the idea, still ask that I tell them some kind of price to begin with.  This isn’t ideally in keeping with the GFRF philosophy, but my purpose is also not to make people uncomfortable either, so I generally tell them a price range to help them initially.

I have enjoyed working on this basis as it helps me to see people and their true needs more clearly and to think less about the payment I will receive for the work.  It helps me to focus more on providing them with what they really need rather than on what they are willing to pay for.

After using GFRF for awhile in my clinic, I wanted to expand it out into other areas of my work as well.

Online Courses

The next area I tried to use GFRF in was for an online qigong course I was developing.  I had previously offered this as a home study course and figured that by reformatting it and putting it online, I would not have the costs involved in printing manuals and DVDs etc, which would make it possible for me to offer it GFRF even if no-one paid me anything in return for using the course.  So my first online qigong course went live in August last year.  There is a blog post about it here.

The plan was always to develop a series of online courses, and I had ideas about trying different ways of setting them up to see which was most effective for receiving payment using GFRF.  I wrote about this in an earlier blog post here. My plan with my next online qigong course was to set it up behind a ‘pay wall’ people could still pay whatever they like for the course, but they couldn’t have access to it without registering and entering a number – even if that was zero.  This would create a strong prompt to make payment.

As the end of 2012 approached I really wanted to get the next qigong course online, but every time I thought about doing it and setting it up with a pay wall, it was like darkness filled my mind and I couldn’t bring myself to make progress.  How much of that was to do with not having the technical know how to set up the paywall (this would have required research and learning new skills) and how much was due to a subconscious aversion to walling off access to the course in this way – I don’t know.  But then I decided to go ahead with just putting the course up with unrestricted access and all my mental blocks just cleared away.  I ended up working long hours right through what was going to be my Christmas holidays and just got the first weekly installment of the course online by New Years day.  Additional work after that allowed me to keep up a weekly schedule of course updates until the whole course was online.

Since then I have put a third course online, also with completely unrestricted access.  You can find all three courses here.

I feel really good about having the courses online and freely available for people to use, and I have received some really lovely feedback from people of how they have benefited from the courses, but payments have been very slow to come in.  I have several more courses I would like to put online, but each one takes a significant amount of work to plan and prepare the instructional materials.  Not being independently wealthy, I have to fit this in around my other work and I need to prioritize to some extent those things that will pay me because… I have to eat and pay rent and so on.  For me to be able to put the time into more courses I will need to find a way to receive more for that work than I have so far.

I think a lot of it comes down to communication.  People are not used to the GFRF way of exchange so they don’t go out of their way looking for a way to give for what they have received.  I have some simple ideas of things I can try to encourage more people to give for the courses, and I may even need to revisit the idea of a paywall.  I think there is potential for it to work, but it might require some experimentation and refinement.

Classes and Workshops

I decided to try GFRF with some of my workshops and classes as well.  I did a few workshops completely GFRF,  but found it was a real hassle explaining to each person who wanted to come along, and I also got the feeling that maybe more people would have come if there was just a set price, so more recently I have run my workshops with set prices and the option of GFRF – which has worked ok, but I still get the impression that some people find even that uncomfortable.

I also ran a series of qigong classes at the beach over Summer GFRF, and really enjoyed it.  I have thought long and hard about expanding GFRF into the other classes that I run, but haven’t felt comfortable to do this.  I think there are many reasons for this, but that would take a whole blog post by itself to explore.  Instead what I have done is offered some of these classes GFRF on an underground basis – you can read about that here.  A few people have taken up this offer and I have felt really good about that.


It has been an interesting year.  I really like exchanging with people on a GFRF basis. I think that it helps me to look beyond some of the constructions and preconceptions that are common in society and see people more as they really are.  I think it helps me to be kinder, more compassionate and patient.  I think it helps me to have greater respect for people and treat everyone more as an equal.

Experimenting with GFRF has opened my mind to viewing many things in ways I would not have before.  In some areas I think it has helped me to ‘see behind the curtain’ of societal conditioning – so much of which has an economic basis.

I feel like there is great potential for interacting with people in this way.  I think there is potential to help me be a better person and have better relationships.  I think there is potential to solve many problems in society if this were adopted broadly.

I would like to write more about both the potential of broader application of GFRF and the very personal psychological insights that have come from using it, but find it difficult as I am so busy with the rest of my work.  In the end I think it is probably more important that I live it than that I write about it, but still I think there is value in the writing if I can find the time.

The biggest challenge with GFRF so far is that people are often uncomfortable with it.  It is so diametrically opposed to how many of use have been brought up to view our interactions with the world that many people have a hard time interacting with it.  I wrote about this here.  Trying to operate GFRF in this environment has been tough in some ways, but I see enough potential in it that I want to continue with my experimentation and see if I can become better at communicating this and achieve better results with it.  I will try to keep you posted 🙂

To benchmark or not to benchmark…?

I have been thinking a bit lately about using benchmarking in conjunction with Give Freely Receive Freely offerings.  This could potentially address a number of challenges people have with GFRF.


Perception of value

One of the challenges with GFRF in this status driven, money oriented, marketing focused, accumulation crazy, money centric society we live in is that a lot of the time people take price as an indication of quality or value of something that is offered.  All too often price is an entirely inadequate indicator, but nonetheless it is there deeply rooted in a lot of peoples psyches.

With this deeply entrenched thinking, when people encounter something which they can have for ‘free’ (GFRF), unfortunately I think many of them assume a lower quality or value is being offered.  This can lead them to not take full advantage of what is being offered – instead going for something that has a price that matches their expectations of the value they wish to receive.

I think with time and exposure people can overcome this bias as they realize that just because they can get what is offered for free, this does not equate to low quality or value.  In fact GFRF provides the ultimate conceptual counterbalance to this perception – there is no upper limit to what you can choose to pay (give in return) for something received on a GFRF basis either.  In a way I think over time this could lead to perception of higher value for GFRF offerings than offerings with set prices because the offerer is also giving you something else – Freedom to assign value as you see fit.  What price do you put on freedom in any of its forms?  I think it is very valuable.

But still, this shift requires a change from what is the predominant mode of current thinking and having a benchmark price can give a receiver a starting point in determining value.  They still then have the freedom to choose to assign a different value to it outside of the benchmark indication if they wish.

Input costs

This leads to another challenge with GFRF that benchmarking can address.  A customer (receiver) generally does not have a full appreciation of the cost of the inputs involved in providing what they receive (rent, labour, materials, R&D, taxes, administration, communications etc etc), so they don’t know if what they pay for it will even cover the cost of provision or whether it may actually cover the costs many times over.

Benchmarking can address this by giving an indication of an exchange level that covers the givers costs and provides them with what they need to be able to comfortably continue providing what they offer.  Receivers can still choose to give less or more than this according to their personal circumstances and their desire to provide additional support, see the venture grow and expand, express gratitude etc.

Freedom discomfort

In my experience a lot of people like the idea of GFRF, but when confronted with actually doing it find it very uncomfortable – perhaps due to some of the reasons discussed above.  They don’t want to rip off the person giving to them but don’t know how to assign a value to what they have received without some kind of external direction.  In the end I usually help these people out by giving them some kind of idea of what I used to charge when I had set prices, what other people charge for similar services etc.

A benchmark would probably help these people to come to a price point they are comfortable with a lot more quickly and easily, but this then leads into some of the downsides of having a benchmark for GFRF offerings.

Less engagement required

By giving someone a benchmark price they no longer have to think as much about what has gone into what they have received, they no longer have to think as much about the welfare of the person or people they have received from, basically if they want to they can just take things on face value and go back to thinking more about themselves and less about others.

I think overall this leads to less understanding, care, compassion and to use a cliched term – ‘connection’ between parties to the exchange.  It is easier for people to be wrapped up in their own world, selfish and self centred because they are not required to put as much thought into their interactions with others.

Of course just because there is a benchmark doesn’t mean people will think/act in this way, just as with set prices people don’t always think/act in this way.  But the thought required to decide for yourself what or how much you will give to someone else in return for what they provide you acts as a great prompt for people to think in a caring, compassionate way for the people around them.  I think this benefit is weakened by having a benchmark in place.

Intrinsic Value Identification

In my mind this is probably the biggest downside to having a benchmark.  People don’t have the same level of stimulus to identify and appreciate the intrinsic value of something. It becomes much easier for them to rely on an externally imposed indicator of value and assign their own internal value and appreciation accordingly.

I think many of us do not come close to fully appreciating so many of the most valuable things in our lives.  The people we love and have close relationships with.  Nature and the environment (a beautiful sunrise, clean air, fresh water, trees, etc).  Freedom to act, think, change and grow.

These things are FREE yet have infinite value.  Also while being FREE, they are not without cost.  Relations require time, people require communication and support, our environment requires that we take care not to destroy it, our freedoms have been defended repeatedly with the lives of soldiers fighting those who would control us.

We can’t really assign a price to these things.  Money may be involved in supporting and protecting  them, but it does not represent their value.  Somehow putting a price in dollar terms on these sorts of things cheapens them and causes us to miss their true value.  One of the big problems in our world today is people focusing so much on money and what they can get for it that they do not appreciate or make full use of what they already have.

Similarly having a benchmark is putting a dollar value on what is offered – and I think can take the mind away from understanding and appreciating the true value received, regardless of money being exchanged to support the provision of the offering.

Less Freedom

Basically putting a monetary value on what is offered makes the whole exchange less free.  People are inclined to base their value perception and exchange behaviour around the indicated value even if they don’t have to because it is a benchmark rather than a set price.  The fact that a number has been put on it causes them to begin to think in a certain way about it relative to the benchmark.

In essence the canvas for the exchange is no longer blank it has a mark on it that participates are likely to evaluate things in relationship to.  They no longer have full freedom to determine and define their own parameters.

This can lead to them feeling inadequate or ‘cheap’ if they pay less than the benchmark, and conversely it may restrict them from giving as much as they would like because they don’t want to overpay too much above what something has been deemed to be worth.

Much as with the other downsides discussed, having a benchmark doesn’t necessarily mean people will behave in this way.  They can still choose to do what they like, even with a benchmark they have great freedom in the exchange under GFRF. The situation just doesn’t encourage the same level of freedom. Essentially to obtain it they have to first ‘paint over’ the established benchmark on the ‘blank canvas’ so that it does not influence their own thinking and perceptions.  It is one more step to full freedom in their own mind which most people won’t take, most people will leave the benchmark there and evaluate in relationship to it.

Does the idea have merit?

In the end I think the idea of benchmarking alongside GFRF offerings is not ideal, but does have merit.  It makes the idea of choosing your own price for exchange more accessible to many people so that they will feel more comfortable doing it.  It could act as an entry point to GFRF for people, and once they get comfortable with GFRF with a benchmark they might be able to move on to a more ideal type of GFRF exchange without benchmarks – much like taking the training wheels off a bike.

I know that many people struggle with the practicality of GFRF exchange, even if they like the concept, and having an easier version for them could be a good way to start them experimenting in exchanging in this way.

Someone who attended one of my qigong workshops recently told me about her experience with a cafe in Auckland that used to operate ‘gift-economy’ (very similar to GFRF).  She said much as she liked the idea she couldn’t bring herself to go in and eat there because she didn’t know how to come up with a price.  Now that cafe no longer operates on ‘gift-economy’ it has set prices, probably because lots of other people were also uncomfortable exchanging in that way without reference point.  Benchmarking could have been some intermediate ground that might have worked and encouraged their ‘gift-economy’ principle to grow.

A friend of mine who is a lawyer operates in a way similar to this (yes a lawyer with a heart and conscience… they do exist).  His firm tells their clients what their full chargeout price for work is, but because they work with a lot of startups recognizes that they may not be able to pay the full price and allows them to come up with a price they can afford.  In this way they allow the client to use their services at a price they can afford, without the client perceiving those services as lower quality due to the lower cost.  The expectation is set that when the client can afford to pay more they will come up to the full pricing.  This helps the law firm earn the money that it needs across different clients and avoids clients jumping ship to another more expensive firm due to perceiving the lower cost services they have received as lower value.

It is a practical solution that also allows compassion, and one that I respect greatly.

Scale of GFRF approaches

Practicality is important, great ideas are only valuable if you can actually get them to work.  Along these lines I think there is a scale of ways that GFRF can be implemented according what is most ideal vs what is most practical/workable.  That scale probably looks something like this:

(Underground GFRF is another idea I’m toying with, I wrote about it in this post here)

I think that moving at least some way up the scale is preferable to staying stuck at conventional pricing.

Implementing a Benchmark

There are several ways you could go about setting benchmarks if you chose to.

  1. The pie in the sky method.  This is where you set a ridiculously high price on what you are offering, thus increasing the receiver’s expectation of what they should pay for it in the hopes that they will feel good about paying a reasonable price and that they have actually got far more value than this.  This has been used extensively in high pressure sales environments, particularly infomercials and internet infoproducts.  I guess they use these strategies because they have found that they work, but I feel like they are intellectually dishonest (why exactly are they selling you something of ‘over $5000 value‘ for the ‘low today only price of $27‘ again?).
  2. The competitive market approach.  This would involve comparing the prices that others in the market offer similar goods or services for and pricing according to the relative quality of what you offer.
  3. The cost plus approach.  This would involve adding up the total cost of providing what you do and then adding a margin so that you can make some kind of profit.
  4. The end result approach.  This would be where you decide how much you would like to earn and how many goods/how much service you are comfortably able to offer and divide the end sum by this to come up with unit pricing.
These are a few methods you could use to come up with a benchmark to use.  Each has  things in its favor and against it.  I think I would be inclined to use a mix of methods 2. 3. and 4. to set a realistic benchmark and have faith that what is received comes out somewhere in that ballpark – with some paying more and others paying less, rather than setting an unrealistic benchmark to allow for people to consistently pay less than the benchmark.

The Decision…

So back to the question of whether to benchmark or not to benchmark.

I can see it as possibly being useful.  I know that in the past I have tended to set my prices too low, I think I have tried to price for the lowest common denominator to make what I offer as affordable as possible for everyone.  But this has meant that I have not always been able to offer the level of service I would like too due to having insufficient resources.  It has also sometimes led to a lower perception of value – which can be very frustrating, knowing that often you are actually providing something of better quality than someone else charging several times your price and having people perceive the value based on the price rather than what is actually received.

Benchmarking could address some of these issues by giving people a pricing indicator in line with the quality offered while allowing those who can’t afford that to still pay what they can afford to receive the service.  I prefer the purity of straight GFRF though.  I think there are additional benefits to this that you don’t get with a benchmark.

I don’t know at this point if I will use benchmarking with my GFRF, but it is another useful  compromise approach that I could use if needed as I continue to experiment with GFRF.


My first GFRF product offering

My first experiment with offering a physical product GFRF is now live.  I haven’t offered physical products GFRF previously due to the fixed cost of the products.  If a lot of people bought the products at or below what it cost me to supply them… well I would quickly run into financial trouble.  Its a bridge I wanted to cross at some point though, so today I have taken that step.

The product is an ‘Acupuncture Massage Ring’ and has been really popular in the past when I have sold them for $8.95 each.  It will be really interesting to see how people respond to paying what the want for them.  I figure now is a good time to get the product online as Christmas is coming and people will be looking for gifts soon.

I am not entirely sure how I will promote the offer, probably just on facebook and via my websites, but it is now up on a new page of the GFRF website – the ‘Shop’.  If this is successful I will look to adding additional products in the future.  Also if anyone else has products they would like to offer GFRF, maybe I will be able to include them on the Shop page as well, or at least link to your own website with the offer.  The offer must be truly GFRF though with no strings attached, not something that is just an intro to try and get someone to buy something else at a fixed price.

Anyway, at some point in the future I will report back on how this experiment with GFRF physical goods goes.