Monday, May 18, 2009

Receiving Graciously Holds Hands with Giving Freely

In the fantastic
Spring Cleansing Workshop that I just completed with Sacha Jones of Stiggly Holistics, we got onto the topic of receiving. The group was composed of givers, and we all had difficulty receiving in one way or another. The conclusion we came to was that one cannot really give of themselves, if they have closed themselves off to receiving.
Sacha had made us copies of this wonderful article from Ode Magazine, which I highly recommend reading:

I, in turn, sent it to my friend, Jeannine, who told me that this was the very thing she’d been working on in her own life, and had in fact, made copies of this very same article and handed out to some friends. Quite the full circle.

As a personal example, I have always had difficulty receiving compliments. My response to “You’re very pretty", went something like, “Oh, shut up. Stop it. No I’m not.” I have learned that this is a disservice to the person granting you the compliment. They are offering you something heartfelt, and in turn, you are patently refusing it. I still struggle with this, but now I am much more likely to respond with a “Thank you. I really appreciate it.” vs. a “Shut up!”

A few weeks ago, I was in my favorite little grove of pines in my local park. This is a place I go to recharge, to attend my “church” of Nature, and to breathe prayers. I was seated and leaning against an old pine, eyes closed, practicing deep breathing. When my hands are out and open, I have a natural tendency to close them up. But having read, discussed and thought about the act of receiving, I became aware of this habit at that moment and realized that it had significance. Opening my hands completely made me feel a little self-conscious (even with no one around), and also vulnerable. But I let myself go and really allowed myself to take in all the energy around me. By yielding a little control, I was able to gain something better.

I have a 90-year old great aunt who can spend an entire day and evening slaving away in her little kitchenette to bake something wonderful for my family, but heaven forbid you should bring her something, she will hound you to give you the money for it until you go mad. Even in all her wisdom and years on the earth, she doesn’t understand that by focusing so intently on paying back, she is in effect depriving the person of the simple soul-filling pleasure of offering something. Our society is so conditioned in reciprocity that we forget that reciprocity can be worked out in other ways besides the merely tangible.

Learning to receive is basically learning to be more open. To take in what the world is offering you –whether it’s help from a friend or neighbor, a physical gift, a compliment, opportunities, or even when you find yourself in a beautiful garden or park—to simply receive the smells and sights of your surroundings, without the burden of guilt, or feeling unworthy, or feeling obligated to return a similar favor.

It is also important to learn to receive not so positive things. When we have crises, the natural inclination is to run away from them, to push them away, or to try to “fix” things as quickly as possible. But inspite of the pain, we can embrace and use crises of health, spirit, finance, and others, as gifts that help us learn and become stronger, healthier, wiser, better.

Receiving graciously can be as fundamental as really opening your lungs and receiving fresh air and as vital as learning to receive love fully from your partner, or your children. In time, you learn that you grant equal gifts naturally.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. that is so eloquently put, thank you