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The Art of Receiving

To master the Art of Receiving, one has to become receptive. Makes sense. The oil painting above, titled “Receptive”, presents a spongy field with green shoots of new life. The thirsty land is soaking up life-giving water and allowing it to nourish whatever is emerging. This painting always made me think of frogs and pollywogs – minnows and the soggy soakers of spring thaw. The colours relate to the heart and throat chakras that house love and personal expression where we receive Divine guidance and hear our muse’s whispers.

I’ve been playing with what it would look like to be able to receive everything with gratitude. Everything? Yes – everything.

Receiving everything is about consciously accepting what is – without resistance, judgement or attachment. It’s about honing a talent for receiving whatever is offered with grace and gratitude. If every day is a gift, then receiving the day with all it brings is a heart-full way to live. It takes trust to receive without judgement. Trust in a bigger picture. The Art of Receiving is a way of being that embraces;

  1. The grateful acceptance of things actively given, presented, or paid like a compliment, gift, resource, or piece of advice (wanted and unwanted), as well as synchronistic signs and coincidences.

  2. The gracious acceptance without judgement of whatever shows up, exactly as it shows up. Enlightened beings are known to “not mind what is” whether a traffic jam or rude behavior, they simply don’t take it personally.

  3. The less tangible mental logging or felt sense of something communicated by body language, gesture or symbolic cueing. The universe and our own inner guidance is always trying to communicate with us but we must be in a state of noticing and listening for this guidance to receive it.

  4. The detection of mostly invisible signals including psychic or intuitive hits, indirect clues, memories, downloads, dreams, energetic transmissions and inner guidance.

Of course it isn’t always easy to feel grateful for what is. I recently heard a teaching story about an encounter Neale Donald Walsh, the author of Conversations with God, had during a flight. Without recognizing Neale, the passenger seated beside him proceeded to complain about a man that his wife was being influenced by – named Neale Donald Walsh! Neale was a good sport and listened without reacting but, after a while, he found himself getting increasingly triggered so he excused himself to go to the washroom to regain his composure. After venting his frustration and other feelings, Neale listened for God’s council as he had grown accustomed to doing. Imagine his surprise when he was guided to be grateful for the encounter. For being insulted and wrongly accused?! But Neale’s faith is strong and he took the advice to heart. Returning to his seat, Neale decided to reveal his identity. At first, it didn’t make any difference. The man continued his tirade. Eventually though, Neale’s lack of defensive response left space for the man to calm down and reconsider. They finished the flight calmly discussing Neal’s work.

The word Receiving brings up notions of abundance and generosity and sounds like fun. But, even the receipt of well-meaning gifts can get surprisingly complicated. I confess, I love to give gifts and put a lot of time and thought into my selections. I’ve noticed that I especially love to give gifts that are received with joy and gratitude. In other words I get to feel good too – nothing better than that rare but cherished “Nailed it!” But not all gifts hit their mark in spite of good intentions. Some even cause unintended stress.

The script writers for the sitcom Big Bang Theory had some fun with this a few years back. Sheldon, who is stressed by the pressure of gift exchanges bought several gift baskets in various price ranges for Penny so that he could keep things even-steven once he’d opened her gift to him and assessed its value. In his iconic emotionally unencumbered outlook, Sheldon wonders irreverently if the obligation of gift exchange doesn’t contribute to the increase in holiday suicides! In the end, Penny gives him is a signed autograph on a napkin. Sheldon is overwhelmed by this priceless gift and dumps all of the baskets on the bewildered Penny.

I laughed along with the canned applause at this exaggerated clip but it made me think. I have a good friend who has taught me a lot about the art of receiving. When I call her she answers with excitement and sincere joy at hearing my voice. Whatever I give her is perfect. Not everything can possibly be of course but it is always received with the deepest gratitude. While I know that she struggles as much as anyone with self-acceptance, I also notice that she receives compliments with grace. I wish I could claim to be as magnanimous.

While I am aware of a long-standing longing to receive, I notice that I often do things that block, taint or send mixed signals to the universe. My rebellious inner thoughts are full of sabotaging “not that colour”, “not that size”, “not right now”, – in other words, No. No. No. And the universe hears that loud and clear! By the way, this is the shadow side of allowing. Allowing and receiving are twin sisters so this is a continuation of my last post.

As my friends and family will attest, I’m pretty fussy and particular so I’m not that easy to give to. Top that off with the fact that I’m at a stage in my life where I’m consciously letting go of stuff and simplifying in continuous layers. I’m fiercely independent and it’s easier to feel in control when you’re giving, so that’s part of it too. Asking for help and then accepting it without needing to repay immediately doesn’t come easily to me. Like Sheldon, I don’t like to feel beholden. And – I’m determined to become more receptive.

Giving and taking are two sides of the same coin. At least they’re meant to be. In real life, it seems they are often separate and out of balance. The “givers” seem to have a limitless bank of treasures to share (an illusion) and no trouble finding willing receivers. It feels really good to give and it’s impossible to give without receiving something in the way of feeling good and the genuine joy of witnessing another’s pleasure. On the other hand, as much as I love to give, I hate to be taken from and I sometimes send confusing signals. Luckily, I can choose differently when I notice that limiting belief resurfacing.

The need to give more than I receive may be rooted in lingering unworthiness or lack of trust. Since I want to experience and inspire beauty, balance and peace for all, this is worth exploring.In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brené Brown says we can’t give with an open heart until we can receive with an open heart.” And so, with an open heart, I receive all with gratitude now. And so it is.

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