“It’s better to give than to receive” - (Acts 20:35, King James Version, the Bible)
This time of year there is a lot of emphasis on gifting. Did you know that giving activates the “love hormone” oxytocin? It’s literally pleasurable to be the giver. Yet we cannot give without someone on the other end receiving. Why is that role so difficult? It’s potentially a mutual experience of connection; we deprive ourselves of that moment of closeness when we are reluctant to fully receive.
Resistance to being the recipient can be because we don’t want to feel controlled, manipulated or somehow obligated to the other person. We are wary that there are “strings attached”. We may feel pressure to reciprocate. The giver seems to have the power in this dynamic, especially if the person receiving is considered lacking or in need.
Our capacity to be touched by caring, appreciation, and generosity requires vulnerability. Being open and vulnerable is challenging; it can be awkward, or uncomfortable. Pride also gets in the way - we may feel guilty or ashamed to be on the receiving end. No one wants to be considered “less than”.
How many times have you brushed aside compliments, deflected a “thank you”, discounted your contribution, minimized an acknowledgment? When we give a perfunctory reply it denies the giver true satisfaction; we haven't completed the exchange. How do you feel when your gift isn't appreciated?
Receiving requires dropping (momentarily) into Being. Being is a naturally receptive state where you can truly receive what is being offered. (See link below to learn about the Hara, "a reference point for Being".) How do we practice being a gracious receiver? It doesn’t even necessarily involve another person. We can start in small ways, with opportunities that are everyday occurrences.
The spiritual practice of saying a prayer before eating creates that receptiveness, and prepares our body to digest food. Take a moment to appreciate what you are about to eat. This can be as simple as looking at your food with attention, to visualizing all the elements that came together to produce this meal. My young children were always impatient with this, but just holding hands and saying “blessings on our meal” was enough to better receive our food.
You can do something similar with vitamins, medicines and supplements. While holding them in your hand, imagine those nutrients coming into your body and filling it with light. I believe this practice also makes them more easily assimilated and attunes them to the energy of my body,
Don’t deflect compliments. Bring that energy to your heart - heartfelt! When you hug, move to your right so that your hearts are aligned. Relax for a moment and feel any tension drain from your body. Enjoy this lovely, mutual ritual of giving and receiving (but as I noted above, someone may feel awkward at this exchange!)
We can also receive - music, sounds and sights in nature, breath, the warmth of a fire, a loving look… there is so much to be thankful for. Integrating a specific practice like this takes gratitude from a concept or a phrase to an experience.
Share a moment of grace, today!
Peace, love and healing -