We are programmed at a very early age to share our toys, to help others, to not be focused on self, that self-absorption is a “bad thing”. Self-sacrifice builds character, we are told. This programming has a simple flaw in it that many of us carry into adulthood-that flaw is balance.
We live in a dual Universe. Where is the balance in always giving? Balance occurs only when we not only give, but also receive. Many of us have forgotten how. This is especially true for those of us that have adopted a caring attitude for others, for society, for humanity, for our cities, our country and our world. We spend countless hours working on projects that help those in need, those less fortunate, the earth, the drought, not to mention the giving we do in our daily work lives, as parents, or care takers to elderly parents. I am not suggesting we stop these efforts, I am simply giving us permission to “fill the well”, to restore balance, to receive. For in that balance, we are able to keep going, to achieve our altruistic goals, from a place of restoration and balance of self…a place of self-love.
Many of us are afraid that if we shut off our cell phones, skip a few hours or a day of work, or play hooky from life, we will miss an important opportunity. Actually the opposite is true. By going 24-7 we run the risk of burn out, dis-ease or worse!
Author Alana Fairchild, in her guidebook, “Sacred Rebels” (Blue Angel publishing) states, “From a place of nourishment you will more effortlessly create, live and love with greater energy and thriving, pulsing passion. The earth rests each night so it can greet the sun again each morning with the spectacular living art of sunrise. Allow your-self to switch off, step away, close the laptop, switch off the phone, and just be with yourself for a little while. You will return and be more efficient and effective. Rest now, play now, and work later. Forget your worries for a while. Switch off. Do something else. Let it all go and it will all flow.” Fairchild reminds us of the famous French Impressionist painter, Monet, as he sat in his garden on a warm afternoon. He was napping lightly on his garden bench, with the sunlight dappling gently through the straw hat resting over his face. It was soft and warm on his closed eyelids. He sighs contentedly. A nosy neighbor poked his head over the fence, keen to know what the brilliant artist was up to now. “Sir, you are resting!” the curious neighbor called out. “No”, responded Monet, wriggling to get even more comfortable on his reclining garden chair. “I am working.” He relaxed further as the mild breeze tickled the hair on his forearms.
Monet returned to his garden the next day. Consumed by the urge to translate his feelings onto the canvas, he painted with great energy and focus. He was inspired and paint flowed. Again the nosy neighbor poked his head over the fence. He called out, “Sir, you are working!”
“No,” said the artist, barely pausing with his brush, “I am resting”.
Following are two receptive yoga postures that are easy to integrate into your practice, or perhaps they will inspire you to begin a simple practice of receiving:
Yoga postures that open us to receive:
As Sally Kempton states in Yoga Journal (2-29-12), “Just as each yoga posture you practice affects you psychologically as well as physically, these hand and arm gestures, combined with an intention to be receptive, can help you train yourself into a receptive mode.
The Cup: Form a cup with your hands, wrists, thumbs, and pinkie fingers together, letting the other fingers splay open. Place your cupped hands against your chest, over the heart center, with the sides of the thumbs touching the chest. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, with the sensation that the breath is bringing energy and light into your body through your cupped hands.
Arms to the Sky: Standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, hold your arms at your sides, about 6 inches from your body, with your palms out and your elbows relaxed. With an inhalation, gently let your arms float up until they form a wide funnel, fingertips pointing at the sky. Keep the arms relaxed as your face tips upward slightly.
Let yourself embrace the space, with the sense that you are opening to and welcoming in the energy of the universe. Slowly draw your arms down the front of your body, with your palms open, until your arms are about a foot away from your body. Then let your arms relax at your sides. Repeat twice.”
As you embark upon your conscious “receiving” practice, keep a journal beside your nightstand and take time to jot down any feelings that surface. Perhaps some judgment or shame may bubble up. Embrace these messengers and keep reminding yourself that each day is your day to receive the bounty and gifts of the Universe that holds you it its loving arms!