I asked the group what they felt receiving meant. Openness and taking in were some of the responses. One woman in the group stated one of the definitions I found in the dictionary: to accept. The kind of receiving I wanted to talk about, which is important in creating what we desire, is a willingness to have – an acceptance of what is offered. This is different than the connotation of the word that implies involuntary reception, like “receiving a blow”. We’ve all had those kind of unpleasant experiences. But in this context, we’re talking about receiving as an embrace of what is possible and desirable in our lives.
Let it in
Another definition that the dictionary offers is “to admit, let in”. This relates to openness: if we are closed to certain situations or energies, then we won’t be able to receive them. We may say on one level that we’d like to have more prosperity in our lives, but when we don’t allow ourselves to envision the increase in our bank account or living in a larger, more comfortable space, we may shut off the flow of energy to bring us those wishes.
“Letting in” involves opening a door with faith, not always knowing how our good may enter through it. When we allow abundance to enter from any direction of our lives, we can be pleasantly surprised at the results. If we are unwilling to receive, we may be blocking the possibilities.
The capacity to hold
A third definition of receiving is “to have room for, to hold.” In order to receive what we’d like, there needs to be space for it. Consider, on the physical level, the capacity of a closet. We can’t buy new clothes or other items if it’s stuffed full of old things we never wear or use. We need to make room by releasing, letting go of what is no longer needed or useful. A bowl filled with water cannot receive any more. If we let go of what is filling it only then can the water pour in again.
Release in order to receive
Some of the things that we need to release in order to receive are negative beliefs about receiving. I asked the room of women if anyone felt uncomfortable with receiving. Several hands shot up in the air. What was it about receiving that was uncomfortable? One woman said it made her feel vulnerable, another mentioned the sense of being indebted to the other person, and another added it can bring up the feeling of unworthiness – the need to “do” something in order to feel worthy of receiving what is given. Heads nodded all around. These and many other issues can block our ability to receive.
One of those attitudes is that “it’s better to give than receive.” Giving is big in our culture, from giving gifts to giving of time and energy. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to give something from the heart. However, we’re also expected to give more of ourselves in our work than ever before, and then assumed we have time and resources to offer to volunteer organizations, hobbies, and social activities, let alone our loved ones.
Receiving is beautiful, too
The role of giver is more familiar, allowing us to feel in control, generous, and perhaps a little superior to others. Giving is perceived as positive, whereas there are a lot of negative connotations about receiving. We don’t want to be needy. We don’t want to take advantage of others. Giving makes us feel worthy, but what is the value in receiving?
While giving is a beautiful thing, it’s beautiful to receive as well. Without receiving, there can be no true giving. A gift is a joy to give because the other person appreciates the gesture. Who finds pleasure in offering a gift to someone who refuses it or takes it grudgingly? We rob others of the fulfillment of being able to give when we refuse to receive.
Release the blocks to receiving
We also rob ourselves of positive new experiences when we shut ourselves down to receiving. Many of us are filled with attitudes that block our ability to receive. Ideas of “that can’t happen” or “I haven’t done anything to deserve that” can get in the way of taking in what we long for. We may resist a loving gesture from another for fear that we’d have to give something similar back.
All of these perceptions block our capacity to receive, filling that bowl with “shoulds”, “shouldn’ts”, “can’ts”, and “gotta dos”. Pour them out and open to the possibility that you are worthy of receiving, right now, just as you are. There’s nothing you need to do or change in order to receive the love you deserve other than let go of the resistance to receiving it!
Receptivity creates harmony
An open receptacle, like wide-spread, loving arms, attracts something to enter it. A receptive attitude harmonizes with love, acknowledgement, peace, and abundance – anything that you would love to have more of. Mental or emotional blocks can repel the good coming into your life and cause discord.
My tingshas teach me about this receptive attitude. Tingshas are Tibetan bells or chimes that I often ring at the end of my yoga classes. Over the many years that I’ve used them, I’ve learned a lot about how to make them chime most sweetly.
One of the things that I discovered is that when I try to swing them both into each other, then tend to make a loud clang and usually hit each other twice, sounding awkward. The force of each trying to hit the other causes too much energy and they repell one another, causing disharmony. This is like pushing away the good that comes our way. But when I let one be still and receive the other one striking it, the sound is sweet and soft. One needs to give and the other needs to receive in order for there to be harmony and pureness to the tone. When we wish to receive, we must be in a receptive, open place. Take time to look at what is blocking you from receiving what you most desire.
Your breath reflects receptivity
One way of self-exploration into your capacity to receive right now is through your breath. Sit comfortably, with the spine upright and long, and begin to notice your breath just as it is. Start with observing your inhalations. What is it like to breathe in? Does it feel spacious or constricted? Are there some spaces that don’t receive the breath? Do you enjoy inhaling or find it uncomfortable? Then notice the pause between the inhalation and the exhalation, and how you feel about that. Is it short or long, pleasant or tense?
Next, observe how the exhalation is for you. Are you eager to exhale or reticent to let go? Do you find it pleasant? Do you completely let the breath out, or do you hold on to some of it? Finally, notice the pause between the exhalation and the next breath in. Do you rush into the next exhalation, or is there a long pause? How do you feel about it?
The inhalation is our capacity to receive in this moment. If you want to work on allowing something to enter into your life, imagine working on expanding the quality of your inhalation while breathing what you desire in. The pause reveals how we feel about what we’ve taken in and our capacity to hold it.
As we exhale, we explore the process of letting go. If we’re holding on to the exhalation, we’re likely holding on to something that blocks our ability to take in. Certainly the quality and depth of the inhalation is directly related to the completeness of the exhalation. If we don’t make space by emptying out, we cannot draw as much breath in. It thus reflects that same capacity to release, like emptying the bowl of water, in order to receive more in.
Noticing how we feel in that emptiness after the exhalation will further reveal if we are truly letting go or if fear arises that there will not be enough on the next inhalation. That fear can block our abundance if we believe that the universe has a lack of love, prosperity, success, or whatever we’d like to manifest.
The empowerment of receiving
Finally, rather than the perception that receiving is a powerless, needy position, a receiver is actually a potent manifester. It is through the deep willingness to accept, take in, and allow space for our greatest good that magnetically attracts it into our lives as a vacuum draws air into it by emptying so powerfully that it must be filled.
Changing your perception about this aspect of receiving empowers your day to day life. The group of women I spoke to that evening partnered up with someone and practiced being a conduit of whatever energy the receiving partner asked for (it could be happiness, peace, healing, etc) and allowing that energy to come through the giver’s hands into the receiver’s. After the process, one woman shared that she was really able to receive a palpable feeling of healing into her body. This was a powerful statement, for instead of giving credit to the giver – “you healed me” – she owned that it was her ability to receive the energy that created the healing.
Imagine applying that to all areas of life. “I feel love in your presence”, rather than “I feel OK because you love me.” The source is within ourselves to be able to receive that. Rather than a promotion at work making us feel worthy, recognize that our faith in the quality and worthiness of our work merited a promotion and we opened to receive that. Refining our ability to receive empowers us to feel satisfied within and expands our capacity to receive more.
Receiving deepens our giving
Ultimately, allowing ourselves to receive brings us full circle to deepen our capacity to give. When we feel nourished, satisfied, and complete within ourselves, there is far more to give. We give more freely, without concern for receiving back. We realize that when we empty ourselves out and open ourselves up, the universe abundantly supplies what we are willing to accept. Pour the water out of the bowl, set it out in the rain and drink it in. Be like a morning glory, opening to receive the light of the sun, and then look for what blooms in your life.
Copyright © 2005, 2011 by Constance L. Habash