Thinking about you in the spirit of loving kindness.
We’re all tending to the matter at hand, the season of making merry. For each of us it’s unique how we’ll celebrate, how we feel about the holidays, what our heart is showing us.
I’ve come to believe that Christmas is a bit of a private matter. We’re all in it together, yet we’re all having our own private conversation about it.
Sometimes the holidays are just about showing up. Letting it unfold in the moments without demanding too much or too little.
Some years it’s actually quite a joy.
I’m having one of those joy years so I’m soaking it all in.
Last weekend I watched the lush movie version of A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. A solid film featuring excellent cinematography, sets, ghosts, and textures. I’ve watched this film before but this time I felt more receptive. Something clicked. Maybe it’s the intense healing I’ve been doing since my accident last fall, paired with my lifeline.
The movie inspired me to further reflect on a topic I’ve been pondering for the past few months, which is the fine art of giving and receiving, not necessarily in that order.
As Scrooge learns to open his heart and receive, he has to first realize the generous and giving nature of everyone all around him. Once he receives their goodness it inspires him to give in turn.
As we go about the season making sure all of our loved ones feel good about the giving we do, allow me to extend an invitation to reflect on the art of how we receive.
When I was at my lowest low of my injury I was completely vulnerable as never before. I had to rely on the people closest to me, my hospital team and people I’ve never met to take really good care of me.
For the first time in my adult life, I had to really learn how to receive.
It sounds simple right?
No no no. Not for me at least. You see I’ve had this long held belief that my work in the world is to be of service, and that as a strong able bodied human I am here to serve and care for others primarily, then myself after everyone else is cared for.
In the early days and weeks that I was completely immobile I was receiving care in the most basic and necessary ways. Simple things like eating food others had prepared for me. Taking in their nourishment, realizing what an act of love it is when people show up to do something as basic as feed you. Savoring the bites. I learned to take in and receive numerous acts of kindness that others were bestowing upon me. Cleaning my house, doing my laundry, bringing in the mail, buying groceries.
I learned over a slow period of time that receiving acts of care was a way to honor life itself. It helped me understand and deepen my appreciation for my own my good fortune.
Receiving is another form of yoga as it demands a high level of sensitivity , awareness and skill. We are learning to recognize that we’re being offered a gift whether it’s a meal, a compliment, a teaching, a loving gesture or a blessing from the invisible realms.
Then we need to cultivate stillness and openness so that we can take it in.
Next we need to appreciate it, to value it, or at least to value the giver’s intention.
Finally we want to feel that we deserve it, that the gift is neither too big, too small or too out of line with who we are.
The word receive comes from the latin word, recipere, which means to take back.
It implies that what we receive is already ours in the sense that we deserve it, that it completes something within us, or simply that we’ve attracted it by the nature of our being.
This holiday season perhaps you can be inspired to bring your awareness to the gentle art of receiving.
Let yourself slow down a bit and cultivate presence when you’re being offered a gift. Whether it’s a kind word, gesture or literal gift, begin by noticing your state of mind. If you’re feeling distracted or disconnected take a quick break with this simple practice to bring you back to the moment.
Take a deep breath and notice where it lands in your body. Then feel the sensations of the breath meeting your inner body.
Now you can say to yourself:
This is the perfect time. Right now.
This is the perfect place. Right here.
This is the perfect person.
This is the perfect gift.
I am the perfect person to receive it.
The first three thoughts will bring you into the present. The last two thoughts bring you home to yourself where you can admire and appreciate the gift with sincerity.
Another deep breath, slow exhale will bring you back to center.
I wish you all the goodness life contains over the coming days.
I’m right there with you in spirit.
Thank you for being here with me!
Italy Retreats in 2019!
As always, practice loving kindness amorevolezza this season.
(take good care)