The Ebb and Flow of Giving and Receiving

On the subtlest level, we’re in a constant state of giving and receiving. If we look to nature, we see that giving and receiving are the basic characteristics of all life forms. Humans breathe in (receive) air, process the oxygen, then give out carbon dioxide. Plants then receive carbon dioxide, process it, then give out oxygen in return. We take in food, water, elements, and information while simultaneously giving out liquids, solids, gasses, moments, sounds, and thoughts. It’s a constant relationship we’re in with our environment.

To be healthy means to be part of our environment in an open and fluid way. Each moment that we rest in mindful awareness, we’re training ourselves to allow life to arise. This is what meditation is often used to improve: to be in a relaxed flow of receiving and letting go.

Mindfulness is the quality of awareness that does not interfere, but rather, becomes that flow of being presence and wakeful in the midst of it. As we study the mind further we see it has two states: active and receptive.

1. Active Recognition (receiving)

In an active way, when experience is happening our practice is to recognize so we can connect to what’s happening. We gain more understanding through an active engagement with the experience.

2. Receptive Compassion (giving)

When our mind is being receptive, we become accepting and inclusive towards an experience.

Actively recognizing and being receptively open are interdependent. You can’t recognize what’s going on if you’re busy interfering and pushing it away. It requires acceptance and allowing to see clearly what’s there. Just the same, we can’t allow and accept an experience unless we know what it is. As an example, we can't establish intimate relationships until we’ve first connected with who the other being is.

Maintaining this receptive present awareness is not easy. Especially since we're conditioned to want things one way and then fear they’re going to be another way. This leap into existence, moment after moment, makes it quite difficult to be allowing. This is why it’s hard to receive what’s going on when we’re facing pain or fear. Similarly, it’s hard to give out unconditionally love when we’re always wanting things to be our way.

Opening up to the natural flow of giving and receiving.
Living and loving more fully begins by allowing yourself to be as you are. Recognize your life as it is, see it clearly. Let go of all else and respond to that with compassion and love. We are boundless connected beings that don’t require the amount of controlling we think we ought to.

Start by accepting where you are now

We can't grow if we keep repeating the same old way. And the only way we can connect with our heart is by starting where we are. By relating to where we are and what's most vulnerable, we open to a more free, alive and spacious sense of being.

Whatever arises and is given to you, welcome it. As we open to receive something, we soon find that there’s always more. Live always offers opportunities to open and accept more than we thought we ever would. Yet there’s an enormous joy and satisfaction in openly discovering there’s enough room to accept whatever is going to happen. And if it’s going to happen anyway, why do anything different than accept? This even applies with things we may not necessary want to accept.

Thomas Carlisle puts it well when trying to relate with the hard stuff:

"It is good to use best china the most genuine goblets the oldest lace tablecloth. There's a risk, of course, every time you use anything or anyone shares an inmost moment, or a fragile cup of revelation. But not to touch, not to handle, the artifacts of being human- is the quiet crash, the deadly catastrophe where nothing is enjoyed or broken or spilled or spoken, or stained, or mended - where nothing is ever lived, loved, laughed over, wept over, where nothing is ever lost, or found."

Each moment that we open and receive is a moment where we cultivate this moment of aliveness, presence, and deep compassion.

The relationship of giving and receiving

Maharaj, author of I Am That, beautifully explains the joy derived from the interconnected process of giving and receiving:

If you look at yourself in your moments of pleasure or pain, you will invariably find that it is not the thing in itself that is pleasant or painful, but the situation of which it is a part. Pleasure lies in the relationship between the enjoyer and the enjoyed. And the essence of it is acceptance. Whatever may be the situation, if it is acceptable, it is pleasant. If it is not acceptable, it is painful. What makes it acceptable is not important; the cause may be physical, or psychological, or untraceable; acceptance is the decisive factor. Obversely, suffering is due to non-acceptance.

–Nisargadatta Maharaj

Giving and Receiving Breathing Exercise

Breathing in, sense aliveness—whether your pressing, squeezing, smelling, absorbing—invite in life.

Breathing out, let go as if you're dissolving with your breathe into the vast sky.

Breathing in, absorb your environment and it's constraints.

Breathing out, visually sense space all around you.

Breathing in, touch what's here, affecting you.

Breathing out, listen and sense vastness.

Breathing in, feel where you're vulnerable.

Breathing out, feel that space permeating with love.

Breathing in, receive and yield to your current emotions.

Breathing out, release and let go of these emotions.

Breathing in, receiving this life.

Breathing out, offering your love.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to continue breathing in and out as you focus on receiving and giving current mental and physical sensations.

Giving and Receiving with Joy Through the Holidays

Joyous energy infuses winter’s air. The promise of precious time with family and friends ensue. The essence of Christmas unwraps our heart to flutter open and embrace the jubilant act of gracious giving and loving forgiveness. Love is a gift you receive by giving selflessly without ownership, attachment or expectation. The more you give the more you get. It is the key to making a difference, to lead an empowered meaningful life. The love we give expands within ourselves and beyond without measure, which harnesses the endless dynamic flow of universal energy that unites all. Tis the season of giving and receiving that is nigh. Let us put Christmas in our hearts and celebrate our true spirit, ourselves and each other.