The holidays are a time focused around the idea of giving. We give gifts, thanks, our time, love, and all manner of tasty baked goods to those we know (and don't know), love, and admire.
It's gorgeous isn't it? The collective spirit of giving flows through everything this time of year. We see it on television, hear it on the radio, we feel it in our workplaces, homes, and communities. But how much of it do we actually receive?
One of the gifts of yoga and Ayurveda is awareness. And this year, I've become very aware of the fact that I'm pretty crap at receiving.
I'm sure I'm not alone. For those of us who are diehard givers, who have trouble receiving compliments, kindness, offers of help and support, this time of year can get a little uncomfortable. And this kind of receiving is only the beginning.
The Secret to Having It All
Truth is holidays, and life, are chock full of fun, adventure, love, joy and a million and one opportunities to connect. These experiences are our fuel. They are what gives us juice.
If we can fully receive them, open ourselves up to them with wild abandon, and invite them in without judgment, criticism, or expectation. But I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: receiving doesn't always come naturally.
All too often, receiving comes with baggage like guilt, perceptions of weakness, and a lack of control. Receiving, whether it's a gift, a compliment, or the present moment, is a test of our willingness to be vulnerable.
And like yoga, it's a practice that requires focus, patience, and the ability to embrace whatever comes.
Mastering the Art of Receiving
In my experience there are two simple practices to make receiving a little easier and a lot more enjoyable.
Breath awareness allows you to be in the moment, creating clarity around what's there to be received and highlighting any resistance that might be there too. A good exhale is a great way to bust through any resistance you're feeling in the mind or body.
2. See the gift in everything.
The idea here is to receive things in the spirit with which they're given. This one can be a bit of a challenge, though, because we judge everything, don't we?
That holiday sweater from mom, rain that ruins our barbecue, that parking ticket, even random acts of kindness from co-workers or perfect strangers—all are gifts to be received in the spirit of love, compassion, abundance, or perhaps a lesson that we need to learn. Embracing this is a gift in itself.
What Everybody's Getting for Christmas
According to Ayurveda, who we are is a combination of the constantly shifting energies of vata (movement and creativity), pitta (intensity and focused action), and kapha (stillness and nurturing).
Creating our own personal picture of health and happiness is a matter of balancing these energies in the body and mind.
Everything we come into contact with, including foods, activities, and ways of being have the potential to affect the harmony of the doshas.
But one thing that balances them all is time in the presence of a supportive, loving, and inspiring community. These environments pull for our success and wellbeing. They're a gift to the spirit, the key ingredient in the recipe for bliss. They're the heart of the holidays and they exist to be received.
This holiday season, throw your arms, heart, and soul wide open, and welcome the spirit of receiving. Let it sink in and invite it to stick around a while. Consider how receiving might be the best thing you can do for your body.
Consider what opening your heart and mind to receiving can do for your health, relationships, and point of view. And last, but certainly not least, consider that receiving all the goodness of the season and those you spend it with might be the best gift you could give to yourself and the world.