The other day I had the opportunity to reflect on receiving... for like the millionth time. I was creating content for my Body Wisdom Healing Intensive, Returning to Center... so I had to stick with it even when I couldn't figure out what to say about it. I struggle so much with the concept of receiving.
It's the worst sort of circle... the one where I start with a good intention... receiving happiness, or joy, or a compliment, or really anything at all that feels good... and then I hit resistance. Instead of stepping back and questioning resistance I tend to fight with it... and eventually I lose and end up with my head in my hands wondering how broken you have to be to push away happiness/joy/pleasure.
And then... the Muse opened a channel... and there it was. Receiving isn't easy because PARTS of it aren't easy. Check this out...
Maybe receiving isn't one thing... but many things. Maybe, if I looked at it as separate types of receiving I could find my way. (Note: these are not mutually exclusive categories, and this is a question-posing exercise... I don't have answers... so... um... only keep reading if you are cool with that.)
1. Social: We are interact with others through the giving and receiving of attention. It includes chatting about the weather, social niceties, and small talk.
2. Emotional: This is our sense of connection with others... it can come from social receiving, but includes the sense that we are not alone, that we can see our kindred spirits in others.
3. Mental: This is the transfer of knowledge or information. Generally this happens within our institutions... and it reinforces an established hierarchy. Someone has the knowledge or information and imparts it to someone who does not have it.
4. Spiritual: Our relationship with ourselves and our connection to all other living beings, including that which is bigger than us. The details of HOW you do this is unimportant in this context, what IS important is THAT you have this.
Let me tell you why Spiritual Receiving is my saving grace...
Social, Emotional, and Mental receiving always involves another human being. This creates a situation in which fear is a constant companion. I'm going to venture that all of us have experienced some kind of betrayal, question of our worthiness, or general trauma in these kinds of interactions. If someone else is involved, we simply cannot control the situation such that we can always trust it. It makes receiving, an act of trust, very difficult if there is fear and protection involved.
There is nothing wrong with fear, or protection. Both, when utilized at the appropriate times keep us safe. If we're new to receiving, though, they also keep us from being able to receive.
And then there's Spiritual Receiving. Thank all that is holy. Because this... this is where our receiving is all about us. We have complete control. There is not another unpredictable human in the mix with their own baggage to dump on us... it is just us and spirit.
You can find Spirit lots of places... and whatever gets you connected is perfect... nature, church, an altar, a candle, meditation, prayer... it's all good. Do you know where you find your sense of connection? Where is Spirit? How much time do you spend there?
To be clear, the goal is not to rid ourselves of fear and protection... but for them to stick to their job of blocking danger... not blocking our reception of some of the greatest gifts of connection in our lives.
I know this because this year I'm actively relying on my connection with Spirit to help me clear up confusion in my receiving through relationship. Yes, I said year. It's nowhere near over. It may be stretched before me for many years still. But it's so worth it. I have had such great joy from the connections I'm building as I reach into those vulnerable edges with someone I love and trust... and I come out happier, more connected, and more willing to play on that edge again.
Because I can receive from Spirit, in a way that is safe and trustworthy, I know that I can both have good receiving experiences AND move slowly in relationship with others. This is how I take tiny steps toward big healing. For me it's the easiest way.
Has someone ever given you a compliment and you brushed it off? Do people tell you that you are beautiful? That you are good at what you do? That you are a most excellent friend? That you are wise and wonderful?
And then do you feel super squirmy and uncomfortable?
And then do you walk away promptly forgetting that someone sees you as beautiful / wise / successful?
And later, do you find yourself thinking that everything would be great if you just got more acknowledgement or approval?
So yeah... that happened to me this morning. An amazingly wise and helpful friend admitted that knowing that I didn't hear when she told me about my own amazingness... that hurt her... that I didn't receive her verbal gift.
So... I'm making it up to her and the others that I realized I didn't hear. I went back through my memories and remembered their gifts of love, friendship, adoration, and attraction. I wrote a few of them on pieces of paper... and then I rolled around in them.
Yup... I really did that.
I realized that my inability to receive compliments has been life long. It was a learned behavior... and I've worked hard as an adult to break free of self-deprecating bullshit.
Today... I realized that I have come a long way, I can receive compliments on my appearance about 80% of the time... and about 50% of the time I can accept compliments about who I am.
So, pat on the back... this are much better stats than I had at 20. Or 30. And... I still have a ways to go.
Rolling around on the floor in paper shreds of compliments and acknowledgement is memorable... so I hope it will keep me listening (ahh... that again... seems like it's listening week).
What does it feel like when you receive acknowledgement or compliments?
And how much of your time do you spend wishing for compliments and acknowledgement?
Just curious ;)
Other than that, it’s a dedication… something I do with the long-term goal of a healthy and happy life in mind. It’s definitely not “the easy road”.
That said, I’ve become more used to it. It can still take me a long time to dedicate myself and address the issues that come up, but I do know how good I feel when I do listen… and listen deeply.
For me, healing is mostly about awareness. It’s about listening to my body, and acting on what I understand.
Listening, it’s the first catch. Almost always. I was taught not to listen to my body, but to push harder, do better, achieve more. And it meant that I was often overriding my body’s messages in order to appear stronger, more flexible, and better at something, than I truly was. I worried about being good enough. A lot.
Listening took on a new dimension of resistance as I realized that when I did listen, I often received messages that I had to take care of. You know, the message that you’re really, actually, sick and should stay home and take care of yourself. Or the message that the emotion I’ve been avoiding engaging is still there, settling into my body, making me feel queasy and uncomfortable.
Listening is only really easy when I hear what I want to hear.
A friend (Nissa at SoulCraft) recently encouraged her tribe to acknowledge all the wonderful things they accomplished in 2014. I made a list for myself, because my tendency is to look forward and plan... and dream... and be inspired (I'm a Leo after all). But I don't often reflect, or at least not on the successes. So, if you're curious, here are some of mine:
It's good for me to look back, to acknowledge where I spent my energy, and what I got in return. I get to breathe in the abundance of the seeds I sowed... some were impulsive... and I just went with it... others I planned in great detail. Acknowledging them feeds my soul in a way that I wouldn't have predicted before I wrote them down.
So, what about you? What did you accomplish this year? What feels successful about 2014? I'd encourage you to light a candle, and write your list down. It took me a long time to come up with this list. I'd forgotten some of them... and it wasn't until they were here together that I could feel how I cultivated a sense of myself this year.
For you, what about last year's work and play are you most proud of? What feeds you more than you expected when you did it? What do you want to build on more in 2015?
Funny things have happened lately... the self-doubts have been creeping in again. I'm hearing other people talk about how they're experiencing it too. Not sure if it's the celestial goings on... or just that we all cycle through moments of stability and ease, to some sort of discomfort, and back again. I think it's called "growth" or "life".
Some say that we go through our lives constantly being pulled toward our "true purpose". They say we came to this life for a reason... to share a gift of who we are. But how do we know if we're showing up in the fullness and richness of who we are? We only know it in the place in which doubt doesn't exist. Because as soon as we doubt, we don't know anymore.
How to grapple with doubt? Whoa. Not sure I have an answer for you there right now. I'll keep playing with it and I'll get back to you. I suspect, that doubt, like fear, just points to places that we carry conflicting ideas. Like... "should I go this way?" or "should I go that way?"... because one belief supports one way... and another belief supports another way.
I'm going to throw out the possibility that the way through doubt is to look for the beliefs that support each possibility... then consciously choose the direction that is supported by the belief structure that you most want to cultivate in your life. Choose... then shelf the doubt. Yes? No?
I do know that when I make choices with clarity, I'm much happier... it's easier to keep moving forward... the doubt is less likely to keep hounding me. I know WHY I choose what I do... and that makes me stand taller (which is no small feat! :) I'm not terribly tall!). What is doubt like for you? How do you deal with it? Are you in it right now? What's your next step?
Did you know that in medieval times books were written on animal skin? And there was a deep association between stories and skin?
This is the kind of stuff I absorb from listening to NPR on my way back from grocery shopping.
But it made me think... what stories are written on my skin? Stretch marks, wrinkles around my eyes, the freckles on my arms, callouses on my feet, and surgery scars... and the mind kindles the stories that go with them.
I have to be honest... that my body is often a difficult spot for me... I've always been highly critical of my body and it's caused a great deal of emotional pain. I even admit that recently I was thinking of having surgery... getting rid of this funny lump here... and the wideness there. I'm not sure how serious I was... and I certainly don't judge anyone who does this... but this idea of looking at my body as a story... it changed that a bit.
I see writ, not only in my skin, but my very cells... deep and archetypal stories... of hardship, triumph, valor, failure, and rebirth. Oh... the rebirth. How things can begin anew... even when we're sure the world is over. The gift of rebirth... the blessings of time continuing to march forward.
So, what is that story? It's a snapshot... a moment in time when one truth exists and we look at it from the perspective in which we are. And then, something else happens... and that story... it isn't what it used to be. I can't possibly express enough gratitude that life is as it is... always in motion... because some of the stories I conjured in the moment were painful. To be able to move out of pain... to grow out of it... means that we must be in the flow of life.
Surrender to the flow... that is how to ride life! When we hold and grasp, we try to keep things from shifting... which is their true nature... we resist life. We create tension and difficulty where surrender belongs.
I used to hate the word surrender. One of my best qualities is persistence... which used to feel in conflict with surrender... as if I should let things... even injustice... be as they are... and not stand for something better. However, I've come to see surrender differently in the last month or so. I see it as a way of dancing with something, not ignoring it. I see surrender as a flow, rather than trying to control the tide. And it is how I dance... with stories... with the events in my day... that determines what I lend my energy to... what I support and strive for... and always... that is to leave the world more true to itself than it was when I arrived.
Lots of people are setting New Year's Resolutions right now. That seems to me to be a rather depressing way to start the New Year. The attitude is that there's something wrong with you and you should change it... by sheer power of will.
What if, instead of deciding to move away from what we don't want, we chose a beacon... something that could draw us forward into the life we DO want? What if we could choose a word, just a single word, that could act as a reference point throughout the year... a simple, single word that could be a reminder of what we ARE working for?
Last year I chose the word 'EMERGE'. In December of 2012 I even kind of cocooned myself, gave myself some down time, knowing that 2013 would be full of transformation. I chose the butterfly as my year-long totem, and even bought myself a bracelet with a butterfly so that I could have a talisman for where I was headed. My intentions were to fully step into who I am, to step into myself fully and to express it through my life and my work. This was a full monty sort of transformation... and in the public realm I launched Luminous Muse Healing and put my face on my healing work. It was the birth of things that had incubated for years. And, like any birth story it's much different than I imagined it would be.
But here I am... facing 2014. Words have tumbled around in my mind for weeks... but I think that my word for this year found me two nights ago... STAND. It's time now to ground myself in the emergence. It's time to stand for what I do and who I am.. It's time to stand-for, stand-my-ground, and stand up! Ahead of me is a grounding, rooting, solidifying year where I want to fully anchor myself and Luminous Muse Healing. Though the emergence was amazing, parts of it felt out of my control (an illusion... but it felt true) and it felt momentous. I'm now looking forward to the stability that 2014 promises. I even already have my reminder talisman... these new earrings I just bought that were inspired by evergreen pinecones... and were made by a gorgeous friend-artist.
One of the ways I'm planning stability into my calendar is to offer a monthly group healing call... the 2014 Healing Circle. It is a no-strings-attached gift... just hop on the call... experience the transformation... percolate with it... and call back next month. If you want individualized support with it... there's an option for that too. Click here to sign up for the info for the free group healing call.
I hope that one way or another I will connect with you this year. Whether it's on the calls, working together, that we keep up on Facebook, we're friends in person... or whatever... I do intend to connect with others. Another meaning of STAND... as in a group of trees. I am intending to stand with my friends, colleagues, clients, and community this year in collaboration and connection. If you want to get information on gatherings and current mind-body health news consider joining my mailing list.
May you have a blessed and vibrant 2014!
Last week we went camping, which always provides me with an opportunity for one of my favorite practices. It's a simple practice... just being still in nature and noticing whatever comes to my attention. One morning at our campsite I watched this woodpecker. She (I don't know that it was a female... it's just my chosen pronoun for this story) moved progressively closer to me as I watched... Then she drummed a few times, looked at me, and she flew away. She was beautiful and poignant, and I felt connected to her in some way. She had my attention and I thought over what I know about woodpeckers and what I might be aware of in my life that was related to her.
For me woodpeckers signify voice... as each species has a characteristic drumming pattern. They are common in forests with mature trees, as they depend on the infrastructure of large trees for their nest holes and for food. Because they are birds, they also signify freedom. They are not bound to two dimensions... they can rise to great heights... among the canopy of the trees... and so are closer to spirit.
So, for me, woodpeckers bode well for having created a reliable infrastructure in life... and that whatever I am currently building is likely to have a strong foundation. I also see woodpecker as indicating a unique voice, a singular way of being in the world, that is also on a conscious well-built foundation. She reminds me to care for my unique expression of life in all ways... mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. She reminds me that this awareness... of myself from many facets, is what brings me closer to Source.
Thank you dear woodpecker! I am honored by our interaction and the gifts of awareness you bring!
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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