Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Art of Giving and Receiving

As we’ve learned the last few weeks, some of the ways Laskmi’s presence is experienced is as internal abundance and gratitude. The definition of gratitude is not only to feel thankful, but also the desire to give back, to bless others, and this is also one of Lakshmi’s gifts.  She is there in our giving and receiving when they are in balance. 
My husband is in an industry where often different companies will offer “Incentive Programs” to the sales force as a method to drive business.  There is a well-known industry story from years back about a beloved Administrative Assistant who wanted to take her niece on a vacation.  She was patiently and diligently saving what little extra money she had each month.  Some of the upper management got wind of her ambition and decided to, unbeknownst to her, create a program to help send her on her way.  The sales force and customers felt so good about this that they all participated generously and willingly.  Within a month they had raised enough to send her, her sister and her niece on a beautiful trip.  When she was presented with the gift everyone that participated was so proud and happy. She got her vacation, the sales force and the company offering the incentive had a great month – everybody involved won on every level.

This is a perfect example of how when we give we open up channels to also receive.  If you can offer that which you want the most to someone else, it often works to bring the same to you.  Many of us are inherent givers, because honestly it is almost always easier to give than to receive.  But are we opening ourselves up to receive in the same way?

Consider this: all of us are “getting” stuff all the time, but are we really receiving?  It’s a completely different thing.  To receive requires grace, vulnerability and openness of mind and heart.  My husband is constantly frustrated with my utter inability to accept, well, pretty much anything graciously, whether it be a compliment, a gift, or an offer of help.  It is hard to open ourselves up that way!   Yet when we put ourselves in the seat of acceptance of whatever is being offered, we offer the giver the gift of allowing themselves to express their love and appreciation.  To shun that can be upsetting and hurtful to those who making a heartfelt offering.

Think of it this way – have you ever given someone a gift that they have obviously (even quietly so) been unhappy with?  Maybe they were expecting something else, maybe they just felt like they didn’t deserve it, maybe they were just being rude and ungrateful – the reason doesn’t really matter.  Do you remember what it felt like?  Kinda crappy.  That’s what I’m talking about.

As we know, balance in all things is the key to gracious and mindful living.  When we give too much we become depleted, resentful, undernourished.  When we receive too much without giving back we become narcissistic, arrogant, and entitled (this includes “getting stuff” without really receiving in a heartfelt way).   Sally Kempton: “When you can allow yourself to receive with the feeling that you deserve the gifts of life and then give with the feeling that others deserve them also, you find yourself in the “auspicious state of mind” where shree is just flowing through you.”

When you find the balance between opening up to receive what is offered, and offering back all you are able to, you connect with your family, friends, community and environment in a profound way and with that comes a feeling of deep fulfillment.  

Off the mat: 
An exercise from Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton:

What would you like to receive more of now?  Reflect on all areas of your life – spiritual experience, love, success in your career, fun, health, money.  Focus on one thing. Ask yourself how your life would specifically benefit from receiving this?  How would others or the world benefit from it?   How are you blocking it?

Now consider what gifts you have to give, what you yourself have to offer.   How can you offer a gift or blessing as an exchange for what you want to receive?  
What specific thing(s) can you do today or this week to make this offering and open up the Lakshmi channels of giving and receiving?  How can you help someone else to receive the gift that you desire?   When we cultivate generosity of spirit we invite more of the same back to ourselves.  And everybody wins!

On the Mat: 
In my classes this week we worked deeply with the breath, the pulsation of which mirrors the pulsation of giving and receiving in our lives.  With each inhale we receive the gift of life, of prana, of breath.  With each exhale we can offer our unique energy, life-force and essence back to the universe.  We worked with the pulsation of Muscular Energy (receiving energy) and Organic Energy (giving energy), the balance of which is needed to work into balancing poses of all kinds. 

For the Anusara Junkies:
Open To Grace: 
Fill up with breath and fill up with what it is you wish to receive more of in your life.  Invite it in by opening up space inside to let it move into you.

Muscular Energy: (related to receiving)
Hug into what you want more of in your life – receive, receive, receive because you deserve it!
Draw in to (the focal point from the foundation) what you wish to invite more of into your life.
The more the muscles tone, the more strength and integrity the bones receive.
What is it you want for your life right now?  How much do you want what you want?  Hug in that much!

Inner Spiral: 
Move the sit bones back and apart and make space for what you want to invite in.  Everything you want is available to you, sometimes its just a matter of opening up to what is already there.

Outer Spiral:
Anchor your intention and your tailbone in whatever it is you want to receive.    
As your low belly tones and engages, solidify your resolve to manifest in your life what you want for yourself.

Organic Energy: (related to giving)
Offer, offer, offer wildly and without abandon the gifts you have to give, because everyone else deserves it too!
Offer energetically what you have to share with those in the room and beyond.
Offer blessings with every cell through the form of your pose.
How grateful are you for all that you have?  Energetically offer back out that much.