Walking through Central Park one morning, the sound of the birds, the slow but steady haze of green emerging on the trees, the emerging daffodils and other spring flowers all offered gifts that are part of the park’s waking up to a new season. As I walked, I took in the sounds, smells, and visual delight of this emerging season and the experience got me to thinking about the process of receiving.
Receiving is an active, reciprocal process. It acknowledges that something has been given and recognizes that the act of receiving can be an expression of generosity that can enhance this experience. I often invite people to notice their style of receiving. For example, when they sit down on a chair and receive the support available, do they actively take in the support that is present? Do they engage the reciprocal process of receiving what is offered with awareness? This may apply to any kind of receiving: support, friendship, kindness, much-needed food, clothing, or shelter, a smile—whatever is offered. How would you answer these questions?
I have no idea if Central Park, and all that lives there, is at all aware of my deep gratitude when I receive its beauty but, for me, because the process is reciprocal, it is a dynamic part of my relationship with the park and with the world around me. Receiving generously allows me to be more open to what is given, to practice not taking for granted the gifts that come my way. It is a perspective that enriches my sense of connection to the world and nurtures the sense of oneness that I am committed to engaging as the filter through which I live my everyday life.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore your style of receiving, to notice if you receive gifts—large and small—generously, or if you either tend to take for granted the gifts inherent in daily life or forget to experience or express gratitude. For this practice, pay attention to your body and notice if your heart is open when you receive gifts from your environment, from people around you, from anywhere and anyone.
I remember when, one morning when I was grouchy about something, one of the doormen in my building said, in passing, “Hey, you woke up today. That makes it a good day!” His comment was like a wake-up all and, since then, I’ve met each morning with gratitude for receiving another new day of living, letting in the gift of waking up. Notice your experience when active receiving is focused on something this basic that many of us take for granted.
As with all these practices, there’s really no right way to do this one. Instead, it’s an opportunity to explore more deeply your relationship with receiving. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move through and move on.