The Delicate Balance of Giving and Receiving

Last week I got sick.

Which was annoying, more than anything else, as this is the fourth time in a calendar year I’ve found myself groggy, sniffly, throat achey and body soreness – and not from too much yoga or squats, but just from life. I was pretty peeved, but it was a good wakeup call to acknowledge how crazy my work schedule is, and how I try to do everything without giving myself time to settle.

The cure for sickness: time in nature. 

Remember Lakshmi? The goddess of beauty, abundance, radiance and nurturing? Yes, I’m still cultivating her. Daily I’m chanting her mantras (and my skin is getting more clear… Was that you too, Lakshmi?), and daily I’m trying to remind myself to be more compassionate. I forget sometimes that I need to extend this compassion to myself.

It’s the balance that Lakshmi manifests. Without receiving, you feel dry and undernourished. Without giving, you become narcissistic, arrogant, and entitled. 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 what one of my teachers called the auspicious state of mind, the state where shri is simply flowing through you. You feel Lakshmi’s presence as internal abundance and also as gratitude and as the desire to bless others. It’s then that you can begin to feel Lakshmi’s energy as your own.          (From Awakening Shakti)

The breath is the most natural reminder of this balance that I can think of. With breath, we receive and we give. We fill ourselves up with the nurturing oxygen, fueling our body and our tissues and our brain. And we give out carbon dioxide, nurturing the plants, the trees, and together we co-create fresh air and the cycle of life.

What are you feeling lately? Are you dry and undernourished? Are you narcissistic and entitled?

If I’m being totally honest with myself, lately it’s a little bit of both for me.

I’m not giving enough and I’m not receiving enough.

So where does this cycle end?

It ends with us. It ends with me.

Just this weekend I had a great chat with a fellow teacher during the Yamas and Niyamas workshop with Deborah Adele (more on that later… I might do a whole blog post series on them), and she acknowledged my struggles and had some helpful hints and tips to work things out.

Abundance. It’s kind of a hot topic word these days, and it seems like everyone runs around talking about abundance and cultivating it and manifesting it, and all we need to do to get it is have this mentality.

Most of us are stuck in the “scarcity” mentality. This sickness for me was a wakeup call. For the past two years, I’ve been trying to whittle down my schedule to only teaching in five or less locations, and I’ve thus far been unsuccessful at doing that. This year, I think it’s non-negotiable.

So – what do you need?

This exercise is also from Awakening Shakti, which I highly recommend… Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you need more of in your life? Write it down. Be detailed.

For each of these gifts, also write down:

  • Why do I want this?
  • How would I benefit from it?
  • How would others or the world benefit from it?
  • In what ways am I blocking myself from receiving more in this area of my life?

And then, consider:

  • How can you offer the gifts you want to receive as a gift or as a blessing?

So often, when we give away what we’re most seeking to receive, it comes back to us.

I see this so often in my relationship with my husband. When I want understanding and compassion from him, it doesn’t come from when I yell at him to understand me or to JUST BE COMPASSIONATE, DAMMIT, even if he really deserves to be yelled at in that way. When I give to Keith what I need: listening, compassion, understanding, it is returned back to me.

This is not the easiest call to action, no, and if we were all great at this we wouldn’t have the problems that we have. But it’s a great start, a great mindfulness practice, and a wonderful way to balance your giving and receiving.

Happy Monday, beautiful friends.


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