The balance of giving and receiving

Photo Niki De Saint Phalle on Pixabay

Photo Niki De Saint Phalle on Pixabay

Last week I wrote about my most recent health challenge and how difficult it has been. It has made me reflect on the balance between doing and being, which goes hand-in-hand with the balance between giving and receiving.

Balance is a requirement for a healthy, vibrant life.

This is where the Tao view of life is so helpful. Tao is what the Chinese see as the principle of all of life, containing within itself the balance of  Yin and Yang.  There must always be a balance between the two in order for there to be health, happiness and thriving. 

Yin is the feminine principle. It is also the principle of receiving, and of resting. Other aspects related to Yin are coldness, darkness/shadow, contraction and exhaling.

Yang is the masculine principle. It is also the principle of giving, and of doing. Other aspects related to Yang are heat/warmth, light, expansion and inhaling.

Inhale - Exhale

Giving - Receiving

Doing - Being

One would never think that Inhaling is more important than exhaling. But somehow we do ascribe more value to doing and giving, than we do to resting/being and receiving. 

In reality, one cannot happen without the other... at least not for long.

As I shared with you last week, I've increasingly become aware of my inherent wiring towards always being busy; towards "fixing" what isn't going well. 

There's huge imbalance in remaining there for the majority of your waking hours. As the years accumulate, this imbalance does a number on your health and your happiness.

Often, when we are doers and fixers, we are not that great at receiving.

We rarely ask for help or even know how to ask for it. In many cases we think we don't really need the help, or that there's no one who can help. Whatever it is we currently need is simply another solution we will seek to learn and implement for ourselves. 

I was recently speaking with a friend in Switzerland who says the Swiss may well be the worst at this. Everyone assumes that one's problems are only ours to resolve. Asking for help is out of the question.

But when you come to think of it, pure individualism, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance are a myth. 

Nobody built the space shuttle by themselves. No surgeon completes a heart transplant alone. Even a log cabin in the woods usually requires at least two people to build.

If you're like me, descending from generations of hard-workers and "self-made" men and women, you come with a genetic encodement for striving to solve things on your own. Asking for help doesn't even cross your mind. 

We cannot thrive if we don't know how to receive.

Receiving means allowing for things to come to us and welcoming them in, with grace, without shame, guilt, or apology. 

This means that not ALL solutions must come from trying harder, striving, and attempting multiple approaches. Sometimes the BEST solutions will come in stillness, meditation and not trying at all. 

I hear that athletes often have the biggest breakthroughs in performance after a good, long rest and visualization of the outcome they want. 

I am personally learning how to cease to do. 

I am exploring what it's like to not keep myself busy all day and allow myself to experiment with the flow of leisure and what my heart feels like doing.

It's HARD.

The voice of judgment often chimes in to say I'm being irresponsible. I thank it, as I know it's a voice that's trying to keep me safe. I also know it's a voice from the past who only knows one way of doing things... and that way is no longer serving me. 

I am heeding the call of this relatively minor health crash I've had. I certainly do not want to welcome an even bigger crash if I fail to ignore this one.

Receiving requires faith.

It requires that we put down all of our solutions and all of our thinking. It requires that we stop, and simply create the conditions that allow us to receive... openness, stillness,  humility, and the vulnerability of acknowledging what we need.

Receiving is like the exhale... it's a letting go of all effort. It's a surrendering. It's a dropping of one's shoulders and of all effort. 

As you can see, I am writing this for myself as I am learning to move more deeply into being and receiving, so I can balance my life and my health. My hope is that you too are somewhat afflicted with the excess-doing virus that has so massively spread through our culture. 

Some of my recent practices in being and receiving include:

  • Taking breaks, napping and going for aimless strolls (not power walks)
  • Doing NOTHING
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Asking for help and receiving it
  • Not working more than 4-5 hours a day (at most, on the days I'm working)
  • Meditating 
  • Playing, dancing, singing, laughing, being silly...
  • Treating all tasks as equally important ~ whether it's a work-related task, or making a pretty box for my niece's Christmas present, or sweeping my kitchen floor.
  • Allowing what makes me most joyful in the moment to guide my decision for what I am meant to do next... rather than my to-do list.

I don't know where this will take me, but I am willing to find out. I refuse to continue putting myself through the grind in which I lived for at least 20+ years.

I'll keep sharing with you what I'm learning as I continue on my own journey of growing and thriving.

After all, as a dear friend said to me a couple of months ago, "you can't very well have a brand called "Thrive with Morella" if you're not thriving."  Ouch, and thank you. I was doing so well in so many ways, but it was also clearly out of balance. It's time to correct that by not doing.

Perfect timing, as winter is indeed the best time to slow down and hibernate. I invite you to join me.