How do you receive?

How do you receive?

two hands open and overlapping one another to hold a pink flower bud

I was laying on the massage table, like linguine covered in olive oil. My arms, legs, and back were soft and calm, having been gently pressed and lengthened by my massage dude. He asked me, “How good are you at receiving?”

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He’s the kind of masseuse that listens to your body. He will say, ‘your legs are tired of walking the wrong path,’ or sometimes will ask me to talk about something that’s bothering me, to see which parts of my body move, twitch, or gain/lose blood flow. More than once, he’s asked me to talk about something important or meaningful, place my slippery hand over my heart, and listen to myself. It sounds different when my hand is cupped around my own heart, laying on the table. He knows this.

::: ::: ::: :::

So, he asked me about my capacity to receive. And I sputtered a bit, trying to think and speak at the same time. “I don’t know,” I said. “I receive well from my husband and kids. I receive well from books and close friends.” But that’s where my answers kinda puttered out. It became obvious in the silence: I’m not that great at receiving.

After the massage, as I was driving home, I thought about it more. I tend to take things deeply, so I was worried this was another lesson from Life that was gonna work me over on a spiritual level. I’m an introvert and an INFJ (which is one of those extroverted introverts) and I am protective of my space and energy. I’m also independent-minded- I ask for what I want. And it’s not like I feel as though I’m not getting what I want or need, it’s not like I’m not receiving. But what I realized was that I receive more easily from those I trust.

The fact is, I just don’t trust a lot of people to hang out with the deepest parts of myself- so I hold people at arms length. Trust is where the capacity to receive comes from, because that door of receptivity has to be open inside me and it takes a lot of trust to get that door open. So I miss receiving from people, places, and experiences that I trust less, because they reside at other levels of myself.



I also realized that I didn’t have a good sense of how it felt in my body to receive. What is the actual movement of muscles and energy and emotions when I receive something? I didn’t really know.

One thing I did know what that I was not going to have an easy time receiving from others if I didn’t know how to receive from myself, if I didn’t even know what ‘receive’ felt like in my body. So, I began to play and experiment with receiving.

When my husband kissed me, I paid attention- was I truly receiving it, or was I just…kind of…there? Because there is a difference and we all feel it. I laid on the bed one morning and made myself all warm and comfy and gently applied lotion to the rough parts of my body. I practiced what it felt like to receive from myself.  When my daughter brought me a half-eaten chocolate (it was so good! she wanted to share), I smiled and paid attention to what receiving felt like.

And I’m sure you never would guess this, but receiving is kinda w-e-i-r-d if you’ve never really paid attention to it before. I’m not going to describe what it’s like for me, but I just want to ask: do you know what receiving feels like to you?

Most of us are so busy (actually, I don’t know anyone who isn’t busy, okay?) that we get caught up in habits. Habits of mind, habits of body, habits of heart. And we might be missing the kinds of things that, if we noticed and received them, would give us more nourishment, at all levels.

I suppose that is what I found, that once I figured out what receiving felt like, it gave me nourishment. Fuel and energy to keep me buoyant and feeling a bit more myself. It wasn’t just people I began to receive from, either. It was music, beautiful pictures, words that hit home. I let them in the door of trust so I could receive them fully.

Now, this is not to say that I’ve suddenly become all trusting and am receiving every-which-way from people I have different levels of trust with. No. People beyond family and close friends are further down my list for now. But to practice receiving- at least now I know what it feels like. And I can open that door when I want.



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