HeartStart to Your Week:
The Gift of Receiving
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By my mid twenties I had pretty much figured out that giving was where it was at, not taking. I gave all my extra cash away to charity, always allowed people to get in front of me in line, asked people to send Christmas and birthday gifts to starving children in Africa. I had built a life around giving, and an ego to go with it. I thought I was pretty hot stuff because I was a "giver." However, this generosity palace I had built was not all it was cracked up to be. I would cry myself to sleep at night because I'd never had a boyfriend, and was jealous of the colorful letters my dorm mates received from their friends back home. No one sent me playful gifts and colorful envelopes. I could not understand why no one seemed to love me- after all, I was such a "giving" person. It seemed like people who did not care for other's half as much as I did received so much more. In my quiet jealousy, I judged other people as selfish in the name of my "generosity."
Generosity and giving were formulas I lived by, rather than ways of life. Feeling more and more alienated, I sat in my dorm room by myself one night depressed and dejected, and the formula kicked in. "I'll give something away! Then I'll feel better!" I started walking through the dorm room halls giving away all my stuffed animals. It's humorous to think back on it now, but at the time it was really tragic. People looked at me like I was crazy. I am sure they could feel my desperation to connect, and the fact that my "gifts" were really a desperate attempt to get friendship. It was repulsive, and sad. I returned to my room in despair.
Shortly after that, I found myself in a class on Jewish Mysticism- a Beginner Kabbalah Class. I was drawn there because my classmates that had attended the class had learned that sharing was the key to life. I think that in my mind I thought I might find some real kindred spirits there- people in alignment with my generosity formula. But I was surprised by what I actually found! The word "Kabbalah" means "to receive." The whole body of Jewish mysticism, based on giving back to the world, is called "To receive!" How could that be? Well, it never occurred to me that receiving itself is a gift, and that receiving is different than taking.
The class started off with a game. Each one of us had five taper candles. Our task was to give them all away, and the person with the least number of candles when the teacher called the end of the game would win. "Start!" shouted the teacher. It was mayhem. We were all trying to give our candles away, but no one would take any. With no one willing to receive, no one could win. I started to see, little by little, how aggressive I had been in my formula of giving, and how it had been more about building my self image as a "giving" person than it had been about genuinely giving from the heart. I saw that my giving was failing, because I was not willing to receive. It was no wonder that people did not send me nice gifts, or cards! I had a closet where all my gifts went, to be redistributed as gifts to someone else in the name of being a "giver." When people gave me cards, if they did not write on the left side I would cut the picture side out and reuse it to give to someone else. When people offered to help me, I always declined, not wanting to be a burden or put anyone out of their way. I saw in this one game that in my failure to receive, I had failed to give my friends the gift and the satisfaction of giving.
At the time I was a student of Oriental as well as western medicine. In my anatomy and physiology class we were studying the heart, and it struck me that the heart (which is the most "giving" organ in that it puts out 9x the energy it takes in- no mechanical engineer has ever been able to replicate its efficiency!), always oscillates between giving and receiving. When it contracts, it pumps blood outward to the whole body, and when it expands, it receives blood back to nourish itself. I had only been pulsing one direction! No wonder it was not working! A heart that fails to receive blood back is a heart that ends up in a heart attack!
In my Chinese Medical Theory class, I found out that the energy flow in our bodies goes up and in to the left and down and out the right. This did not surprise me. I was right handed, and did everything with my right side. The giving side. My left side, on the other hand, was much weaker, riddled with broken bones and old injuries. My right side had been trying to do it all and my left side was a mess.
When I recognized this imbalance, I decided I needed to make some changes right away. It was not as easy as it sounds! How do you suddenly start receiving when your life long habit is to give?
Well, I listened deeply to my heart, using the Freeze Frame tool that we teach in the Beginner HeartMath Webinar. My heart had two suggestions for me. One, it nudged me to put together a care package for myself, and invite friends and clients that wanted to participate to send me wrapped gifts to include by a certain date. I called them (that was hard!) to tell them that I saw that I had not been receiving enough, and if they would like they could help me to heal that by sending things to go into this package to myself. I also went shopping, for special little gifts which I wrapped as if I was making a package for someone that I loved. I was amazed at the response!
The deadline arrived. Everyone that I called sent something! Everyone! It brings tears to my eyes and chills to my hair follicles to write that now! Everything except for the baby orange tree one of my clients delivered was laid out on my living room floor to go in the postage box for shipping. One by one I carefully placed each gift in bubble wrap and gave it a safe place for the journey back to me. The doorbell rang in the middle of packing it all up.
Ryan, a young man that had been a tutorial student of mine at school had arrived to bring back some books and supplies. I was caught in the act of sending a package to myself! How embarrassing! I told him sheepishly what I was doing, and my freckled face turned as red with embarrassment as the hair on my head. "I think this is terrific!" he said. Can I help you pack up the box? "Ok…"
"What's this?" he asked. It was a card that I had written to myself (on both sides!) as a gift certificate to take myself on a date to the beautiful Huntington Garden and Library, one of my favorite places on earth. They have an English Tea room there, and I had always wanted to go have high tea and crumpets in the rose garden. "Oh! How cool!" he said, as he gently tucked the card in my gift box…Off to the post office to mail a package, for the first time in my life, to myself!
The second thing my heart told me to do was to fall in love with myself. Well how in the world do you do that? I used a HeartMath tool we teach in the Beginner HeartMath Webinar called a "Heart Lock-In" and started listing things about myself that I could appreciate. As I did, I started to pretend that I was my own lover. The same way I thought I would eagerly anticipate a date with someone I loved, I lay in bed at night thinking, "Tomorrow I get to spend the whole day with me! My beautiful hair, my fun sense of humor, my adventurous playful spirit! I cannot wait!" Wow! I woke up with more energy than I'd had in years! People around me started to treat me differently too. Suddenly I was getting invited places, and I was a lot more fun to be with. I had dropped the formula of being a giving person and started celebrating receiving the greatness in others. It was so much more fun!
The day finally arrived. My package came in the mail. I gleefully opened up an orange silk purse, a coffee mug with sayings on it like, "How will I nurture myself today?" beautiful jewelry and notepads. As I came to my own gifts to myself I savored them equally even though I already knew what they were- but wait! I didn't! Something fell out of the gift card I had written to take myself to the Huntington Garden! What was it?
There, in my lap, was a $100 bill. As I opened the card, I saw that Ryan had written in it, "If you would like someone to come with you on your date to the gardens, call me! I have wanted to take you out for a long time." (!!)
Little did I know, in my giving oblivion, Ryan had his eye on me for over a year but there was never an opening for me to let it in. I was always tutoring him and then running off to volunteer somewhere before we had a chance to talk. Well, needless to say, Ryan and I went to the library together and became boyfriend and girlfriend for many years! He was so grateful that I finally started receiving! My receiving and my self love was a gift to him, because it allowed his gifts and his love a place to shine through. It is in receiving our greatest joy that we gift the greatest gifts to others. HeartMath science shows us that our truest states of joy create order in our hearts that radiates order outward to the world around us- our true gift.
As you spend the coming days with family and friends, or just with yourself, give everyone around you the gift of receiving the best of who they are, and the gift of self love that allows their love in. Your heart can show you how!
Tune in to tonight's HeartStart call to find out more!
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