A few weeks ago, I went to my spinal care practitioner and asked her to check some pain I’ve been having in my wrist. After completing some physical adjustments to my arm, she said, “Remember to receive. You don’t need to push all the time. Just receive.”
Receiving is not something I’ve historically been great at, but I’m inspired to do more of it. That’s why I was particularly inspired by the following article by a woman leader in my community. I think you’ll be inspired too by her vulnerability and willingness to receive, when she has always been the “strong” one.
Christie and I talk and teach often about The Art of Receiving. Most of us tend to be great givers, but we struggle with receiving. Christie and I had just decided this would be the playshop we would be holding for our travel tribe on this trip-little did we both know how we would personally be in the need to receive on this trip!
We were coming off an amazing, deeply spiritual sunrise ceremony on the sacred Ganges River. I was in an open, loving, peaceful state as we entered the streets of Varanasi, where my senses were overtaken by the sheer magnitude of people, sounds, uncontrolled traffic speeding within inches of us, the unrelenting pace and push of the street vendors and people seemingly in need at such a level that I had never witnessed before. We had been advised not to bring out money and had been “prepped” for what we would see and experience, but I was still completely overwhelmed in both heart and mind.
My love and I were approached by a woman with a baby that appeared lethargic in her arms. She cried and pleaded with us over and over for money for food. I tried to keep moving and look ahead for safety as we were instructed to do. The sound of her pleading and of Joel having to say over and over he was sorry but couldn’t stop or help was just more than my heart could take. In my thoughts there was no acceptable answer or action. If it was the truth, she and her baby were in such need and we wanted to help. If it was that she was being exploited by men who would then collect all the money or objects she was given it was a terrible abuse and we would be enabling if we reached out. There was no way in that moment we could help. The helper in me was devastated. The thoughts hit me so hard I was literally stunned.
I had a completely unexpected, shake me to my core, break my heart open, can’t process fast enough, can’t breathe, can’t, can’t, can’t moment on the streets of Varanasi. I could feel the breath leaving my body and the sights and sounds begin to dim around me. I called out to Joel as we got separated and my arm got lightly clipped by a passing motorcycle. He thought I was just asking him to walk with me so he stayed his helpful course. It was the last straw and I burst into tears calling out to him loudly that I couldn’t make it, that I wasn’t okay. Here I was, the helper, the facilitator, the leader, in such a state of vulnerability and overload that I couldn’t get my breath or my bearings. I was quickly wrapped in the safety of Joel’s arms and in the love of several of my travel companions who approached gently from behind and let me know they were right there with me. I let myself be held and protected for the rest of that long walk back to our bus.
As I was crying and trying to catch my breath a young man came up likely to sell to us but he saw my pain and didn’t. He asked Joel several times, “Why is your wife sad, why is she crying?” Joel’s reply as he held me tight and kept walking was “She is just a little sad, a little overwhelmed.” I will never forget what that young man said next and it was what quite literally brought my breath back and helped me regain my strength. “You are a very lucky man, your wife has the most beautiful, loving heart.” This is the core of love in the people that we saw and experienced over and over on our journey through India.
Back at our hotel, I was feeling embarrassed. I thought I had let others down. I found myself starting to apologize but was quickly met with another opportunity to receive. This is just a bit of what I heard: “No need for sorry. You were just in complete compassion in that moment.” “It was beautiful how much your heart felt.” “No need to apologize, you were just the one to express and release what all of us were feeling in that street today.”
This was a life-changing lesson in the Art of Receiving for me and this Helper has learned on an even deeper level how to open herself to help.
Ann Murgatroyd-Soe, Hot Pink University
When’s the last time you found yourself apologizing for having your feelings or showing your weakness? To me, the ability to show this level of vulnerability is a true strength. As you venture further into the year 2016, I encourage you to find your own opportunities to receive. I think you’ll find that the people around you are more than willing to give.