This blog is intended to create a dialogue about learning to receive with grace and ease.

So much has been written about the importance of giving that we forget that in order to give,

someone has to be receiving.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jesus as a Receiver

Today many of us will celebrate the birth of Jesus, perhaps the most well-known man ever to live. Many of us think of Jesus as a giver, not a receiver. He gave prayers, healing, food, wine, comfort, and peace to people of all ages and backgrounds. Yet he also received a great deal, something I rarely give thought to.

Of course, we’re reminded at this time of year that the three kings gave Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh at his birth.
While we don’t know much about his childhood, we’re told that as an adult he frequently received meals and housing, often from strangers. Some have suggested his robe was a gift, since Scripture says it was seamless, an expensive garment he was unlikely to have afforded. The gospel of Luke relates the story of the woman sinner who bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and then kissed and anointed them with ointment. The donkey that carried Jesus on his celebratory ride into town was borrowed, and Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of spices to anoint his body for burial. Finally, Joseph of Arimathea donated his own tomb for Jesus’ use.

Perhaps the most important lesson for us to remember this season is that Jesus frequently asked for guidance and strength, as he retreated alone to pray. Based on his legendary works and his frequent instruction to us to pray and ask for what we need, it is apparent that he received what he sought. Let us follow the Master Teacher’s example this season and joyfully ask for and receive what we need.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Forced to Receive

Exploring the process of learning to receive with grace and ease has been fascinating. I truly believe that we must be able to receive to live a full and happy life, but there are still those who resist learning to overcome their discomfort with receiving. Many of these people tell me they have been forced into receiving to survive.

My research shows that there are typically two circumstances that oblige people to ask for or at least accept help. The first is illness. Today the most common ailment forcing the issue is cancer, although stroke and HIV/AIDS are two other debilitating experiences that necessitate accepting assistance. People with these conditions report initial feelings of guilt and shame at needing help, which only adds to the suffering they endure. Financial distress is the other situation where people report being compelled to ask for help, typically due to job loss or divorce. Here the embarrassment and shame are even greater, as many feel as if they’ve failed in their responsibility to support themselves. Eventually, most grow to be more accepting, with some adopting a “pay it forward” mindset.

While some may view these occurrences as punishments, many of my spiritual teachers tend to see them as opportunities given to us (or perhaps thrust upon us would be more accurate) for our soul’s growth. Because giving and receiving are a process that cannot be taken apart, givers must eventually receive. As I’ve said before, receivers always bless the giver, so one who truly loves giving will ultimately learn how to receive as another form of giving.

This is the perfect time of year to increase your comfort with receiving all forms of blessing. I wish you great joy in your giving and receiving!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It’s the Season for Giving – and Receiving

It’s the time of year that can give people who have difficulty receiving a hard time. The season of giving is naturally the season of receiving as well; otherwise there’d be no giving!

So how’s it going for you so far? Have you gotten any unexpected gifts? What does it feel like to receive a gift from someone who wasn’t on your shopping list? For most people, it’s not comfortable. The idea of reciprocating is so engrained in us that receiving without giving in return is almost unbearable for some people. I remember an episode of Fraser where Martin (Fraser’s father) and Daphne, his caregiver, struggled with this very thing. They ended up having quite a row, as Daphne would put it.

I find it helpful to put myself in the other person’s shoes. How would I feel if I gave a present to someone who did not give one to me? Most likely, I’d be fine with it. After all, why did I give the gift? Because I wanted to, not to get one in return or because I thought I had to. It could be that I saw something I thought they would enjoy, or perhaps I felt especially thankful for their friendship and wanted to express it with something tangible. Whatever the reason, remember that in the vast majority of cases, the giver gives simply for the joy of giving. Your gratitude and appreciation are the gifts the giver hoped to receive, nothing more. If you feel compelled to give something in return, how about a hand-written thank you note? In this day of email and text messages, it will not only be cherished but also unique!

Let’s remember this holiday season that our greatest gifts to one another are gratitude and appreciation.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holding Space

I first heard the phrase “holding space” at a conference on spirituality in the workplace held at Unity of Phoenix. At the time I had no idea what the Unity Movement or New Thought were and I didn’t really know what the phrase meant, but it intrigued me. Through my studies in both Unity and Religious Science, it’s become a familiar notion to me, although I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone formally define it.

For me, holding space means allowing a possibility to exist in our thoughts and consciousness. Holding space is a very helpful concept to embrace when we’d like to receive something. It’s been said that if you can’t imagine it, you can’t have it. When we’re filled with doubt, worry, fear, or concern, these negative thoughts take up space in our minds. As Prentice Mulford stated, thoughts are things. For many of us, our worry thoughts are so pervasive they can literally crowd out any contrary thoughts we’d like to hold. If seeing this physically is difficult for you, translate it into time. If you spend all your time fretting, you won’t have time for believing, visualizing the best, and simply feeling good.

Can you “hold space” for what you’d like? How do you begin? If worrying is a habit of yours, as it is for many of us, try what some therapists suggest and schedule a specific, limited worry time for yourself. Allow ten minutes for worry thoughts (or less if that will work!) and set an alarm. When you’re done, gently remind yourself that your worry time is over – and you’ll have time tomorrow to go back to those thoughts if you must. Have a positive thought or memory at hand that you can immediate substitute for any fear, worry, or doubt that may creep back into your consciousness.

Thoughts are things. This week hold space for only the highest and best thoughts in your mind and see what happens.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Keep Moving

Here in Phoenix, we have many gated communities. While you need to know the code to open the gate to enter, all you need to do to exit is to drive up to the gate. If you stop as you approach the closed gate, it won’t open. You have to slowly proceed toward the gate, even though it’s closed, until you’re close enough to trigger it to open.

Many of my teachers tell me life works the same way. The open door, the next opportunity, the solution is not quite visible, but we have to keep moving. I know someone who has wanted to leave one part time job she’s had for many years and find another, more satisfying one. She recently found the new job, but the hours weren’t certain, so she kept the old one just in case. This week she’s decided that the additional hours in the new job won’t come until she releases the old position, so she’s given her notice. She’s driving up to the gate!

I dated a man many years ago who, unbeknownst to me, had a similar habit of hanging on to relationships. He was so fearful of being alone that he’d start a new relationship with someone while still seeing the other person he really wanted to release, not letting either party in on this practice. I’m sure you can imagine the potential for distress in this situation, which unfortunately became very real for me.

The lesson for those of us desiring to receive is twofold: keep moving toward our goal, our good, and fearlessly let go of that which no longer serves us. If a manmade gate automatically opens when we drive up to it, certainly the Universe will manage to open the door to greater good for us as we approach.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving week, a time for family, gratitude and memories. One of my Thanksgiving traditions is to attend a church service on Wednesday evening. A few years ago, Creative Living Fellowship in Phoenix held a particularly meaningful service for Thanksgiving.

In this service, Rev. Dr. Michele Whittington suggested that the congregation be thankful for everything, absolutely every thing, even those things we didn’t like so much. She invited us to recognize the good that one each held. For instance, she pointed out that the gas shortage taking place at the time was spurring auto manufacturers to step up production of alternative fuel vehicles, blessing our planet and decreasing our dependence on oil. People were also conserving gas by riding their bicycles more, a benefit to their health. As the evening progressed, I was amazed how much good was uncovered in the events and circumstances most people considered bad.

What is happening right now in your life for which you find it hard to feel grateful? If it’s difficult to identify the good in it, think about what that situation has forced you to do. Who have you met as a result? What new experience have you had because of this occurrence? Have you discovered a skill or quality in yourself that you didn’t know you had? If not, I encourage you to be thankful for it anyway and see what happens. Your grateful heart will make you feel better and attract more blessings to you.

I hope you have very happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Accepting Without Receiving

We’ve been looking at when to accept what’s offered and when to let it pass. There are times that land somewhere in the middle, when it may be best to accept what’s offered, even though we’d rather not receive it. It is possible to accept what’s given at the moment and then decide later what we’ll do with it.

This category can include suggestions, complaints, criticism, and well-intentioned gifts such as food (e.g., the proverbial holiday fruit cake). Maybe it’s your in-laws who always know best how to handle the kids or a co-worker who suggests a better way to do your job. Years ago when I worked in management my staff would give me homemade treats, which while appearing delicious did not fit into my weight control program well. I learned to accept what was offered, put it aside, and decide later whether I would take it home to share, eat a portion of it, or dispose of it altogether. We can take that same approach with suggestions and criticism. A reply of “thanks, I’ll give that consideration” is usually all it takes to end the conversation on a positive note. Note that you did not say how much consideration you would give it or whether you would use the advice at all.

Learning to receive with grace and ease includes learning how to accept without truly receiving. This is easier when we keep in mind that the giver is really trying to be helpful and that what we resist persists. Say “thank you” and just move on.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

When to Say “No”

Last week I wrote about saying “yes” to receive more, but are there times when saying “no” to something that’s offered is best? Absolutely. Sometimes people give just so they can receive or because it puts them in the position of being owed something. Have ever been around someone who never let you forget what they did for you?

Because giving and receiving are so interconnected, it’s natural to want to give back when we’ve received something. But what if someone offers us something just so we’ll be indebted to them? In my work with singles, I have been told about situations where a woman was uncomfortable accepting help from a man because she felt she would then owe him something. I wrote in my book about a man I dated for several weeks who became increasingly unpleasant to be with. When I confronted him about this, he finally acknowledged that he thought by now, after all the dinners he’d bought me, we’d be “farther along” than we were. I don’t mean to suggest by my examples that this is a male trait; there have been too many stories about mothers laying guilt on their children over their labor and delivery not to have some element of truth to them.

Unfortunately there are occasions when people take advantage of the connection between giving and receiving. The process works when it’s balanced. Pay attention to your inner guidance. Do you feel peace and relief over the offer or is there a knot in your stomach? Now the latter might just be your standard resistance to receiving -- or it could be something more. Proceed with caution and seek the opinion of close, wise friend, if possible. We do need to both give and receive to live a full and joyful life, but they should each be done freely, with no strings attached.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Say “Yes” to Give and Receive More

I like the word “yes” and I’m looking for opportunities to use it more. I can still hear the wonderful Dr. Leo Buscalia, expert on love, extolling the word “yes,” because it opened up new possibilities and uplifted the soul. I'm using it more when giving feedback to my college students and I say “yes” to as many invitations and opportunities as I can. How about you?

I find many people reluctant to say “yes” to what’s presented to them, particularly invitations to gatherings, parties, mixers, and similar events. I remember giving a Come As You Will Be Party years ago, inspired by piece in Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles. The idea is to hold a celebration where all the guests come dressed as they would be five years in the future, after having achieved their most heart-felt dream. I only invited people that I knew were goal-oriented and had specific plans for their lives. I was amazed how many of them were intrigued by the idea, but held back responding to the invitation and in the end did not come.

Although this was a special event, many people often pass up more routine opportunities and do not even acknowledge the request to RSVP. Certainly I understand that we’re all very busy and have to make choices, but previous commitments explain only part of this behavior. In talking to people, I find they often don’t think the event will interest them or they think they won’t enjoy themselves. Many times they don’t believe their absence will matter.

If this describes you, I invite you to reconsider this line of thinking, especially if you’re trying to receive more in your life. First of all, your presence does matter; you would not have been invited otherwise. Many times when I go to an event as a courtesy to the host I find that it is I who was blessed in the end. Perhaps someone was there I was grateful to see or meet. It might be that I was able to offer some information or a contact to a guest that no one else there could have. Or it might simply have been an exceptionally fun and relaxing time that I would have missed out on. These opportunities are typically perfect examples of how giving and receiving are so connected that we cannot tell them apart. Say “yes” to the next invitation you receive and see what happens!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Feeling Worthy to Receive

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me....

Many of us grew up hearing this classic hymn in church. I did, and it’s still one of my favorites. However, I prefer the updated lyrics I’ve heard: "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a soul like me....” If you were to look up the definition of wretch, you’d find it means someone who is pitied, annoying, or despicable, whereas soul is much more neutral and can refer to feelings, spirit, essence, or anyone.

While humility is admirable, it can be taken too far, and when it is, this extreme perspective will not help your efforts to receive. For some, it is this sense of unworthiness that blocks them from receiving the good they seek and sometimes even the basic things they need. In my survey on receiving, half of those who reported difficulty receiving what they need experienced feelings of unworthiness to some degree. I recently heard someone asked what she would change about the world if she could change one thing. A thought came to mind for me that I’ve held many times: wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone on the planet knew, really knew, how much God loved them?

As a child of the Creator, your nature is goodness and you are worthy to receive. Great teachers from all the ages have taught this. As Marianne Williamson states, “In the eyes of God, we’re all perfect and we have unlimited capacity to express brilliantly.” If you’d like to explore this notion further, check out the writings of Ernest Holmes, Catherine Ponder, Edwene Gaines, Wallace Wattles, H. Emilie Cady, Marianne Williamson or the authors on my recommended reading list.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is Perfection Your Goal?

“The idea of perfect closes your mind to new standards. When you drive hard toward one ideal, you miss opportunities and paths, not to mention hurting your confidence. Believe in your potential and then go out and explore it; don’t limit it.” John Eliot, Ph.D., Reverse Psychology for Success

Last week I wrote about how hearing of another’s success can be motivating or demoralizing, depending on how we look at it. But that doesn’t just happen when we compare ourselves to another person; it could be the expectations we have of ourselves that cause the same discouragement.

Just today I two conversations along this line. The first was with a business colleague who was feeling disheartened over her inability to do it all. She was exhausted caring for her business, home, family, and self. I resonated with her statements, having been there myself many times. The other was with a close friend who told me she sometimes wonders if she is the only one who struggles with certain issues. She acknowledged that my recently admitting my own difficulties along the same lines encouraged her – she realized that she was not alone!

I do believe in goals and know the statistics about how much more people who have written goals achieve compared to those who don’t. But let’s not get caught with perfection as our goal. We do not have to do it all, have it all, or be it all. What if we let ourselves just be for a while, and see what comes. If doing so for a whole day is unrealistic, how about an hour? Let us do only what is truly ours to do and free ourselves to explore the opportunities and paths that come when we let go of perfection.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To Be Inspired and Motivated, Stay Connected

Last month I heard a very accomplished and delightful speaker talk about how she has achieved her success. Her path has included a combination of trial and error, synchronicity, and lots of hard work. We in the audience had a choice to be inspired and motivated by her story or discouraged and overwhelmed. Our selection will likely have a tremendous impact on what comes next for us.

Between the writers I know and the small business owners I network with, I hang out with a lot of goal-driven, success-oriented people. We like to hear stories of how other people are making it; they give us ideas that are new to us, encouragement to keep going, and hope. The best examples are those who share their hard times and missteps, along with their best decisions and successes. This speaker did all these things, so if we in the audience stay centered and focused on we can do, we’ll align ourselves to receive the things we are working for. We’ll remember that we don’t have to be perfect to be successful.

This sounds great and simple enough, but it’s not that easy. Her journey was long and included countless late nights, risk taking, and a strong, seemingly unwavering drive to succeed. Are we up for that much sacrifice and effort? Were the opportunities that arose really the result of the law of attraction she used skillfully and we could emulate or was she just in the right place at the time, events never to happen again? I don’t know about the rest of the audience, but for me it’s about this time that my old friends doubt and fear stop by. If I don’t quickly shoo them away, even more debilitating worry comes to call. Now I’m in for it!

If this resonates with you, take heart! I’ve found that being around like-minded individuals invaluable for staying motivated and hopeful. Thankfully there are dozens of support groups, networking organizations, and professional associations to assist you, along with various churches and other spiritual centers. Check online and ask around. Make sure the culture of the group is optimistic and supportive. If one doesn’t fit, try another. They need your energy as much as you need theirs.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Being in the Flow

One of my long-standing issues has been knowing when to act and when to let go. At work, at home, with the kids, it’s been a challenge for me to find the right balance. I struggle between “let go and let God” and “God helps those who help themselves!” Have you ever found yourself stuck between these two approaches?

Over the years, it has gotten easier for me when faced with a choice of which path to take to accept “it depends” as an answer. I’ve had a tendency to favor the take action side and am learning to be more comfortable with the idea of staying in the flow. A teacher who has been very helpful to me with this practice is Steven Lane Taylor, author of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. He has devoted the past ten years or so to helping people understand what it means to be in the flow, why it’s an ideal place to be, and how to get and stay there. When I’m caught in my classic dilemma, I go back to Steve’s teaching and visualize myself in a boat, where I gently row in the direction I want to go and let the current do much of work.

This week I heard a very accomplished and delightful speaker talk about how she has achieved her success. While she has worked extremely hard, many things have also seemingly just flowed to her. She made it a point to remind us that when we’ve asked for something and it arrives, we need to be prepared to accept it. Even when we’re in the flow, we may have to choose to let go of the good for the greater. Steve has pointed out that at times the river branches off, and we have to make a choice.

If you find yourself in the boat with me or like the idea of letting the current help you, I invite you to visit Steve’s blog. Receiving with grace and ease is so much easier when we’re in the flow.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Skillful Living

I like the idea of living skillfully. I remember hearing one of my all-time favorite teachers, the late Dr. Leo Buscalia, talk about his college course on love, stating that he felt we could all benefit from being taught how to love effectively. I agree, and I think the same could be said about the value of learning to live effectively. There are skills, techniques, and practices that when applied make life easier and more joyful. The practice of receiving with grace and ease is certainly life enhancing.

In my daily experiences I see how people’s lives are improved when they receive what’s offered. My college students’ grades climb when they receive and apply my feedback. I recall friends recovering from injuries or surgery whose bodies healed more quickly when they learned to receive help from their families. My clients’ work-life balance is enhanced when they let go and accept help from others, as appropriate. The caregivers I work with get the respite they need when they allow their care-receivers’ family members to provide assistance occasionally. My coworkers’ moods lift when they receive compliments on their performance or even their appearance.

Yes, being able to receive with grace and ease is a life skill to be developed and used regularly. This week, observe your skill level in this area and see if it’s something you could improve upon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Helpful Habits

I stopped by my local Weight Watchers center yesterday for my monthly weigh-in and saw a poster on the wall entitled: Helpful Habits. Since helping people create and sustain healthy habits is the primary mission of Nurture You, this caught my eye. I took particular notice of the first and last items on the list.

The first habit was to ask for help. This is so relevant to learning to receive with grace and ease, because asking for help implies we’re willing to accept it. If you find it difficult to receive in general, why not give this habit a try with something small, such as asking for assistance carrying something or help with the dishes? Perhaps someone you live with could run an errand for you or take out the recycling tonight. Allow yourself to accept the help, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Taking small steps is often a successful way to build a new habit.

The last item on the list of habits was to take care of yourself. This could involve receiving from someone else, as discussed above, or it could be mean receiving from yourself. How do you give to yourself? Have you ever been told to cut yourself some slack? The 1971 book, How to Be Your Own Best Friend, comes to mind, as does the reminder I received years ago to talk to myself the way I would to my best friend. I often work with clients on learning to say “no” to requests that don’t serve them or to let what they’ve done be enough. These are all things I continue to remind myself of and are ways you can give to yourself.

Learning to receive with grace and ease is an ongoing process for many of us, and like any skill we work at, it gets easier. Let’s acknowledge our discomfort with receiving, and do it anyway so it becomes a habit.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gracious Receiving

“There are times in life when we have to be a gracious receiver.”
Michelle Duggar

Do you recognize who made this statement? Michelle Duggar is the mother of 19 children; she and her family are featured on 19 Kids and Counting shown on cable television’s TLC network. In the past two years, Michelle has undergone some life-threatening health challenges in addition to giving birth to her latest baby at just 25 weeks of gestation. She knows what she is speaking about when she talks about the need to receive graciously.

My research showed that serious illnesses and accidents force many people into a condition of having to receive. However, if you think about it, every single person on the planet was born needy and had to receive to survive. Some degree of neediness continued for many years and in some respects never leaves us. While most of us learn to make exchanges for the basic necessities of life, the things on Maslow’s lower levels of his Hierarchy of Needs such as food and shelter, higher needs on his pyramid cannot necessarily be bought or acquired by exchange – esteem, friendship and love. It’s true that we usually arrive at states of high self esteem, friendship, and love through a process of giving and receiving, but haven’t you experienced people unwilling to receive your gestures of friendship or love?

Although some people may not admit it, to be healthy and thrive, we all need love. We need someone to care about us and for us, whether we’re able to give them anything first, or in exchange, or not. To live a rich and full life, we simply must learn to be a gracious receiver.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why Do You Give?

For those who prefer giving over receiving, let me ask you, “Why do you give?” Have you ever thought about this? If I brainstormed this question with a group, I expect we’d list reasons such as: it feels good; because it’s better to give than to receive; to avoid feeling guilty about receiving; because I can – I have the time, the money, the talent, etc.; because people need me to; to express my gratitude; and because others have given to me. We also might get some less than positive reasons such as I give because I have to, it’s expected of me, or some other variation of “I’m obligated to.”

What do you think about giving so you can receive? Having studied this process, I know it’s not possible to give without receiving, as I’ve said a number of times. When we feel the need to receive, is it wrong or perhaps counterproductive to give as a way to increase our likelihood of receiving what we need? I don’t think so. First of all, I can’t forget what I know. I know giving will facilitate my receiving. I can’t blindly give without at least a passing thought that I might be more inclined to receive, especially if my need is pressing. Second, I think we rarely are so single-minded that we do things for only one reason. I give for many of the reasons I listed above, so if one of the reasons I give is so that I can receive more easily, so be it. Finally, lots of prosperity teachers, Catherine Ponder for one, suggest giving more as one of many ways we can enhance the flow of good into our lives.

The important thing is the spirit with which we give. Ideally it’s not out of obligation or just so that we can receive more, but rather because we can, we truly want to, and we know everyone will be blessed as a result.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Last week I shared a bit of my writing with some fellow authors to get their feedback and suggestions. I read two pages from the introduction of Learning to Receive with Grace and Ease. I opened with a quotation from Wallace Wattles’ The Science of Getting Rich in which he writes, “It is perfectly right that you should desire to be rich; if you are a normal man or woman you cannot help doing so.” Most of the writers seemed offended by this statement, thinking it suggested taking or getting rather than receiving.

I was startled by their reaction. I was introduced to Wattles’ book in a class on prosperity being offered my church. The emphasis is not on getting, because that implies there isn’t enough and I have to strive to get what I need – and my doing so may leave someone else with not enough. The foundation of the workshop and The Science of Getting Rich is that we live in prosperity. This is always more than enough for everyone; it just doesn’t always appear that way.

In reality, it is possible for everyone to be “rich.” Consider that not everyone would define “rich” in the same way. We all don’t want the same things. In addition, if you look around, you’ll see abundance everywhere in nature – oxygen, water, sand, stars, and countless species of plants and animals. You’ll also notice that these life forms are supplied with what they need (unless we humans have upset nature’s balance). I like to remember that Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Don’t be afraid to define what it would mean for you to be rich or to desire it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Do Not Get What You Pray For

I’m finally starting to figure out that I cannot expect to get what I pray for. Over the years, I’ve gotten the impression that prayers do work, although sometimes it may take a while. I suspect there was more to my spiritual teachers’ messages that I was overlooking. The way I now believe it works is this: you do not get what you pray for. You get what you believe you will get.

Jesus actually made this clear on several occasions. “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matt 21:22) is one example. Notice the statement starts with the qualifying point. However, being so action oriented in our culture, it’s much easier for most of us to pray than to believe.

Can’t we just keep asking and believe after we’ve received? I’ve tried this approach for years, without much success. Occasionally I have received things I never thought I would. Rev. Lei Lanni Burt explains that there is always more with God. I like to think of these blessings as encouragement from God, because it is easier to believe when we have received in the past.

To receive what we desire, let’s first stop and examine what we believe. When you start a new treatment plan, make a different choice or try something new, are you skeptical? When the results don’t come, do you find yourself thinking, “I knew it wouldn’t work”? If you catch yourself in doubt, spend time considering what thoughts you could hold that would build your belief. You may want to read my blog post from October 10, 2010 – Remember What You Know to help you create your own list of times you have received. Finally, consider making your first prayer one for greater faith.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Third of Three Power Practices for Receiving - Giving

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there are three power practices for enhancing our ability to receive: gratitude and forgiveness were the first two, and the third is to give. I guarantee you that if you give from your heart and there is someone willing to receive it, you will receive something. At the very least, I know you will receive the joy of having given. I believe, deep down, that’s the reason most people who love to give do so – because it feels good! Being appreciated, helping another person, using our talents to bless others, these are all things that fulfill and reward us.

This weekend I go again to the women’s prison in Perryville, AZ to conduct a couple of my wellness workshops. Every six months when my schedule permits I meet with about 20 inmates who are due to be released within the next six months or so. We discuss ways they can eat well, be active, and balance their lives so that they can be physically well as they transition to life on the outside again. While there is no monetary compensation for my efforts, the emotional rewards are abundant. The women hang on my every word. They are SO appreciative that I’ve given up my Saturday morning for them. They teach me a wonderful lesson in the power of gratitude. That’s partly why I know gratitude is a power practice for receiving. In reality, I haven’t given up anything for them. I receive so much fulfillment, respect, and joy from my visits that I come out receiving far more than I give.

It’s critical to remember that when giving we must do so from a spirit of love and generosity. We do not give so that we can receive. We give because we have something (time, attention, money, talent, expertise, etc.) that would bless another. We give because we have received in the past and feels right and good to take our turn to give. We do not give until it hurts or because we feel obligated. We give because we are so grateful for what we have that we naturally want others to be blessed by it as well.

It’s been a pleasure sharing these three power practices for receiving with you. I hope you find them to be as effective as I have. For more on enhancing your ability to receive, you can view all my blog posts here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Second of Three Power Practices for Receiving - Forgiveness

Last time I talked about the first power practice to enhance our ability to receive – gratitude. Today let’s consider the second – forgiveness. Withholding forgiveness from ourselves or another person is detrimental to our intention to receive. The flow of blessings into our lives gets blocked by resentment, hurt, anger and unforgiveness. It’s like stepping on a fire hose: until we step off by forgiving the ourselves or the other individual, the flow is cut off.

If you’re reading this article, you probably realize this already. So just how do we go about forgiving? Last week I attended the annual International New Thought Alliance Congress held here in Phoenix. Although I’ve heard many people speak on forgiveness, at the Congress two key points were made by Rev. Sheila McKeithen. She stated that forgiveness does not mean that we condone the other person’s actions nor does it require that we reconcile with them. If you find it difficult to even get started forgiving someone, try to keep these two thoughts in mind. She also pointed out that we don’t have to forget (and perhaps we shouldn’t), but we do need to forgive, for our own well-being.

A participant at the Congress also had an interesting practice he used to forgive those who have hurt him deeply. He said he imagines gathering a group of people he loves the most together for a photo. He envisions them all together and then places the person he wants to forgive in the center, because “that’s where they belong.” I tried it and found it quite effective. I was able to see the person in the center as I knew they could be, not as they showed up in their error thinking and misdirected behavior.

Finally, when I need to forgive someone, I frequently use a technique taught by Rev. Lei Lanni Burt of Light and Love Ministries. She has a three-step process: 1) separate the being from the behavior (I think the photo idea will be helpful with this), 2) remember that we don’t know the whole story (we don’t always know our own story or why we do what we do, so how could we possibly know what’s really going on with them?), and 3) ask God for help. Over the years, I’ve found this method to be simple and powerful.

Like gratitude, this is a big topic with many practices. My book includes others if you’d like more suggestions. Remember that letting go of blame, shame and hurt will enable you to stay in place of joy and peace where more good will be naturally drawn to you. That’s a great place to be!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The First of Three Power Practices for Receiving - Gratitude

I’ve been studying and doing my best to live New Thought teachings for over a decade now. As I explore this area of receiving, I’ve come to recognize that there are three power practices for receiving that my spiritual teachers consistently stress. When used regularly and with the right consciousness, these practices cannot fail to enhance your ability to receive.

The first is gratitude. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you” the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (1 Thes 5:18). Simple enough to understand but not at all easy to do! How does one feel grateful all the time and why is it a power practice for receiving? Many books have been written on the subject, but let me highlight a few key points as I’ve come to understand them:

• Thankfulness has been and still is universally recognized as a life-enhancing practice by all major religions, spiritual teachers, philosophers, and self-help gurus. A Google search on “gratitude” generates over 58 million hits.
• Practicing gratitude in all circumstances is humbling. Most people believe in a benevolent higher power of some sort, and being grateful acknowledges this overriding goodness, even when we can’t see it and despite appearances to the contrary.
• Being grateful for what we have takes our focus off of what we don’t have, but want. It lifts our spirits, encourages those around us, and opens the way for more good to flow.
• What we appreciate appreciates. As a wellness consultant, I learned a long time ago that I had to love my body first. Caring for it would then come naturally and be easier than when I criticized my body. My self-care would then cause improvements in my body, giving me even more to appreciate about it. Appreciation and gratitude create an upward spiral of greater value and gratitude, creating even more good.
• Being grateful now prevents regret later. After Mom died and Dad moved to Phoenix, I knew my time with him was limited. I made a conscious choice to appreciate every day I had with him. Now that he’s passed, I am so grateful that I was grateful! I knew those times were precious, and I can look back on them with peace of mind and thankfulness, not regret that I didn’t know what I had.
• Along those lines, when circumstances are challenging, there is always someone going through greater difficulty than I. My bank account may not be overflowing at the moment, but I have a wonderful home and husband, excellent health and a sound mind, and a growing faith – and I live in this land of freedom and opportunity. What’s not to be grateful for?

I could continue, but I imagine you get the point. To quote German theologian, philosopher and mystic Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is "thank you," that would suffice.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Update on Receiving Our New Home

Last December I told you about my desire to sell our home, one I purchased before I met Roger, so that we could purchase a home together. We’ve made great progress in five months.

We spent the first four and a half months of 2011 updating our home: replacing the air conditioners; painting almost the entire inside; installing granite countertops, new cupboards, stainless steel appliances, and an under-mount sink; replacing the light fixtures throughout the house; and removing the old spa and gazebo. Roger did as much of this work as he could and hired and managed numerous contractors to do the rest. His vision and attention to detail have been such a blessing to me!

Meanwhile, I’ve done what I can to support him while daily holding space for what we want. I bless the new owners; I don’t know who they are, but God does. I ask God to guide us in making choices that will suit the buyers’ tastes and needs. I also daily bless those who are preparing our new house for us. I affirm perfect timing with the sale of our current house and the purchase of our new house. I see both transactions happening with grace and ease for all parties. When progress slowed with the renovations, I reminded myself that God has the timing worked out perfectly. I also followed the advice of the manager of a Catholic bookstore and have an image of St. Joseph in the front window, not buried upside down, as many suggest. “It’s your faith that will sell your house,” she stated, and I believe her.

Our house officially went on the market May 25, and we have had over six showings. The feedback is great. Today we viewed several homes, beginning our house hunt in earnest. To clear the way for us to release this house and buy our next, we meet with our mortgage broker next week to secure financing. This last step will show the Universe that we have done all we can and are ready to receive!