Earth Caretakers, Meg Beeler
The Beauty of Receptivity 7.14
Have you ever noticed that compliments pass you by? That you hear the words but just don’t feel them or take them in? Then you are like most of us: anxious to give, and not so good at receiving.
Receptivity expresses our willingness to experience, engage, and be open. It is like a permeable membrane in our energy field, allowing what is unfamiliar or new into our awareness.
Receptivity is an essential component of developing our perception. If we cannot experience anything different from what we already know, if we cannot trust our experience, our perception of the world stays static and rigid. Nothing can move!
Without receptivity, we humans do not trust enough to listen and hear. Without receptivity, any possibilities not yet explored remain closed. Without receptivity, we spiral within what we already know: Our minds run their old tapes, our minds tell us what we think, we repeat our beliefs over and over in our conversation, and we refuse to believe what does not correspond with our perceptions. The lack of receptivity creates a barrier, a kind of wall around us. We unconsciously hope this wall will keep things as they are, keep out disruption, and protect us from having to change.
We know that such belief rigidity has physical, psychological, spiritual, and health consequences. It can result in disease, fear, suffering and despair, uncontrollable rage, and worse. We certainly see the results of belief rigidity in the halls of Congress and the deserts of the Middle East.
As species, as nation, as individuals, we know that many roads we are traveling are dysfunctional. Whether the specific dysfunction is personal addiction or global warming, despair or consumerism, nothing will change until we perceive a different road, a different path, and take it. The first step is to be receptive to different possibilities. Then our willingness to try something new, hear something different, and experience a shift will open the pathways.
For our health, as well as our perception, it makes sense to cultivate receptivity.
Our Barriers of Resistance
“Don’t believe everything you think,” says a bumper sticker someone once gave me for my car. I like to think of myself as a receptive person. Yet I can attest to many times when my own unconscious barriers impeded shifts I was trying to make.
Some years ago I began a practice of transfiguration.* Each morning before rising I’d find the light in my heart, my essence. I felt it as a small golden light, seeing it get bigger and bigger until it filled my whole aura, or energy bubble. I was learning to find, experience, and become my true essence. Perceiving from that place changed everything.
Yet I wondered why I had to start over each day: why wasn’t it easier as the feelings became more familiar? What was keeping me from maintaining a transfigured state, as well-known spiritual leaders and saints do? Of course I wasn’t trying to be a saint; rather, I wanted to live from my true essence, and not just from the persona I had developed.
This is the same issue that anyone who is changing perceptual framework or cultivating a spiritual practice faces. Even when we have a supportive community, feel transported in body and spirit, and experience how our practice eases our lives, we struggle and resist.
“You have to be able to receive love in order to give love,” says spiritual teacher Sandra Ingerman. While I had heard this often, one day I understood that I had been focusing outwards rather than experiencing the reciprocal flow of energy. I was not consciously receiving, or even perceiving what was being sent my way.
I began to explore, with intent, how to receive, and how to be receptive. What I discovered was barriers–in my thinking, habits, trust, and unconscious assumptions–that got in the way of receptivity.
One barrier is belief. When we do not believe we are lovable, worthy, or deserving of love, for whatever reasons, it is pretty hard to receive it.
A second barrier is lack of trust. When we assume that we are separate from others, that we are in competition, or that others are more capable than we are, we are not likely to trust that they are supporting us; we are not likely to receive love or compliments.
A third barrier is habits of response. When someone says, “That’s a pretty dress,” and we reply “Oh, it’s old,” we are discounting the compliment given to us. When the boss says, “Great job,” and we doubt his intentions, our habits of response–the shadows of old patterns–are getting in the way of receptivity. They keep us from enjoying the moment.
A fourth barrier lies in our disconnection. When we don’t experience the aliveness and consciousness in a rose, redwood, or hummingbird, it doesn’t occur to us that they might be giving back to us.
We have myriad ways of being unreceptive. Excuses, confusion, ego, illusions, disbelief, and blame are habits to watch for. The “thick armor of doubt and skepticism that exists in the conscious mind” must be bypassed, says writer Michal Talbott.
Our unconscious beliefs, even stronger, have to be identified. As Dr. Bernie S. Siegal says, “people are addicted to their beliefs” even when they know a change would be better for them or the world.
* Transfiguration is an ancient practice found in many spiritual traditions. See Ingerman, Sandra. Medicine for the Earth: How To Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000, pp. 189-198.
Summer love and blessings,
Meg Beeler/Earth Caretakers