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Receptivity expresses your willingness to experience, engage, and be open. It is like a permeable membrane in your energy field, allowing what is unfamiliar or new into your awareness. Being receptive helps you look for commonalities—what you might share with others—and complementarities. Being receptive helps you step aside from judgment and your experience of separation. Receptivity opens you to possibilities not yet explored, and different ways of perceiving your experience. Maybe compliments usually pass you by—you hear the words but just don’t feel them or take them in. Possibly you are so busy you forget to slow down and enjoy a hug someone gives you. Most of us are not so good at receiving: our stories and interpretations of reality cloud or misinterpret what is actually going on. Won’t it be wonderful to build this pillar of your perception so you can fully take in and receive all the blessings that come your way?
If you see the stars as bright burning objects in the sky and nothing more, it’s unlikely you will be able to feel a connection or receive and use their energy. Your story limits your open-mindedness to what’s possible. Another example: racism. If you are receptive to the possibility that you contribute in some way to racial separation and division—if you are willing to consider your own actions and speech—you’ll be more able to help heal cultural, economic, and racial divisiveness in society. If you believe other folks exhibit racist behavior but you don’t, not much will change on a personal or collective front. This isn’t about being a good person: it’s about being open and receptive to a different perspective and perception. If you cannot experience anything different from what you already know, if you cannot trust your experience, your 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, you spiral within what you already know: Your mind runs its old tapes, your mind tells you what you think, you repeat your beliefs over and over in your conversation, and you refuse to believe what does not correspond with your perceptions. The lack of receptivity creates a barrier, a kind of wall around you. You unconsciously hope this wall will keep things as they are, keep out disruption, and protect you from having to change. Just like the border wall.
Being receptive is an essential component of creating a new story. Being receptive helps you be fluid in response to change, shift your perception, and open your heart. There are physical, psychological, spiritual, and health consequences to belief rigidity. Holding tight to a belief can result in disease, fear, uncontrollable rage, suffering, and despair. Rigid belief systems are the source of increasing national, cultural, and species dysfunction—whether in the form of climate change denial or cultural-religious wars over what is the right way to live. Nothing will change until we perceive a different road, 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 that lead to those possibilities. For your health, as well as your fluidity in response to a changing world, it makes sense to cultivate receptivity.
“Don’t believe everything you think,” said 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. Fifteen years ago I began a practice of transfiguration.[i] Each morning before rising I’d find the light in my heart, a small golden light, and see it get bigger and bigger until it filled my whole aura, my energy bubble. I was learning to find, experience, and become my true essence. Perceiving from that place changed everything. But I had to start over each day. I wondered why it wasn’t 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 you have a supportive community, feel transported in body and spirit, and experience how your practice eases your lives, your old habits get in the way; you struggle and resist. “You have to be able to receive love in order to give love,” says one of my teachers, Sandra Ingerman. While I had heard her say this many times, one day I got it: I had been focusing my love 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, consciously, 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. I discovered four major barriers to being receptive:
Belief. When you do not believe you are lovable, worthy, or deserving of love, for whatever reasons, it is pretty hard to receive love.
Lack of trust. When you assume that you are separate from others, that you are in competition, or that others are more capable than you are, you are not likely to trust that they are supporting you; you are not likely to receive love or compliments.
Habits of response. When someone says, “That’s a pretty dress,” and you reply “Oh, it’s old,” you are discounting the compliment given to you. When the boss says, “Great job,” and you doubt his intentions, your habits of response—the shadows of old patterns—are getting in the way of your receptivity. Those habits keep you from enjoying and being present in the moment.
Disconnection. When you don’t experience the aliveness and consciousness in a plant, redwood, or hummingbird, it doesn’t occur to you that they might be giving back to you. In contrast, in animist cultures that understand everything is alive, reciprocity and receptivity are at the core of behavior, culture, and perception.
We all have myriad ways of being unreceptive. If you find yourself making excuses, feeling “confused,” blaming, taking things personally (putting ego over receptivity), indulging in illusions, or expressing rigidity in your beliefs, pay attention. What’s underneath those responses? Can you bypass the “thick armor of doubt and skepticism that exists in the conscious mind?” If you know what Enneagram type you are, check out this blog that identifies type-based obstacles to receptivity. 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. Try to keep identifying those unconscious beliefs—more powerful even than your skepticism—and step around them.
You can enhance your receptivity by developing the qualities of listening and witnessing. You can shift your receptivity in the ways you use language and trust your insights. As you look at the world, your family, your coworkers, your friends, and your neighbors, you can cultivate your receptivity by being open minded, flexible, and non-judgmental. Even when another person’s past behavior might seem to warrant judgment, avoid it: my growing-up family was severely damaged and torn apart by constant judgments (no fun). Practice making your energy field permeable, taking in what’s appropriate to you and keeping out what doesn’t belong. Accept the gifts given to you and let them flow! Excerpted from Weave the Heart of the Universe into Your Life: Aligning with Cosmic Energy by Meg Beeler.
Meg Beeler—Author, Shamanic Guide,and Spiritual Mentor—helps you heal your spirit and find your luminous presence through mentoring, training, healing, and community ceremony. A lifelong explorer of shamanic, animist, and meditative consciousness, Meg is the creator of Energy AlchemyTM, founder of Earth Caretakers, and author of Weave the Heart of the Universe into Your Life: Aligning with Cosmic Energy. She works with clients worldwide, and lives on Sonoma Mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.megbeeler.com
[i] 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.
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