Yes, that was not a typo. Receiving is an art.

We do not typically come by receiving naturally. Why?

Because we all have an Unworthy Self lingering in us somewhere. We really have difficulty receiving gifts and unconditional love and random acts of kindness. We do not believe that we are completely worthy of love and kindness, and then, when it does comes along, we will not accept it, because it does not line up with our belief. You might notice how uncomfortable you are expressing gratitude. Eye contact may even be difficult. Many of us say, “you didn’t have to,” when someone offers us a gift. When a compliment comes our way, we internally cringe and think, “if they only knew the real me, they wouldn’t say that.” Or, you may turn it around and compliment the other person right back to take the attention off of yourself alleviating the need to sit in the uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing. It is like passing a hot potato.

What would happen if we just said a heartfelt, “thank you,” and really took in the love that was being offered us (because we are really worthy of all the love in the universe). Freaky, stuff!

This is the season of giving. Whether we are celebrating a religious or secular holiday, we typically find ourselves buying gifts this time of year in Western culture. Santa Claus is actually the spirit of giving. While many of us love to give to others, we are not so great at sitting in the energy of receiving. However, when you give a gift which is not actually received, giving them becomes a little tedious. If you know you are a giver and struggle to receive, recognize you are depriving the other givers out there the joy of giving. You have to have both giving and receiving for there to be any magic.

People often argue that Santa isn’t real. I have to tell you that Santa is real. He is an energetic embodiment of the spirit of giving and receiving. He is as real as you and me. When you feel the magic of the season (e.g. your gift has been genuinely received or you have truly received a gift given out of love), you know you are standing in the presence of Santa Claus. Feeling this energy is truly extraordinary and mystical.

To fully receive a gift given to us by another (this gift could be an object, a deed, a gesture, a compliment, love), one must open one’s heart. This can be difficult for those who are more guarded. We must allow ourselves to feel the energy in which the gift was given. The actual gift item does not matter. We tend to look at the object and assess its value to us. If we don’t like it or need it, we might feel a little disappointed. We might even start conspiring about what to do with the present. We say, “Thank you!” However, we do not really open our heart to take in the gesture of love and kindness offered by the other person.

We get this concept when a young child gives us a gift they made by hand. You know when you get that lump of clay from art class or crayon drawn card from your little one, you see in their eyes the enthusiasm and love they have just handed you. How can you not respond? Your heart just melts. Despite the items lack of value or aesthetic qualities, you cherish it because of what it represents, the child’s unconditional love and desire to give you something. If you watch a child hand over a gift, you might notice they really look for your genuine response. They peer into your eyes desperate to find that spark of delight. They want nothing more than to see your joy. If you do not take in the gift, they know. They have the radar.

I will never forget when my daughter who was in 7th grade was volunteering in the kindergarten classroom. She received a little truck made out of paper, straws, and buttons, from one of the little boys she assisted in class. The little boy adored her, and out of sheer love, made this truck (if you could even call it a truck) for my daughter. She was so moved by the gift, the funky little paper truck still sits in a place of honor on her shelf. It has been there for over 4 years. I don’t think she will ever not have that truck on display.

As you give and receive this season, we encourage you to really open your heart to feel the energy in which the gift was offered. Someone thought enough of you and your relationship to add you to their list of important people who are gift-worthy. What could be more wonderful to know that someone loves you so very much. Even if is just a kind gesture or a well wish, take it in. Enjoy your right to experience the love being offered you. When you do, you will not only be reciprocating the kindness being offered, you will begin to delight in the energy that is receiving.

The season of giving is really a chance to practice the art of receiving.