December is biggest month of giving and receiving. Often when we think of giving and receiving we imagine contributing our favorite dish at a family gathering or a colorfully wrapped present from a loved one. But giving and receiving encompass more than just physical things like food and gifts. We are constantly giving and receiving from the people and the world around us. Every day we are letting in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the emotions and thoughts of those around us. In reverse we are breathing out carbon dioxide, eliminating food wastes, and sending out positive or negative energy though our own emotions and thoughts.
Most people have seen the Chinese black and white Tai Ji symbol which represents the interplay of yin and yang – opposing forces that interconnect and balance each other. In the image the black represents yin/receiving, and the white represents yang/giving. There is a black dot in the whitest area and a white dot in the blackest area. The colors flow into each other and never completely separate from each other. This dynamic flow is said to be present everywhere in the universe, including the world around us and within ourselves.
One instance in nature where this cycle can be seen is in the continual flow of seasons from winter (yin) to summer (yang) to winter (yin) again. In our bodies the cycle of sleeping (yin) to awakening (yang) then back to sleeping (yin) is an example of how this balance is integral to our well being. We all know how tired and worn out we feel if something throws us out of balance and we don’t get enough sleep.
This cycle can be seen in numerous other parts of our lives, including in the case of giving and receiving. Like in the example above, to maintain optimal health, we must also maintain a balance of giving and receiving in our lives. Do you often feel drained this time of year? The winter season is an important time of year to nourish our energy reserves. Yet often this is one of the busiest times of year. We can feel we are giving too much of our time and energy without recharging with quiet and contemplation. If you are feeling this way, it’s important to reflect on areas where your life is out of balance. Then you can figure out what you can give or receive to create harmony.
A nice exercise this time of year is to go through your closets and pull out things you no longer wear. Sort through your children’s toys and get rid of the ones they don’t use anymore. Often creating physical space can help your brain feel less cluttered as well and can give you more emotional and mental bandwidth.
Take some time to reflect on the ideas you hold about yourself. Ask if yourself if this still applies to your present day life. Be honest with yourself. We often get stuck in past patterns of belief that no longer are serving us and are outdated.
Re-evaluate your relationships. Are you holding on to acquaintances or friends that feel draining to you? Is there anyone you need to release from your life to make room for something else? Are you involved in a group or activity that doesn’t feel like it’s adding to your life anymore? Spend time with people and activities that nourish you. Invite some friends over to just to laugh and have fun. Join a group and do what makes you feel energized. Surround yourself with positive energy as much as possible to build up your inner resources.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If someone offers to give you a hand accept it. If you try to do everything yourself, you can get overwhelmed, feel frustrated, depressed, and/or anxious. Take time for yourself to recharge. Take a luxurious bath. Walk in nature. Have some quiet time to meditate and reflect. By recharging your battery you will have more to give to others.
By learning to give and receive in harmony you will be able to live more deeply and have balance on all levels. It may seem hard at first, but with practice it will become as easier. Bringing awareness is the first step. Soon you will find yourself feeling relaxed and at ease more frequently.