"The Ocean Refuses No River."
This beautiful chant was taught to me when I was becoming a yoga teacher at Kripalu in 2003. I have no idea what teaching our leaders were offering or the context, but I remember this morning more clearly than any other of my training. Our group sang this in rounds, with drums and it has lived in me ever since, surfacing in the days that I most need to deepen in my understanding of receiving.
Recently, this chant has been waking me up in the morning. I've been humming it during my days. I sing it when I'm tending altars in the morning, considering, again, what it means to receive.
Are you open to receive?
Or, do you struggle to receive? Maybe I should ask, do you struggle to receive the goodness that life has to offer? Most women, maybe you, too -- receive criticism, the other shoe, abuse, dismissal with a set jaw and an expectation that there is more of that to come.
In my own life and in my coaching practice, I see a profound ongoing struggle with receiving. I often invite women to set an intention to open to receive. On an intellectual level, we may understand that when we ask to receive, we are opening to receive joy, ease, abundance, love, light, support and peace. But the shadow of the desire to receive is the fear of what else will arrive. What else must be endured in order to "receive" the goodness?
Filtering seems like wisdom.
On some level (like most women I know, including myself) you may be trying to filter what you receive -- blocking out what you don't want to receive: the anger, the hard words, the judgement, the pain, the shame, the devaluing... whatever it is, you may be unconsciously struggling to suppress, or keep the negative out of your experience.
Another facet of resisting is only seeing challenges and hard stuff because on some level, you don't believe you can have the abundance, the joy, the peace, the support, the love that you want. Why? Perhaps it's the context of modern culture, or you don't want to be a bad citizen, or make anyone jealous or have too much good stuff come your way. Because as much as we, as a culture, have an aversion to so-called negative emotions or circumstances there is an equal and opposite judgement of those who have it really, really good.
It's a lose-lose situation, no matter which way you lean.
Unfortunately, whether you are trying to block the negative or you are afraid to receive goodness for fear of judgement, It's a tight corner, it's uncomfortable. It's a brittle and exhausting space to be in. Goodness, joy and abundance are hiding in plain sight, but you aren't able to receive it and take it in because you are shut off from receiving in general or you've denied yourself the joy of receiving the good stuff.
These attempts to filter become cages of numbness and misery that, in my experience, truly suck the life out of living.
Becoming the ocean.
As I've considered this chant, and what it might mean to be the ocean that refuses no river, I've recognized my own willingness to receive the challenges and work with them consciously. I've recognized deeper layers of resistance to really, truly, deeply receiving the abundance and the good stuff out of fear of judgement - both my own and others.
So what would it mean to be the ocean? It is an exhalation. A softening of the entire body. It is a solid-gold awareness of the sacred resources that we have to welcome, and work wisely, with whatever life holds. It is a deep knowing that no one can choose the circumstances of life, but we can decide how we will respond. It is open arms, yes, but also a capacity to choose, to transform and to learn from what is here, right now -- both the exquisite and the challenging.
Funny enough, when I become the ocean, I find that what is present more often than not is the joy, the abundance, the sweetness, the love, the connection[- and the sense of purposeful contribution that I deeply enjoy. Yes, the challenges definitely are there and, when I am the ocean, I know exactly how to address the challenges: I can speak up, I can say no, I can feel it all the way through, I can learn from it, I can let it go, I can protest... and I can also widen the lens to see the goshawk soaring above the neighborhood. I can lean into the love of my family and friends. I can step outside and feel my connection to the earth. I can eat an avocado fresh from my tree or spend time with the roses.
In other words, you and I can make as much space for the incredible goodness of life on earth as we do for the problems and the challenges we face individually and collectively.
This is sanity.
In 12-step programs, they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. It is time to collectively recreate our relationship to receiving as women -- let's sink into the idea of being the ocean that refuses no river.
Learn this chant. Sing it with me. Get off of your phone, or your computer, and step outside. Stop over-identifying with what is wrong and gently open to what is right. Immerse yourself in water. Become the ocean and, yes, acknowledge and work consciously with the challenges but please affirm the joy, the goodness, the beauty and the love. Let yourself be nourished by the abundance that is within you and all around you.
Refuse no river, sister. Be the ocean.
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