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We Often Forget that We Must Receive as well as Give

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury

To be whole and well, we must allow our cups to be re-filled

Each of us is indeed like a cup that is both poured from and filled. It is important for us to maintain awareness of our moments of pouring (giving) and being filled (receiving) in order to stay whole and well as we move through our days because both are essential to a life well-lived.

If, as Ray Bradbury says above, we are “constantly and quietly being filled,” why do we need to pay attention to that? In my experience, we can get so busy doing and working and giving that we often forget to slow down and take a break. We need to be mindful of putting ourselves into situations where we can receive. Before we get into what these situations might be, let’s take a second to think about what being filled feels like.

What does being filled feel like?

Words that come to mind for me are: restored, centered, awakened, awash in gratitude, rested, and invigorated.

While your descriptive words might be different, I suspect the sensations we feel when we have been filled are very similar. When we’re filled, we feel open-hearted, open-handed, generous, patient and even powerful. These feelings are almost miraculous when moments before we might have been feeling the exact opposite way – a little tight, a little harried, a little weak or wobbly.

How do we get filled up?

So, when and how do we get filled up? While it’s not quite as simple as pulling into a filling station for gas, it’s actually not much harder once you’ve figured out what fills you up. Thinking about all the people I’ve had the privilege to teach over the years, I can say with certainty that what fills us will differ – sometimes wildly.

Some find peace and energy while rock climbing or gardening. Others while walking through their neighborhood each evening, hiking each weekend or searching for shells along the beach as often as they can. Still others sit in a pew each week or on a meditation cushion each day and stand up filled to brimming with gifts to share with the world. I unroll my yoga mat. My husband puts on his waders and steps into a stream to try to outsmart a trout.

Whatever it is for you, once you’ve figured that out, you schedule it (and DO it) – as often as you possibly can. As hard as it is to be firm with yourself about this, you absolutely must prioritize self-care. Otherwise, you simply will not be able to care for the people, tasks and things that fill your life the way you want to care for them.

How do we pour “the beautiful stuff out?”

And this is exactly what I think Bradbury is talking about when he encourages us to “tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” When we’re filled up, it’s much easier to pour the beautiful stuff out into world around us in what we do and say and think. Not to mention in how we behave and love and coexist.

Some people do this quite obviously in their work. Pastors, teachers, counselors, dog walkers, human resources professionals, gardeners and nannies, to name a few.

Even if this is less obvious for you (my husband is an attorney for an insurance company and he would put himself in this category), you can still do your work beautifully, or as the kind of person you yearn to be. You can still be patient. You can still listen attentively. You can still respond to others lovingly. You can still be mindful. You can still do what you do well – with attention to detail, mindful of the ripple effects of your actions, aware of the bigger picture.

“Pouring” can also be filling

I’m going to let you in on a secret. While we still need to take care of ourselves, we need to add “Tipping ourselves over to pour the beautiful stuff out” to our list of ways we fill ourselves up. That’s right. Sharing the best of who we are with the world – our ideas, our hopes, our passions, our concerns – can leave us feeling filled.

Go ahead, give it a try.

If you’re looking for a way to fill yourself back up so you can better give to others, schedule some of Amy’s yoga classes into your life.