The conundrum that vexes many heart-centered people
I was speaking with a client recently, and through our conversation it was clear that she had been aware of things that others around her didn't seem to notice. She could tell when something was up with her loved ones even when they tried to hide it, and she seemed to have a sense of what these people needed. She could see them, or really, she could feel them. She was well aware of the pain around her, and also of the beauty and love that others sometimes could not see. It became clear: she has always been an empath.
"Now that I know I'm an empath, does this mean that it is my job to save people if I know they are suffering?" she wondered.
No, it does not. We do not have to whoosh in and rescue loved ones and strangers, because of this intuitive awareness we feel in our bodies. We also do not have to completely block ourselves off from the world, and disassociate to protect ourselves. There is a middle way. A path that we can traverse where we remain connected in our hearts and conscious of what is unfolding around us, but we remained grounded in what is our true responsibility: ourselves. We remember that also applies to everyone else. It isn't always easy to practice this when have been living the majority of our lives enmeshed or detached. But with a fair dose of self-compassion, and patience, we can connect with the strength and kindness we need to navigate life fully present. We will be exploring this life-long practice, and supportive wisdom to soak in during the Empowered Empath series which begins a week from today.
If you are curious, you can learn more here.
Feel the pull to step in with us? Three spots remain available as of today. Book & pay online, email, or call 608-335-1934.
No matter whether you find yourself with empathic abilities or not, I invite you to notice if you have any tendencies to take responsibility for other people's problems, or to distance yourself from discomfort. Explore for yourself ways that you can maintain autonomy for your experience, and surrender any burdens outside of that. I'd love to hear what you notice. Share your comments below, or send me an email.
Hope you are well,
Spring invites the shedding of protective layers to allow for new growth.
Spring is on our doorstep, my friends. Do you feel your vital energy stirring within you as the daylight and glimmer of warmth in the air calls us to awaken our sleepy bones? As you invite in this freshness into your being, and shake off sluggishness, we can easily get swept up in the joy, excitement, and eagerness of what is to come, desires for connecting with the outside world, and plans to take action in your life and the broader community. Spring coaxes the fire within us. While this energy of the season can be a beautiful and important catalyst, there is an aspect of this early phase of the season that, as a culture, we often overlook: tenderness.
The buds on the trees have begun to shed the protective waxy coating that shielded them from the winter chill, but have yet to unfold. Many of the seeds within the ground are breaking down their growth inhibiting hormones that have kept them dormant, and are preparing to reach for the soil's surface, while some resilient pioneers have already extended their bright green shoots out of our monochromatic landscape. A new cycle of life is emerging. Exciting, indeed. But we must acknowledge this life is still vulnerable. Without the appropriate conditions, some of this life will not make it through the season. A couple of hard frosts, hungry critters, or a good natured but absent-minded person trampling on the young sprouts may impede the growth of these plants. There is a softness, openness, and rawness to this process. Here they are, bursting forth. Will they have the opportunity to develop the strength, the roots, and perhaps, eventually, bear fruit? Time will tell.
In the natural world, and even the human community, many of these occurrences are beyond our control. Pause for a moment. Does this bring up a helplessness in you? Breathe into this space. Especially with the conditions present in the world now, and the movements unfolding, there can be a sense of urgency, of "this needed to be done ages ago!", of our desperation for change fueling our action. The fire awakening within us is supported by this energy of spring. But if we don't acknowledge the tenderness, helplessness, or vulnerability within our experience, we can act without full consciousness and connection, without the care and support that we need to move into effective action.
So, let's take a moment to pause and reflect.
Without the support that we need, we can feel susceptible to the world around us. But if we allow ourselves to receive nurturance for what is coming forth within us, the softness and tenderness has a resiliency that can break away the barriers we had in place, and withstand the hardships.
From Verse 43 of The Tao Te Ching,
"The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.
That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action."
(Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
There you are, my friends. I'd love to hear what those questions bring up in you, and how you balance the duality of the fire and action of Spring, with the tenderness, and rawness of it. If you feel inspired to share, comment below or send me an email. Always a pleasure to hear from you.
Blessings for love, resiliency, comfort, and growth for you, and us all,
A PSA from your friendly neighborhood Reiki Practitioner.
Happy Friday Friends!
Chances are, since you have found your way to Embrace Your Essence, that growing as a human being is of at least some importance to you. Sometimes, learning a new way of being and operating in the world is a key part of our healing. For you, what is it you may be working on within yourself? Whether your intention is to pause instead of reacting out of old patterns, cultivate self-love, develop awareness of your body–mind connection or intuition, or even to choose nourishing foods over those that provide momentary satisfaction, I would like to remind you today that it is a practice.
The process of integrating these new ways of being can sometimes look uneven, and it is easy to get discouraged if we are not doing as well as we would like. Some days we flourish, and are like gurus, ready to council others how to practice what we have learned. Other days, we completely forget our intention and fall into old patterns, only to realize we missed the boat a few days later. Some days, despite our best intentions we still can't execute what we were hoping for. Other days are marked small successes. The progression can look a little messy.
No matter what your practice is feeling like for you today, remember that it is normal. Shifting our consciousness takes time. Celebrate if you are making strides, and offer patience and kindness to yourself if it is feeling like a struggle. Just like in weight training, it takes time and consistency to build the muscles of compassion, patience, awareness, and love. Even if you fall, the more you return to your practice, eventually the more ease you will find there.
What is your practice, and how has it felt for you over time? Share on in the comments or send me an email. Looking forward to hearing from you.
From a fellow traveler,
The key step to allow forgiveness to be more than an intellectual thing.
I hope life is finding you well as fall rolls on, and the winter and holiday season approaches for those of you celebrating. Now is a time we can take a deep breath before it all unfolds, and perhaps prepare to dive a little deeper, and turn inward in harmony with the seasons. So as we settle into a steady rhythm again, and take a nice exhale with relief and joy, I would like to pick up where we left off, and explore the nature of forgiveness.
What does it mean to forgive? Many have heard the saying that we forgive, not to excuse the behavior that initiated our grievance, but to free ourselves from the pain. The process of forgiving brings about healing. But how do you do it? Is it enough to think "I forgive you," or to say it?
Healing through forgiveness begins with the desire to find peace, and also claim your power in the situation. This may seem obvious, but I feel it is important to mention, because there may be times that we are still hooked on making someone else (or ourselves) the perpetrator and blaming them. In such a case we aren't even ready to consider viewing the circumstance in another way. A part of us may be juicing the effect of being a victim (we actually feed off of the biochemical response in our body).
When we are ready to find peace, and step into this power, it may not necessarily look like what you would expect at first. The first step in taking this responsibility is to tend to your feelings. What emotions does the said situation elicit, and how do you experience these feelings in your body? Perhaps you feel anger, sadness, despair, rage, powerless, or indignant. How is that emotion currently "living" in your body? Meaning, as you experience the emotion do you feel a flush of warmth in your face and torso, and weakness or emptiness in your chest, heaviness in your head, etc? Once you become aware of what sensations are associated with your emotions and this event, the practice is in allowing yourself to fully feel it exactly as it is in your body, without trying to push it away, or change it into something else. This may take some time. Be patient with yourself. Breathe.
After several minutes, a few hours, or maybe even days (there is no set timeline) of allowing yourself to be with how you feel, eventually the charge of the emotion will start to dissipate. It is possible that you may need to repeat this step several times. There may be more layers of the emotion, or the sensation might morph into something else. Just continue the practice of being with whatever it is, and breathe. If you have been carrying this resentment or guilt around for a while, may take some time.
Once the smoke clears, it is likely you will be able to access a deeper understanding of yourself, what was going on for you at the time, and if there is a nugget of wisdom there for you. You may also be able to see any other individuals involved, or the situation itself from another perspective. There may be lessons here to integrate regarding having healthy boundaries, or self-care. Make note of what you notice.
This is the space where true forgiveness is possible. A state of being where we offer ourselves the attention and compassion we've needed, and a willingness to see and understand the situation from a lens of a broader truth. From here, peace can grow.
So, what has been your experience with forgiveness? Have you been able to find peace with situations which once upset you? If so, what has supported you in doing so? If you apply the above process to cultivate forgiveness, and are willing to share your experience, I'd love to hear from you. Please comment below or send me an email.
Wishing you all deep peace, and a beautiful Thanksgiving.
Our body gives us signs when something is off.
One of the things I am most grateful for during my years of practicing Reiki is that my awareness of what is going on in my body has deepened. When I was young, if I would have pain in my arm, I could hardly pin-point where, let alone feel what the sensation what like. It wasn't until I was in college, forcing myself through a relationship that I knew from the start didn't serve me (or the other person), that I had a crash course in the body/mind connection. At some point during this long-distance relationship, I developed TMJ (my jaw would pop when opening it, and I could barely open my mouth to eat). It was causing me a fair amount of pain, and I wasn't able to eat many foods, because of the lack of range of motion.
I was able to go out to visit my then boyfriend at the time, and the TMJ got worse, I could barely open my mouth. Shortly after I got back, my mom set up an appointment for me to see a physical therapist to help me with the TMJ. To my good fortune, this therapist practiced CranioSacral Therapy (which works with the energy flow of the body). At the time, I knew nothing about it, nor holistic medicine, let alone intuition, or the body/mind connection. During this session, I started to feel chills flowing through my legs even though the practitioner was working at my head and neck. How curious, I thought. After the half hour session, I was able to open my mouth nearly all the way, and the range of motion in my neck was significantly improved. It was incredible! I felt so much better!
A month or so later, my then boyfriend and I broke up, and the rest of the tension in my jaw, neck, and other areas of my body started to faded away. It was at this time I finally realized that my body's wisdom was telling me that something was not right, that there was such a thing as intuition, and that when I ignore the signs my body gives me, that they will get stronger and stronger until I acknowledge them.
Now close to ten years later, having devoted much of my time to learning how to listen to this inner wisdom that I never knew I had, I can feel the subtle energy flowing through me. I can feel chills of recognition, truth, and love, and also the subtle pangs and shifts of energy when my thoughts or habits get too steeped in anger, judgment, self-pity, etc. They are like little signals that tell me, "Look here, something is not quite right. You are not in alignment with who you really are when you get caught in thoughts of jealousy, when you feel you are not worthy of love, or when you continue to feed that habit." It gives me a chance to acknowledge what is going on and then choose feed that which serves life. Sometimes the external circumstances need to change, but the vast majority of the time it is more about a shift in how I am perceiving my situation. I create my own pain or liberation to the degree that I am in harmony with the flow of life energy verses how much I try to force things to go the way I want or think they should go. Growing to understand this has been a saving grace.
We all have this ability to connect with the inner wisdom of our bodies and intuition. Perhaps you have been listening to your inner guidance for sometime, or perhaps you may be more like I was, stumbling through life not sure what path to follow. We all are where we are, and there is no right or wrong. At any moment you can choose to listen more deeply. For each of us, it may show up in unique ways. But the key is to know that you have a guide, and the more to choose to tune in, listen, and acknowledge, the more this wisdom will shows itself more clearly, and the more able you will be able to interpret its signals when they show up. It takes time, but it is well worth the investment in yourself.
As a culture, we don't often teach, let alone discuss how to deepen this connection with our body's wisdom, but there are several practices that will support this. Receiving or practicing Reiki and other forms of energy work will strengthen your body awareness, as well as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, QiGong, and massage for example.
Do you have a connection to your body's wisdom? How does it speak to you? Share your comments here.
If you would like any support in understanding your body/mind connection, I would be happy to explore this with you in a session.
Everything we communicate can be boiled down to a "please" or a "thank you".
Over the past couple years I have been studying the practice of Nonviolent Communication (it also goes by the names Compassionate, or Conscious Communication). This way of connecting was originally shared by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1970s. As the teachings begin to sink in more deeply for me and replace old habits of communicating, I have been humbled by the healing power of this approach, and I wanted to share some of the juicy nuggets of wisdom with you.
The core tenets focus on identifying how we are feeling, uncovering the universal human need underneath it, and then offering empathy for any unmet needs.
Come on a journey with me as we explore this.
For a few moments take nice deep breathes and connect with your body. Tune into what feelings are alive within you.
Some examples are: content, relaxed, exhausted, frustrated, sad, joyful, disappointed, lonely, intriqued, calm, happy, inspired, anxious, torn, overwhelmed, confused, scared, ashamed, impatient, numb, angry, grateful, encouraged, vulnerable, etc.
Note: If something like "I feel so taken advantage of!" comes up, this is a thought and interpretation, not a feeling. In such a case, might you be feeling angry, indignant, sad, disappointed, etc? Acknowledge the presence of the thought, and try to to redirect yourself to the feeling that is within the thought.
Have you identified at least one to three feelings that resonate for you? There may be more, and they may seem contradictory. That is okay. Write these feelings down if it is helpful for you.
In Marshall Rosenberg's work, he says that feelings that are pleasant are a sign that a universal human need is being met, whereas feelings that are unpleasant are a sign of an unmet need within us. When we communicate with others in this space our words convey either a "please": help me meet this need for _________; or a "thank you": celebrate with me, my need for _________ has been met.
Now, let's take a moment to explore what needs may be underneath the feelings you identified. These universal human needs in their essence enhance our quality of life. Here are some examples of needs: safety, acceptance, harmony, predictability, integrity, connection, equality, appreciation, love, self-expression, understanding, respect, clarity, help and support, community, trust, intimacy, meaning and purpose, security, celebration, structure, autonomy and choice, space, fun and play, to matter and belong, mourning, freedom, kindness, responsibility, etc.
Returning to our example of, "I feel so taken advantage of!" we see that there are perhaps feelings of indignation, disappointment, and vulnerability, possibly because the needs for respect, kindness, and appreciation were not met.
As you tune inward, what unmet needs might your feelings be pointing you toward? And conversely, if you are feeling well, what might needs might your feelings be indicating that are being met?
Once you have identified your needs, write them down with the feelings you have identified. Acknowledge within yourself that you are feeling _________ because you are needing _______________ (or your needs for ___________ have been met).
Now, comes the true opportunity for healing. As you hold these needs in your heart, feel or imagine what it would be like if these needs were met. What would the experience of "respect", for example, feel like in your body if you had it completely? Imagine that you can breathe that quality into your being simply by thinking it, as if all the molecules of oxygen that enter your body are infused with ________. Continue to breathe and soak the energy of this in for as long as you like.
So, how do you feel?
Share your experience in the comments or email to share with me privately.
To learn more, read Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication, or visit the Wisconsin Empathy Guild's website to connect with practice groups in the area.
It may seem chaotic when viewing all that is shifting in the world right now, and the variety of perspectives and feelings that are being expressed. Easily we can get swept up in the flurry of emotion and reactivity and not know what to do. There are an infinite number of paths we can choose, and we really never know for certain what the future will hold. It is in these times, especially, that remembering to return home to ourselves is so beneficial. For as we all know, our self is the one thing we do have control over. We choose how we we want to show up for ourselves and others as the events of the world unfold.
Take a moment to reflect on how you have been treating yourself lately. Have you been paying attention to your thoughts and feelings? If you have been feeling angry, or sad how have you been taking care of yourself? Do you feed those thoughts by agreeing that you are a victim, or make yourself bad or wrong for feeling such a way? Perhaps, you practice observing your thoughts, or offering loving kindness to the parts of you that are angry or scared. Perhaps, you find yourself somewhere in between.
No matter what your experience has been like recently, I encourage you to practice being with yourself with kindness, respect, and compassion. You may do this with the words you say to yourself, the images you hold in mind, or perhaps how you move or feel your body. When you come across a part of you that may be lost out in the cold, can you welcome it like you would a dear friend, offering it space to be in the comfort of your heart, and hear its story? Can you welcome the parts of you that are so enraged they are ready to start fires? Will you give them gentleness, and a space to air their concerns and pain, and perhaps explore constructive, peaceful action for moving forward? This willingness to acknowledge what is true within us, is often enough to heal many aspects of ourselves. As you explore this within yourself, you are practicing that which has the potential to heal our interactions with others. The greater our capacity to be with our own pain, the greater our capacity to be with others' pain. We all just want to be heard, loved, and understood. Once these needs have been met, then we can really get down to business in addressing the other issues of the world, together.
Plus, the good news is, the more you practice tuning in to your inner world, and the parts of you, the more clarity comes into your life. You may get guidance from your inner wisdom about ways you can positively influence the world that are unique to you. Also, by transforming any resentment, righteousness, frustration, or grief you uncover, you become infinitely more effective in the world. Even if you never left your home or spoke to anyone, this change in your energy field would radiate outward and benefit the whole Earth. The buoy of the collective consciousness of the world rises every time we each find a greater level of peace within. We are so much more connected that we often remember. There is hope.
Feed your soul. Love yourself. Tend to your aching. Trust that your part is enough. You will know. You're doing a great job.
Blessings Dear Ones,
As I rest my bones on our couch at the clinic, listening to David Ison's The Musical Body (I highly recommend this sound healing album), I find myself drifting off in meditation gazing at a group of trees out our window. The setting sun casts a glow on their graceful bends as the branches reach in exultation toward the sky. Their expression convinces me they, too, are dancers. The beauty of this community of trees across the creek strikes me, how they gently command presence as one. As I drift, my mind slows, my inner world begins to still, and I fill up with each breath. Ever since I was a child, the act of gazing contemplatively out the window at nature has been an innate meditation, though I didn't realize that's what I was doing until recent years. I am grateful for these moments, for they bring me into the present, noticing the details of the trees, and also the details of what is going on within me. Often, I receive clarity during this stillness, as well as greater resolve, and refreshment.
Winter is a time that naturally draws us into a state of stillness and reflection. Just as the outside world becomes buried, insulated, barren, and dark, there is a call to draw our eyes within, allow the roots from ideas we have planted to seep into our consciousness, and save and replenish our reserves of energy for the time that will be most effective to use them. For many of us, this season is a time we feel called to "hibernate", to sleep and dream a little more. This is an instinctive thing. For the great exhale of energy we expend during the warmer months, we need a deep and nourishing inhale, otherwise we become breathless. Find ways to inhale this winter. Feed your soul. Allow yourself to become still, quiet, to let your screen go blank. Gaze out the window, absorb yourself in the aroma and swirls of a soup being stirred, see if you can hear the earth breathing while walking in the woods. Honor your innate way of meditating. There are many ways to go within. Create the space for yourself to do so often, and for as long as it takes. You deserve it. And, enjoy.
Many blessings on your inner travels, and Happy Solstice and Holidays to those of you celebrating this time of year.
Here in the United States, election season is in full swing. As debates and interviews air, articles release, and opinions are displayed on social media, chances are you feel a mix of emotions: fear, concern, frustration, judgement of those with other views, righteousness, hope for something better, a desire to do something, ambivalence, hopelessness, etc.
Regardless of your political stance, the dynamics that are at play in our country give us each a chance to look at ourselves more deeply. What we see playing out between the candidates, their parties, and supporters mirrors the conflicts that occur within our own mind. As human beings, we all have a tendency to get caught up in blame games (making others wrong, and punishing ourselves with guilt for things we have done). We can inflate ourselves as a protective mechanism, so others do not see our faults, and insecurities. We dwell on the past. We divide ourselves into Us verses Them, making one group the good guys, and the other the enemy.
As many of the collective energies are feeding off of these divisive dynamics, how can we shift to a more aware space, and perhaps even heal? The key begins with embracing our humanness, our vulnerability. In order to really connect with ourselves, and then in turn with each other, we must be authentically honest, and real. What is underneath our desires? Can we gracefully and compassionately acknowledge the mistakes we have made in our life, and allow others forgiveness for theirs? Are we willing to see that at the core of our views, the vast majority of us have a need to feel safe, cared for, and loved?
When we give ourselves the safe place to truly acknowledge all parts of ourselves, those we like, those we don't, and those that we pretend aren't even there, we create ripe space to transform. We start to see more clearly what things really are. We begin to connect. We begin to listen with willingness and respect. We begin to heal.
No matter what you are feeling now, are you willing to allow compassion to seep in for yourself? How would that look, feel, or sound for you?
Share your thoughts of how you are cultivating compassion during this election session here.
If you would like support in this process, feel free to schedule a session with me.
We are all in this together,
Delight in Your Aliveness
The French have a term "joie de vivre", meaning a delight in being alive, a carefree enjoyment of life, or exultation of spirit. After facing some of my own "demons" over the last few months—a fear of loss, and death—I had the realization that an antidote for many of our fears is to live fully alive. Embrace the present moment for what it is, allow ourselves to be who we really are, follow the little (or perhaps strong) nudgings of our heart, love those in our life fully, and be willing to express that, and delight in the simple pleasures of life. If we allow ourselves to be all that we are, gracefully let go of what we are not, and let our day be guided by our inner joy, our fears dissolve.
Perhaps you will find it as the wind grazes your face, in the scent of blooming milkweed, from the kindness of a stranger, watching a child squeal with glee, making a step toward that trip you have always wanted to take, giving in to your soul's urging to pick up a cello and explore how the friction of the bow on strings produces pure sound, or picking up the phone to repair a relationship with a beloved.
My question for you is, how can you step into this joie de vivre in some way today? How can you allow yourself to be more fully You? If you feel inspired, practice this in a least a small way everyday.
Share how you personally cultivate joie de vivre in the comments below.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence