If you walk in the mist, you get wet.” ~ Dogen, the great Zen master
I threw up every day before school when I was in the first grade.
I was painfully shy, very much an introvert, and afraid of just about everything and everyone. Oddly, though, I loved school—listening to what Ms. Brown was teaching us, as well as doing the assignments. I loved the tingly way my brain felt when it was pushed and stretched. And those school supplies? Don’t even get me started. My paper/pen/pencil/notebook/marker/eraser fetish continues in its full glory to this day.
So why was my tummy in such an uproar each morning? Why did I feel so anxious about being in an environment that I truly did enjoy?
It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I began to understand why I had had such a reaction to being in school in the first grade (or going away to summer camp).
On a lark, I attended a gathering of palm readers in Boston one afternoon. I had no idea what to expect and found the entire experience to be fascinating. I was curious what my outstretched palm would show; could this woman seated across from me tell me of great adventures in my future? Boundless love? Fortune? Long life?
She cradled my hand in hers and gazed downward. She immediately looked up at me with eyes soft with kindness and understanding. It turned out, she had a warning for me.
“Susie, listen to me … you must be very, very careful about who you are around. I can see just how much you soak up the energy of everyone you are near … good and bad. And, there will be some people who will gravitate toward you because of your light; they will seek your energy as their own and will drain you. Choose your company with the greatest of care.”
My light-hearted approach to an afternoon palm-reading session had turned into a heavy, foreboding lead blanket. I was scared at first by what she told me; it felt like a weird curse that doomed me to a life of warding off toxic vibes and energy vampires.
I walked through Boston’s Back Bay streets and cobblestone sidewalks, trying to sort out what the palm reader had said. The closer I got to my apartment in Beacon Hill, the more I realized the magnitude of the gift that the woman with the kind eyes had given me. She had imparted ancient knowledge that would continue to reveal its power to me over the decades.
Each block, more and more things started to make sense. This particular relationship, that colleague, this friend, that group, this experience, that party, this job … I experienced wave after wave of insight and understanding. So much was explained in profound ways.
The palm reader had given me the Rosetta Stone of unlocking energy’s impact on my every thought, feeling, action, and experience.
Thinking back to my experience in the first grade, I realized I had been absorbing all the other little energies in the room, and it was completely overwhelming and disorienting. It threw my entire system into a ziggy-zaggy, swirling mess. Each morning when I anticipated that energy landing, it made me nauseated.
Things came quickly to me in school, and several months into my first year, I had found a way to balance out the energy that was around me with the energy that was within me. None of that balancing work was conscious; it was my simply own survival mechanism.
Much later, I would learn that there is a word for a person like me who deeply experiences the emotions of others and is so highly tuned to others, they absorb external energy into their own: empath.
The more I understand the energetic fields we possess, the more I come to think that by that definition, we are all empaths to some degree or another.
Protecting our sacred energy is our most important job. Doing so is not just vital for our powers of creating, but for our overall wellbeing.
Consider this … What is bleeding into you? What are you bleeding into others?
As you begin your journey with understanding these answers, start close in. How you are feeling is your biggest indicator, and therefore, do not ignore your feelings or your intuition. Your mind may tell you stories about why you should be dating a certain person, joining a particular group, taking the alluring job, or hiring the seemingly talented assistant (all the while ignoring your misgivings about same), but your heart knows better. Listen to your heart.
Tips for Digging an Energetic Moat
1) If you are feeling off, edgy, or icky before a planned interaction with someone, stop and let all the feelings come through. Ask your intuition to give you insight into your feelings. Do not override your intuition; most likely, there’s something to unpack and understand.
2) If you are in a meeting and things go off the rails (someone’s energy is consuming you), and your brain has gone offline as a result, stop and call for a brief break. Separate from the others and find a place where you can be alone to collect yourself, jump start your brain, and get back in the saddle as the pack leader of your own energy.
3) If you have an energy hangover after leaving a certain person or experience, journal what happened. Look for clues. Is this a one-off occurrence or chronic?
Painful truth time … If you have something calling to your heart to create, and you continue to engage with activities that and people who make you feel bad, perhaps you are using the interaction to numb out/self-sabotage—preventing you from doing the creative work.
Hiding out from the world and our own creative force can offer an alluring and painful cocktail. We can throw distraction, interruption of thought, and numbing out into the shaker, and slug it down just as we are approaching a creative breakthrough.
And that’s the point. We can be afraid of our own creative power and find all kinds of ways to drain its color. Creativity happens a lot in the background of our thinking, as ideas, insights, and information bump into each other with chance encounters, eventually forming little, sprouting bonds.
Those seeds cannot take root if you continue to disrupt the fertile soil.
Learn what it feels like to be only in your energy for extended periods of time. See how that impacts your creativity, as well as your courage and willingness to create. Notice the increase of creative connection among ideas that have been packed away in boxes in the attic of your mind. Dust them off and dig inside.
If we entangle ourselves with energy that confuses, saddens, and/or depletes us, the creative force within us dims to a pale gray, dying ember. If we choose instead to hold loving boundaries for ourselves, focusing on protecting our sacred energy, we can connect to the divine in powerful ways that forge the smatterings of our creative energy into works that change worlds.