Category Archives: nervous systeme

Mind Games! Listen to You Gut!

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Unfortunately, there is a good chance that we have all been gaslighted by someone at some point in our lives, even if it was just on a small scale by someone we barely know.

Sadly, many fall victim to it within their intimate relationships, or even in dealings with “friends” or family members.

There is also a high chance that we will have failed to spot someone was playing this insidious mind game with us and until we fully understand it, there is a high chance that it could happen again.

One of the main reasons we may not recognise it is that many of us will fail to believe those we trust and love are capable of manipulating us (it is this denial that keeps the dynamic going.) Also, the gaslighter will most likely be highly skilled at covering their tracks, keeping things subtle and being a skilled master or mistress of deception.

Gaslighting is one of the most extreme, dangerous and effective forms of emotional and psychological abuse and is mostly carried out intentionally. Gaslighting is a game of mind control and intimidation that is often used by narcissists and sociopaths as a way of controlling, confusing and debilitating someone.

The term gaslighting was coined in the 1938 play Gas Light and the film adaptions that were then created helped to enhance its popularity.

In the play the husband used forms of manipulation in an attempt to drive his wife crazy, for example he deliberately dims the gaslights in the house but told his wife that she was imagining it. With the use of various tricks he tried to convince his wife that she was going insane and also that she was losing her memory.

The whole intention of gaslighting is to decrease someone’s self-esteem and self-confidence so they are unable to function in an independent manner. The person being gaslighted will eventually become so insecure that they will fail to trust their own judgment, their intuition and find themselves unable to make decisions.

Eventually the victim will become so unsure of what reality looks like that they become completely dependent on their abuser. The abuser will appear to the victim to be the only one to have a clear grip of their mind and also of what is going on around them.

The abuser will systematically and frequently withhold information and then deliberately alter facts to disorientate their victim.

They may also remove things from certain places and then deny doing so to destabilize and confuse the other person.

The abuser will refrain from mentioning specific details and then convince the other person that they had told them, so the victim thinks they are losing their memory or their mind.

The abuser will say something then ask their victim to repeat what it is they have said. When the victim repeats clearly word for word, the abuser will lie to say they haven’t said a particular word, or that they have spoken it in a different tone of voice to that of which the abuser heard. For example, the abuser may say something angrily or aggressively, but when the victim gets upset, they will completely deny having used this tone, quickly changing their voice to a gentler and calmer tone. The abuser may then accuse their victim of deliberately trying to hear everything they say in a negative way—even though the abuser knows they deliberately wanted to appear as aggressive and negative.

Often, the abuser will want to create levels of distrust within the relationship to make the victim feel they either are cheating, or would cheat at the first opportunity. They may say things to make their victim feel insecure and jealous, for example, deliberately mentioning a certain person in a way that makes it sound as though there is more going on behind the scenes. When the victim questions this, the abuser will accuse the victim of having trust issues and this will falsely further confirm in the victim’s mind that they have serious insecurities and also, that they are extremely paranoid.

The abuser will make up very convincing lies to deliberately upset the other person and then call them names, mock them and put them down for getting upset and for overreacting. The abuser will also make light of anything that the victim feels is important to make the victim’s opinions, life-choices and thoughts seem juvenile or that they are inferior to their own. It is likely that the abuser will laugh at or sneer at their victim, but when questioned, convince their victim that they were imagining it.

Some warning signs that gaslighting is taking place:

Apologizing. A victim of gaslighting will constantly be apologizing for doing things wrong, even if they have done nothing wrong. Feeling sorry for everything means that the accountability and responsibility for all perceived wrong-doings has been claimed by one person—the victim. This ensures the perpetrator remains innocent and the victim is continuously guilty.

Can’t Make decisions. The victim will find decision making increasingly difficult, as they will feel that whatever they choose will be the wrong choice. Everything they do or say is wrong, so they feel that they are no longer capable of making rational decisions about anything, so they will leave it up to their abuser. This just gives the abuser even more power and control and prolongs the toxic dance that is taking place between the two.
 
Change. Change is not always easy to notice, since most change happens bit by bit, so the process can feel very natural in some ways. However, if the victim thinks back to who they were before the relationship and who they are now, they will probably see significant differences.

Confusion. Victims of gaslighting will often be in a constant state of bewilderment and confusion. They find it very difficult to trust their own mind, and constantly doubt their thought process. Their instinct fails to kick in because whenever it does, it is very quickly told that it is wrong, so it becomes a silent tool that ensures the gaslighter remains on top of their game. The victim will know that there is something seriously wrong, but they will find it extremely difficult to work out what. The person being gaslighted will always be wondering if they are overly sensitive as they always feel triggered to react to the gaslighter’s behaviour.

Withdrawn. The one being gaslighted will become withdrawn and often reclusive as they feel so low and beaten down that they have little confidence to socialise with anyone. The victim will feel safer spending time alone than with other people, as when those around them question what is wrong, or what is happening within their relationship, the victim just will not have the answers to justify what is going on.

Due to either depression or severe anxiety, the victim will find it extremely difficult to function normally within society or even with close friends or family. The abuser at this stage has won the battle for control, as without anyone to confide in the victim will find it very difficult to work out that it is the abuser that is causing the damage. The abuser will not want anyone to figure out their game, so, they will work hard to make sure their victim becomes alienated from anyone who could offer support.

Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.

The gaslighter wants to appear superior to the one being gaslighted. By making their victim feel completely helpless with very low self-esteem, the abuser has complete domination over them, so they are very successful in manipulating their victim to get whatever it is they want. This can range from simply having their ego stroked by feeling like they are significantly better than the person they are with, and at the extreme end to being able to gain financial, sexual or material benefits as their victim feels too emotionally and mentally weak to fight back.

There are many reasons that someone would gaslight someone else, but it is always done for personal gain. The abuser has very little interest in their victim, other than using them for their own twisted benefit. When the victim becomes so low down that they are no longer of any great use to the gaslighter the relationship will die out. The abuser will distance themselves by ignoring their victim and using silent treatment as an intense form of emotional torture.

The victim will have no idea what to do to please or satisfy their abuser, and will often try anything to win over their abuser to regain the affection that was shown in the beginning stages. By now though, it is far too late. Any little amount of respect that the abuser had for their victim will have been completely depleted and it is very unlikely that the dynamic will change again.

The abuser will often walk away from their victim leaving them with a deep sense of frustration, shame, guilt, anger and often riddled with anxiety and depression. The victim is usually left in a vortex that they will struggle to climb out of, however, this will be compounded by a deep sense of relief that this vicious dance is over.

The abuser will walk away with a great feeling of satisfaction having won each and every battle and will move onto their next innocent victim with even more skill and experience, so they can begin this horrendous war once again.

The victim will very likely need counseling and a huge amount of support to build themselves back to a stage where they have confidence and can trust their own mind and intuition. It is imperative that the victim realizes that they have been a pawn in a very nasty game so they can let go of all the blame they have placed upon themselves and become familiar with the warning signs so that they do not fall victim again.

Anyone who has come through this type of experience will feel debilitated at first, however, they will only be temporarily weakened. They will bounce back stronger than before, having learned painful but valuable lessons along the way. The most important lesson—having complete faith in their intuition. As difficult as it is to accept, there are always red flags and warning signs in the initial stages.

When these signals show up, this is when we must trust completely in our instincts and never fail to listen to what our gut feelings are telling us. Our fight or flight reactions are there for a reason—to prevent us from entering into dangerous situations. When we feel an urgency to take flight—fly.

Fly far and don’t look back

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LAVENDER LEMONADE FOR HEALTH

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So many people suffer from anxiety and headaches these days. I believe this to be a mixture of our lifestyles and many of the changes that are taking place in our world that are pushing people to question what we’ve been doing as a society repetitively for many years. You know what I mean… that feeling that there is something more than just going to work, making money, coming home, eating and repeating it all. It may sound cliche, but it’s evident.

Deep down we can feel it, that something isn’t quite “right” with our world anymore and there’s a certain sense of freedom from it all that is calling us from deep within ourselves. Not knowing what that feeling is exactly or what to do, we sometimes will feel anxiety or overwhelm as we look at our lives. How do we deal with these things? There are a number of actions we can take to address the core issue which you can explore here.

It’s important that we begin to explore this feeling inside. That knowing that things can be different, that our world doesn’t have to be the way it is. Whether it is people getting fed up with the 9 – 5, feeling disconnected from themselves and others or feeling the desire to do what we love and are passionate about, our patience with avoiding these things is continuously growing thin. It’s time, it’s time to explore it!

Other than inspiring people to begin that exploration and letting them know “you’re not crazy, many people are feeling this too,” I also wanted to share something simple that can aid us while we are making more long-term adjustments.

Lavender Lemonade

Pure lavender oil is an incredible essential oil to use for your own health and wellness. It’s among the gentlest of essential oils, but also one of the most powerful, making it a favorite of households for the healing properties and uses of lavender essential oil. Lavender oil  has a chemically complex structure with over 150 active constituents, which explains its effectiveness at helping with a lot of health ailments. Lavender oil possesses amazing anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, analgesic, detoxifier, hypotensive, and sedative properties.

Florida researchers have found that lavender oil benefits include reducing anxiety and lowering pulse rates in nursing students taking stressful tests. And in hospital settings, lavender aromatherapy has been demonstrated to decrease pre-surgery distress and to be more relaxing than massage or merely resting.

Lavender essential oil has medicinal properties as well. It has been shown to reduce depression, improve insomnia and ease labor pains. And anecdotal evidence suggests that lavender oil benefits those with headaches, hangovers, sinus congestion and pain relief.
“Much prior research on lavender has focused on the administration of lavender via an olfactory route. The anxiolytic activity of lavender olfaction has been demonstrated in several small and medium-sized clinical trials. The efficacy of aromatherapy of lavender is thought to be due to the psychological effects of the fragrance combined with physiological effects of volatile oils in the limbic system. These calming effects of lavender oil and single constituents may be the origin of the traditional use of lavender. Lavender oil olfaction has been shown to decrease anxiety, as measured by the Hamilton rating scale,51 and can increase mood scores.



The following are selected examples of clinical trials on lavender aromatherapy:

  • Dunn and colleagues demonstrated anxiolytic activity of lavender oil aromatherapy in patients in intensive care units. Subjects received at least 1 session of aromatherapy with 1% lavender essential oil. Significant anxiolytic effects were noted in the 1st treatment, though 2nd and 3rd treatments did not appear to be as effective.
  • Alaoui-Ismaili and colleagues found that the aroma of lavender is considered by subjects to be very pleasant and is correlated with changes in the autonomic nervous system.
  • Tysoe and colleagues conducted a study of lavender oil in burner use on staff mood and stress in a hospital setting. A significant number of respondents (85%) believed that lavender aroma improved the work environment following the use of the lavender oil burners.
  • Diego and colleagues demonstrated that people receiving lavender oil (10%) olfaction for 3 minutes felt significantly more relaxed and had decreased anxiety scores, improved mood and increased scores of alpha power on EEG (an indicator of alertness), and increased speed of mathematical calculations.
  • Lewith and colleagues investigated the effects of lavender aromatherapy on depressed mood and anxiety in female patients being treated with chronic hemodialysis. The effects of aromatherapy were measured using the Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAMD) and the Hamilton rating scale for anxiety (HAMA). Lavender aroma significantly decreased the mean scores of HAMA, suggesting an effective, noninvasive means for the treatment of anxiety in hemodialysis patients.
  • Lavender aromatherapy, with or without massage, may also reduce the perception of pain and the need for conventional analgesics in adults and children, though more rigorously controlled trials are needed.

DIY Lavender Lemonade with Lavender Essential Oil

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 12 cups pure water
  • 1 drop lavender essential oil
  • 6 lemons, peeled and juiced
  • Lavender sprigs for garnish

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and chill. Add more water or raw honey if needed.

Other ways you can use Lavender Oil for Anxiety and Headaches

  • Mix 5 to 6 drops of Lavender essential oil to your bath water if you have dry skin.
  • Diffuse 10 to 12 drops of Lavender into the air during your workday for natural stress relief.
  • Add 2 drops of Lavender per ounce of your favorite lightly scented, unrefined organic oil (like almond oil or olive oil) for a body oil with all the benefits of lavender for improving your skin, relaxing your mind, warding off insects or helping you sleep.

THIS GIRL IS CRAZY AMAZING! Look into the X ray of an emptath’s mind, body and soul!

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I feel your pain: an empath’s guide to staying balanced

Do you often wonder which emotions are yours, and which belong to someone else? When people you care about are hurting, do you feel their pain so deeply that it’s hard to separate—even after they’re out of crisis mode? In relationships, do you donate so much of your own natural resources that you suffer from a chronic energy shortage? And with those you’re close to, is it hard to figure out what your own needs are—or even what you want for dinner? If the answer is yes, it’s highly likely that you’re an empath.

What does it mean to be an empath, and why is it fraught with these basic life challenges? Derived from the Greek “em” (in) and “pathos” (feeling), the term empathic means you’re able to “feel into” others’ feelings. But for empaths, this sensitivity is magnified to the nth degree. An empath is more tuned in, more empathic, and more sensitive to others than the average empathic person.

Being this tuned in, empathic, and sensitive is an asset, but it comes at great cost. Empaths are unusually vulnerable to emotional contagion, to “catching” others’ emotions in much the same way that you’d catch a cold or flu. But it doesn’t stop there: empaths get physically ill and suffer from anxiety, depression, chronic stress, professional burnout, and pain syndromes more often than their less empathic counterparts. And empaths often need lots of down time after social engagements, “recovery periods” at the end of a workday, or extended intervals of being alone. They can feel fundamentally different from others: As a conference-goer recently put it, “It’s like I’m an alien from another planet—no one understands me, and sometimes I don’t even get myself.” The empaths I work with often confess a deep-seated fear that this “alien thing” means something is wrong with them, that they’re somehow damaged.

As a clinical psychologist and yoga therapist, I’ve supervised psychotherapists, yoga teachers, and yoga practitioners for more than two decades—and a great many of them are empaths. I’ve helped them identify who they are and develop the skills to lead more balanced and healthy lives. And as a “recovering empath” myself, I’ve had to walk a parallel path. From this personal and professional immersion, I’ve found that it helps just to name the issue, to hammer a framework of understanding around it. And then, armed with tools from yoga, mindfulness, and psychology, we can work on balance. We can create a blueprint for physical well-being, emotional health, and more rewarding relationships.

Are you an empath? Here are five signs that you might be—and that your wonderful qualities, when left unchecked, can compromise your health.

THE EMPATH CHECKLIST:

1. You struggle with boundaries. It’s tough to know where you leave off and others begin, which experiences are yours and which come from others, when to open your channels for connection or to close them.

2. You’re often not in your body. For empaths, all that “feeling into” the experiences of others means that you dissociate: you leave your body or “shuttle” out of direct experience as a matter of course.

3. You’re vulnerable to emotional contagion. You absorb the emotions of others, from your boss and colleagues at work to your family and friends, and even the check-out guy at Whole Foods.

4. You’re prone to nervous system overdrive. It doesn’t take much—sometimes just a draining conversation or a party that’s loud and over-populated—to propel your nervous system into alarm mode.

5. You have trouble with intimacy. Your relationships are filled with intense bonding and equally intense separations. You can merge with others at the drop of a hat, but get so entangled that an “emotional exorcism” of someone you care about is often the only way to get your space.

Even when we’re aware of them, these patterns are hard to change. They’re wired into us deeply, at levels the conscious mind can’t reach. For that reason, to be a healthy empath requires daily practice. Here are the key issues and therapeutic practices that form the heart of the journey. The challenge is that much of the healing needs to happenthrough the body. And for empaths, the body can be a wasteland of sorts, a long-abandoned battleground.

Lest you think this is a “chick thing,” there are male empaths, too. It’s just that the process of natural selection draws empathic males underground more quickly than it does their female counterparts because sensitivity, empathy, and attunement to others are considered “feminine” traits. Male empaths can be ostracized for these qualities, and learn to bury them from sight. As a male empath in one of our therapeutics clinics recently said, “I take on other people’s experiences all the time. I have a huge amount of anxiety and depression, and it’s hard to know what’s mine and what’s someone else’s. But when I talk about it to my friends, they tell me to quit being ‘such a girl.’” Male empaths need the same kind of body-based support that female ones require.

RX FOR EMPATHS:

Empaths have an extraordinary capacity for union. They’re great in a crisis; people in need call forth their deepest abilities. They make gifted, intuitive healers. They see others deeply, well beyond the surface. And they have a magnetic quality that draws people to them. Yet flanking these positive aspects are several shadow sides. Here’s what you’ll want to focus on to help you live in a state of physical and emotional equilibrium.

1. Develop Boundaries. As an empath, you give too much space to others’ emotional lives. You solve their problems with ease and help them restore equilibrium, often at the expense of your own energy stores. But even when no one needs you, the habit of “trolling for crisis” means you’re always on alert, and makes it tough to return to the shores of your own awareness.

Empath Rx: Creating boundaries isn’t a matter of mental discipline, of “just say no.” When you’re an empath, limits need to be integrated into your physicality. The core body is your seat of power: What helps is a yoga practice that brings your focus into your deep, intrinsic core where you can develop “prana in the belly.” This four-pronged core body program includes awareness, strength, flexibility, and the capacity to release. Working with the core in this holistic way helps you ground back into your body and replenish your energy stores. Mindfulness tools can also help you monitor where—or on whom—you’re focused and notice when you’ve migrated into someone else’s direct experience.

2. Bring Awareness into Your Body. Imagine that you’ve left to visit a friend in another city and forgotten to lock your house. And that’s not all: You’ve left all the doors and windows wide open, so anyone can get in. This is what it’s like to be an empath. You can abandon your own home, your direct experience, in favor of someone else’s. The more you do this, the more difficult it is to return. What makes matters worse is that not inhabiting your body (and the moment) keeps the benefits of yoga and other mindfulness-based practices just beyond your reach.

Empath Rx: Offset this tendency toward dissociation with slow, mindful vinyasa yoga sequences that link movement with breath. Empaths can spend a whole yoga class or practice on auto-pilot: adding anchors for awareness will help bring you back to your body and to the present. Contemplative practices such as meditation and restorative yoga give you the time, space, and silence you need to get re-embodied again.

3. Balance Your Nervous System.

An empath’s environment is like “emotional satellite radio” with surround sound and hundreds of channels. Your nervous system surfs the dial constantly, flipping from station to station to listen to others’ emotional broadcasts: your boss’s complaints about work, your partner’s anxiety over a potential job loss, your best friend’s sadness about a breakup. These information-processing demands can catapult your nervous system into overdrive, which reinforces anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. On top of that, the incessant electronic requests of e-mail and social media can overload and exhaust you.

Empath RX:

Learn to notice the signs of nervous system overdrive, such as that inner sense of something always “humming” beneath the surface, an elevated heart rate, and increased emotional reactivity. Practice simple breathwork techniques like nasal breath (and if accessible, nasal breath with a longer exhale) to slow your heart and bring your nervous system back to baseline. Regular breaks from social media also help, as do practices that balance your nervous system and quiet your mind, like Restorative Yoga.

4. Learn to Regulate Intimacy.

For empaths, intimacy comes down to matters of space and reciprocity. You can feel like Dr. Doolittle’s Push-Me-Pull-You: Sometimes you crave intense emotional, physical, and spiritual bonding. At other times, you need so much space that having your own personal galaxy might feel too crowded. When you want to merge, you can threaten people who have a higher need for breathing room; when you need wide-open space, you can appear remote and withholding. And when it comes to reciprocity, you’re rarely comfortable on the receiving end. Your giving nature attracts narcissistic people who crave the mirroring and validation you offer. In the meantime, you’re able to create a fantasy in which the relationship lives up to its potential—and you inhabit that fantasy as though it were real. You learn to subsist on a diet of mere “emotional breadcrumbs,” and can suffer from malnourishment.

Empath Rx:

To build your ability to receive care from others, try bodywork or yoga therapy with someone you trust. You can also balance a personal yoga practice with group classes to strengthen your sense of community. If your job requires any degree of public exposure, or you work as a healer, you may need stretches of alone time to reestablish your equilibrium. Here again, mindfulness-based practices can help you notice feelings of being devoured and interrupt the cycle of merger and isolation before you reach the breaking point.

5. Develop emotional immunity.

Empaths pick up on other’s emotions and even their direct inner experience so rapidly that it’s hard to indentify what’s happened. As a result, a large part of your anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and immune issues can belong not to you, but to someone else. And just like your nervous system and physical body, your emotional body and immune system struggle with boundaries. They have difficulty discerning what’s you and what’s not. This leaves you vulnerable to emotional issues like anxiety, depression, and chronic stress, as well as auto-immune illnesses such as allergies, lupus, or fibromyalgia.

Empath Rx:

Practice interpersonal hygiene: using mindfulness, notice how you feel after spending time with others. You’ll soon learn which people are hazardous to your health, and you can limit your interactions with them. Also try lymph-stimulating asana sequences and Restorative Yoga to stimulate your capacity for constructive internal reflection.

THE EMPATH’S FILTER:

One of the more insidious consequences of Empath Syndrome is having a very thin, membranous emotional skin which reacts intensely to real or perceived invasion. This skin is allergic to a variety of foods, social settings, and other people—and on the inside, it mimics the auto-immune pattern of self-hatred. This exposes our nerve endings to all the shame, rage, and deep, existential grief inside us and in everyone around us. An offhand comment from a loved one, a request for help from someone when our resources are at a low ebb, or a harmless comment from that “weird guy” at the gym can get under our skin in microseconds. This sets off an alarm, and we immediately filter that person as either “dangerous” or “safe.” Long ago, that type of filtering was necessary for our survival but as we mature, it becomes less adaptive, even destructive. Because we doubt the strength of this filter (after all, it’s tough for us to set boundaries), we construct a narrative around the experience. Once we’ve developed a juicy story about the person who got under our skin, we repeat it. We pull for confirmation from others, as though having an army behind this filter will help it feel more like a fortress.

Having the armed forces behind us can feel comforting initially, but our actions only strengthen the sensitivity of the danger/safe filter. And since our narrative is rarely limited to one encounter, we practice it over time. Soon, it gains a brittle hardness. This outer shell protects us from injury (good), but also from intimacy with others and our deepest selves (not so good).

Often, the deepest (and hardest!) work happens long after the interaction is over, when our nervous system is back to balance and the temporary comfort our narrative gave us has dissipated. Our task is to go back to the filter, to our initial decision in the moment, and reevaluate. We can (this is so hard!) reconsider and re-examine the encounter from all angles, balancing the harsh light of hindsight with a healthy dose of self-compassion. We can even ask others for input—preferably those who don’t indulge our stories, and who want to see us grow.

Over time, we can acknowledge where our filters make errors or blind us. We can change their sensitivity settings to be more open. We can acknowledge where they make errors or may blind us. Then we’ve got something to grown on. The challenging part: Empaths have a really tough time changing this filter because it feels so necessary for safety. What’s more, adjusting the settings actually stretches our “emotional skin.” This expansion is uncomfortable: It can feel in some ways like a “little death” and it can jolt the nervous system into caffeinated overdrive. This is when the quieter aspects of yoga and mindfulness like Restorative Yoga can help promote constructive internal reflection, and help us assimilate the changes we’ve made to our filter. I’ve been in this place many times and experienced the struggle myself. And while our asana practice helps us be more embodied, this epic battle with our filter is carried out on the very plains of engagement where mindfulness and yoga try so hard to lead us.

IT’S LIKE A TATTOO:

Empaths often ask me, with great sincerity, “How do I get rid of this?” Their poignant request reflects the cost they pay, in time and effort, to achieve a measure of balance. But being an empath is like having a tattoo: the imprint is there for life, no matter what you may do to change it. These practices aren’t a time-limited, do-it-for-three-months-and-all-will-be-well kind of program. Rather, they’re a lifelong journey of self-discovery. But it needn’t be a life sentence. Having a daily empath-balancing practice improves our relationship with ourselves. It juices our creative process. It improves emotional regulation. It deepens our work life, and enhances our physical health.

Empaths need community, a tribe of our own to belong to, and a shared language through which we can first unload the burden of being built as we are. Yet once we’ve ingested this sense of belonging, our task is to resist the temptation to rest there forever, and cultivate instead both personal and shared practices that bolster our body, calm our mind, and help us ground into and explore ourselves. We do this first in shallow waters and then in time, the deep.

It may seem that transformation is about transcendence: that we somehow leave behind our flaws to achieve a measure of spiritual perfection. Yet true spiritual evolution and emotional health entail a reckoning with and even valuing of the unique set of challenges we’ve been given. Sometimes the holes in our evolution—the very things that we lack—plait a deep thread of awareness into the fabric of our self-study. We’ll spend the rest of our lives unraveling that thread, and weaving and reweaving it. And there’s a measure of honor that comes from having to work so hard at the skills that others seem to master so naturally.

And the reward for all this hard work of integration? There will come an extended moment in time when something or someone will activate your nervous system, stimulate your filter and the narrative that comes with it, and tie you in emotional knots. But this time, you’ll recognize it as it happens. You’ll be able to enter a dialogue. You’ll say to yourself something like, “Oh- here it is again—it’s happening! This person has bumped right up against my need to feel special,” or whatever it is they’ve activated. You’ll notice the signs of activation: elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing, intense emotional reactivity, and an immediate gravitational pull toward a difficult story. “They must not care about me at all,” you’ll start to think. Then suddenly, you’ll remember to feel where that activation is concentrated in your body: often, for empaths, it’s the upper core or solar plexus area. You’ll bring your hands to that area and breathe deeply into it for several minutes. And if it’s still highly engaged, you’ll opt to practice a little longer until you hit your “reset button.”

And all at once, you’ll feel the deep worth of daily empath practices. You’ll find a simultaneous sense of yielding and resilience. You’ll feel a beautiful solidity, as though you’ve colored in your outlines. You’ll discover a newfound sense of your own intrinsic value in the world. And this will be matched by the joy that comes bubbling up from the wellspring of your body.

Being an empath asks us to become fluent in the field of paradox, to metabolize opposing concepts and challenges. How can we engage in rich relationship with others and the world around us, for instance, while finding the silence and space to discover the self and world inside us? How do we find balance between matter and spirit, inner awareness and outer focus, or self and other? And how might we engage in the dynamic interchange between the concept of evolution—which hints at a future self—and the self we are right here, right now?

It may be later in life by the time we truly blossom, but the time, patience, and inner work are well worth the effort. When we learn to regulate our nervous system, create healthy boundaries in our body, and adjust the filter through which we evaluate direct experience, we become truly resilient. And instead of making ourselves small to fit the world around us, to find a tribe where we belong, we learn to blossom on our own. This blossoming draws others to us. And an empath in full flower is an extraordinary thing to witness: vulnerable yet resilient, intuitive yet grounded, and deeply creative, expressive, and magnetic—but with a fully functioning sense of where and how these qualities balance.

Dear Empaths, thank you for your deeply impassioned response to this article! Out of respect for the porousness of your fellow empaths, please balance your sharing of your story with discernment about how the quantity and nature of what you’re sharing. We reserve the right to edit posts, or to not post responses that might cause others to be overwhelmed when reading. However, we do read each and every post. We thank you for taking the time to comment. Please know that you have a Tribe of people to whom you belong. Not only that, there are ways (and this article mentions several) to balance your empath qualities and live a life of balance, boundaries, and meaning.

For specific tools, please reread the “Rx” sections above for ideas. You can also explore our book Yoga for Emotional Balance. And please stay tuned to the Online Courses link on this site; we’ll have a “Yoga for Empaths” course coming out later this year that’s a labor of love to all of you, our Empath Tribe. Peace and blessings,

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