Clearings To Help With Creative Inspiration And Flow

Anyone who has persevered in the arts (or healing, sports, or any such area of devoted interest) acknowledges the need for dedicated learning and intense practice.  We know that we need to master the skills and build the muscle memory and strength at the mind-body level.

Yet, to take things to the next level, repetition alone is not enough.  
Something more is required.  We frequently hear advice along the lines of ‘get into the flow‘, or ‘find the zone‘, or ‘get yourself out of the way‘. For, what is required is for us to become one with the experience; inviting in a grace and inspiration to bring forth the highest possible in the moment.

Regardless of whether our endeavour is a creative pursuit or a mundane, mechanical task – when we pay attention – we notice that the space which we operate from is as critical to the outcome as our actual ability, practised skill and execution.

As Hazrat Inayat Khan hinted:

It is not solid wood that can become a flute, but the empty reed.

Wu Hsin also pointed succinctly with:

Perfect archery has no archer.

Scot Barry Kaufman, in his HBR article, “Why Inspiration Matters” states:
To become personally inspired, the best you can do is set up the optimal circumstances for inspiration. As a society, the best we can do is assist in setting up these important circumstances for everyone.  An easy first step is simply recognizing the sheer potency of inspiration, and its potential impact on everything we do.

However, even if one be convinced of the ‘sheer potency of inspiration‘, we still face a huge challenge:  How does one “set up the optimal circumstances for inspiration“?

Here is where we can turn to a beautiful poem that describes a methodical process to this end. ‘Poem of the Woodcarver’, by Chuang Tzu (from ‘The Way of Chuang Tzu’, by Thomas Merton) is a masterpiece treasured by many artists and teachers. It has been a personal favourite for a long time and I quote it below:

‘The Woodcarver’
by Chuang Tzu

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing, replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

So now, the next question that usually arises after reading the above is:
How do we incorporate this wisdom into our life? 

Simple rituals can help set a mindful tone and clarify our focus.
For example, habits, such as decluttering, lighting a candle, playing soft background music, meditation or prayer before we begin our work, can all help.

Importantly, like ‘The Woodcarver’, starting with a clear intent to clear our inner space and inviting the highest to come through can significantly change the quality of whatever it is that we are expressing, doing, or making.

Drawing on my extensive experience with healing processes, I felt using NOW Healing with statements inspired by Chuang Tzu’s sage advice could lead to a powerful, useful practice. Used regularly, this meditative piece could aid in facilitating inspired work.

(It lends structure to my own approach to healing and the various creative mediums  I play with. Though, I feel its relevance is not limited to any particular field but extends to all form of authentic expression and offerings.  After all, as Rumi said, Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”)

Sharing the process I came up with below, for those who think along similar lines:

Guiding Instructions:
a) Place your attention at the base of your spine, and then sweep your awareness quickly up the middle of your body(your ‘Center‘), and out from the top of your head, expanding upwards and outwards, in not more than 2 seconds.  Don’t think or concentrate too much, just do it quickly and lightly.
b) As you do the above, “Enter the command”, i.e. mentally say the first statement from the list below. Inhale and release a deep breath as you do this.
c) Do this for each of the 21 statements, going through them slowly and mindfully. You may want to record the statements below in your own voice for regular use.
(To learn about Elma Mayer’s ‘NOW Healing’ and the ‘Center’ in greater detail, click here. Alternatively, use this as a tapping script with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).)

 

  1. Align to Wholeness Now.
  2. Disentangle from all outer temptations and distractions Now.
  3. Disentangle from the need to look or be busy Now.
  4. Align to ease with non-activity Now.
  5. Align to patience Now.
  6. Align to deep listening of inner guidance Now.
  7. Disentangle from all conscious and unconscious vested interests Now.
  8. Disentangle from all conscious and unconscious fear and anticipation of judgement, criticism and rejection Now.
  9. Disentangle from all conscious and unconscious craving and aversion for praise, riches, popularity, and fame Now.
  10. Disentangle from all limitations of body-mind identification Now.
  11. Disentangle from all thoughts, fears, expectations, and projections of audience response Now.
  12. Align to inspiration Now.
  13. Align to emergence Now.
  14. Align to flow Now.
  15. Align to seeing with Wholeness Now.
  16. Align to clarity Now.
  17. Align to inspired, skilful action Now.
  18. Align to best possible effort Now.
  19. Disentangle from all conclusion, judgment, attachment, or investment in the outcome Now.
  20. Align to easeful surrender, peace and fulfilment Now.
  21. Reintegrate Now.
Sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few moments.

I trust that you will experience a wonderful spaciousness, lightness and ease by this point. May this provide you with just the right space and state to proceed as per your own inner guidance now.

If you experiment with this process, I would love to have you share what followed in the comments below.  And if you enjoyed the article, please do pass it on!

Land art by Andy Goldsworthy.jpeg


My
sculpture can last for days or a few seconds –
what is important to me is the experience of making.
I leave all my work outside and often return to watch it decay.
(Land Art and Quote ~ Andy Goldsworthy)

Creating A New Personal Paradigm.

I am in the process of reading ‘Ishmael’, by Daniel Quinn. So far, the book is an engaging, thought-provoking read. Like Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’, it invites one to break down the fundamental pieces of the world vision we have bought into, and question the veracity of these parts.  These examined parts can then be reassembled to outline a new, wholly different paradigm.  What struck me, as I read this book, was the way we could use this to find freedom from a fixed idea of our self.

Remember, the brain highlights our awareness of evidence that proves our beliefs true.
Further, the brain cannot distinguish between the real and the imagined.  We can be victims of these biases, or we can choose to use this to our advantage.

Like the protagonist in my short story, The River Sings. Listen., we tend to identify with the character/role we are playing out in this drama of life.  Self-inquiry reveals that who we are is not limited to the self-definition we usually buy into.

With ‘Unpeeling Our Labels‘, I offered an exercise to free yourself from your favourite fixed ideas about yourself. There, we focused on examining and disentangling from the character/role we are defining ourselves by.

Here, what I now propose is that we examine and rewrite the entire myth that we have built around this character.  (Our core beliefs about our individual identity frames our world-view and filters the consequent experience. Hence, I refer to this personalised narration as a movie or myth.)

Consider this Wikipedia extract from ‘Ishmael’ (that prompted this post):
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people.
Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world.  But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world.
Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will act as the lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.”

This extract triggered the thought that often, in the attempt to shake off one role-play or dominant quality, we swing to its opposite polarity.  What we end up doing is substituting one fixed idea of a self, with another; we peel off one label, only to stick on another.
Consequently, we remain deeply entangled with the protagonist of our personal ‘movie’, albeit now a radically different one.  The environment we are drawn into remains one which perpetuates this identity: Remember, for every victim, there has to be a perpetrator, for every winner a loser, and so forth.  So every personal ‘movie’- requires a whole paradigm – of relevant characters, recurring patterns, circumstances, locations, and more! In all this, any awakening from the dream is again ignored, if not completely forgotten.

Now, what if we deliberately changed the very myth that we are enacting?
What would change if we moved our focus from the ‘person experiencing life’, to the experience of life itself?

Instead of simply rewriting the character we have identified with, what if for a moment, you thought of this life more in terms of visiting a multiplex?  A free, unlimited being walking into an interactive theatre of choice?  Deciding that having seen enough of the drama/tragedy/horror/etc. genre, One would like the experience to be of say, lightheartedness or adventure instead?

What experiences would such a setting invoke?
As a corollary, what kind of waveform of consciousness would one be and express as?

If the implication of inverting things like this interests you, here is a way to experiment:

  1. Mindfully pause and step back – from the identification and entanglement with the current character/role, it’s existing beliefs and it’s consequent perceptions of life.
  2. Anchor in the remembrance of your true, infinite nature. (As Rumi poetically surmises: “You are as you are, an indescribable message on the air.) From this viewpoint, it is clear that like the actors in the movie, who we truly are – remains untouched through all these transient, worldly experiences. Further, we are capable of all kinds of ways of being – we are not limited to the qualities we have imagined to describe us.
    Remembering this, our engagement with the movie is transformed:. The relationship changes to one of playfulness, exploration and ease. Like visitors to an Amusement Park,  we are free to explore a different ride.  But this time, without becoming lost in identification with the protagonist.
    If separation was imagined in order to know our self, express our creativity and have different experiences – then let us remember that – even as we participate in this personal drama.
  3. From this space of lightness, give yourself a different story to enact. Previously, there were fixed ideas about the governing parameters, motivations and rules of engagement of the personal world we occupied.
    Shaped by this, certain traits strengthened within us and one became identified with an archetypal role or temporary states (such as believing our self to being an ‘angry’/’unsupported’/’unloved’/ ‘not good enough’/etc… person. As we did not think in terms of say, ‘I am experiencing anger’,  a frequent, but transient state became who we saw ourselves as.)

    Now, instead of fighting, defending, fixing, or improving this habitual self-definition, envision a new possibility by answering:
    What kind of a paradigm would you like to be living in?
    Sample questions that can help you articulate the details:

    • What is the dominant theme of this new paradigm/personal movie?
      Would there be more drama? more comedy? more adventure? more romance? more music?
    • What kind of experiences would the protagonist(your role) have?
      (Eg. An Indiana Jones protagonist would routinely experience adventure, whereas the star of a musical would likely grow in musical appreciation and expertise!)
    • What qualities would this protagonist display?
      (Curiosity, bravery, willingness to learn, discipline, persistence and so forth.)
    • What kind of a world, community and culture would he/she live in?
    • How would this protagonist contribute to this collective story?
    • What values would this protagonist embody?
    • What kind of people, places and situations is such a character likely to come across?
    • What would close relationships be like? How would they behave with each other?

These questions are not manifestation exercises but pointers to discovering the way this character would look, perceive, listen, respond and behave in his/her world.  It will help you to generate the body language, tone, perceptions and attitude that one would enact in such a story.
Choose a clear summary title, and perhaps a theme song/wallpaper to represent this story. Like a method actor,  routinely spend a quiet few moments immersing yourself into this character and its world. Periodically, align yourself to this story using EFT/Now Healing and the title/song/image you have chosen for yourself.
Begin to track and appreciate what changes when you view the world operating from this frame of reference.

It takes a little practice, and of course, old habits have their pull.  But our stepping out with a new, conscious approach invariably invokes a different response from everyone and everything around us. Also, let us not forget the beneficial rewiring of our brain over time, thanks to neuroplasticity. So slowly, but surely, one does start noticing shifts within and without.

One way in which we can use such an exercise is to relax our ‘anxious’ viewpoint. To change the story from being victims battling a threatening world to easeful, able beings adeptly exploring a varied world.
ACIM says that defence is the first form of attack.  And far too many of us currently see everything as threatening.  While it is situationally true for some, for a large number it is an exaggerated, stuck flight-fight response. This exercise can help change our point of view to a more neutral, present and balanced one.

What I found fun and useful with this experiment was:
a) the lightheartedness and flexibility of it – a useful reminder not to take our temporary circumstances so very seriously, and b) how it serves as a persistent reminder to stay awake in the dream;  to remember that we are not limited to this personality we repeatedly get caught up with.

If you choose to give it a try, let me know how it played out for you 🙂
And if you liked the idea, you are most welcome to pass it on.

A new year is around the corner. Perhaps, we can all rewrite our individual and collective stories in a way that we more deeply enjoy and appreciate this gift of life.
Good cheer and happy adventures to all!

movie-choices

 Image Source: Kodi Forum

How To Release Negative Anticipation And Relax.

A difficult life can gradually cultivate an anxious expectation or negative anticipation in the mind and body. While resistance is the primary cause of our suffering, dread only adds to and perpetuates our stress. 

In 16 Clearing Statements To Address The Self-Sabotage of Inevitabilitywe looked at the belief systems underlying an anticipated difficulty, as also their consequences. There was a tacit acknowledgement there that our thinking was coming in our own way and the tools suggested there were a means to solve a specific, clearly identified  and problematic belief.

Here I would like to focus on a more generalised habit that we may have acquired: A readiness for suffering that is far more deeply ingrained, often unconscious and is likely fuelled by countless experiences and multiple reasons.

How to recognise whether you are affected by it:

  • Observe the body:
    Sit silently, undisturbed for a few moments.  Breathe easily.  Pay attention to your breathing and your body.  You may notice a stiffness in the spine, shoulders or at the back of the neck, a tightness in the muscles, or shallow, fast breathing.  Those who have dealt with a lot of challenging situations and traumas(big or small) may feel such symptoms more strongly. Once it is noticed, you realise that it feels as though the mind -body is bracing itself against an unfathomable, approaching storm.
    (You can test this further by allowing your thoughts to float towards a future time or upcoming event. Your mood may dampen, and overall a sense of effort or heaviness may show up for no particular reason. The stiffness, tightness or pain may aggravate. Any of this could be mild, or acute.)
  • Observe your thoughts and emotions:
    There is a fear of being disappointed, worry and a tendency to imagine all that can go wrong rather than what can go right. Despite positive thinking or manifestation exercises, you may be a persistent, nagging doubt that cautions you not to get too hopeful or invested. It may also show up as an underlying current of fatigue, helplessness or sadness. Life seems more uphill than not.

It is as though a ‘fight or flight’ response is no longer situational, but has become a default state. Our mind-body has got locked into a preparedness for battle.

How to release such dread:
Becoming aware of this anxiety and tension in the mind and body is the first step.  This, in itself, starts shifting our energies and thoughts. Along with a mindful watch on our recurring thoughts, addressing this in the body is also important.
We can further the process by pairing our conscious intent to release this negative anticipation with one or more of these simple options:

  • Heart Focus: Sit straight and take your attention to your heart and breath. Imagine as though you are breathing in and out of the heart.  As you breathe mindfully,  do any one or all of the following:
    • Inhale deeply and intend, “I release all resistance to whatever is unfolding.” as you exhale completely. Repeat until you feel relaxed.
    • Place both hands over your heart and say, “It’s okay to feel this way.” (3-5 times).  After that repeat, “It’s okay to let it go now.” (3-5 times)
    • Place both hands over your heart and repeat softly and slowly, “I am safe. I am okay. It is safe to relax now.”(3-7 times)
    • Focus your thoughts on anyone or anything that invokes love or appreciation in you.  Continue these till you feel yourself relax completely.
  • Shift Your Position: Notice which part of the body feels tight/tense and move it slightly to a position that is more comfortable.  It’s surprising how much energy goes into holding that tightness and the ease that can show up with such conscious movements. If you are the type that tends to get lost in thought or the activity on hand, make such 5-second breaks a regular habit.
  • Stretch The Body: Basic stretching exercises combined with the intention of emotional release affect not only the body but also the mind, emotions and energies.  Meridian stretches and Surya Namaskars are particularly effective.
  • Psoas Muscle Clearing:  Lie down on your back with knees bent and feet about a foot and half apart. Let the knees fall together lightly and comfortably.  Place your palms flat on the two sides of your abdomen, just off the centre of your body.  Your hands will be roughly parallel to the line joining the thighs and abdomen, as though cupping the abdomen area. Now hold the intention of releasing the pent up emotion you have identified.  You may begin to notice energy moving below your palms.  If heaviness shows up anywhere else, stay in the same position, but move your attention to the disturbed part of the body.  Now imagine a grounding cord running down from the base of your spine and another from the soles of your feet to deep down in the centre of the earth.  Imagine that everything that needs to leave you is passing out through these cords.Repeat as often as you feel the need.
    (I have combined several approaches into the above exercise and most people I have shared it with find it to be particularly powerful. I highly recommend it as a daily practice.)
  • Energy Exercise: Cross your arms into the Cooks hook-up, and follow these commands: “Feel it strongly as you can, as clearly as you can, until you just can’t feel it anymore.” Repeat 2-3 times, until you feel calm.
  • Visualisation:  Imagine golden white light flowing down through the top of your head and filling the entire body. Intend that it clear out all distressing cellular memories and replace them with a soothing calm.  Take your time as you scan through the body, ‘lighting up’ any areas of heaviness or darkness.  See this light flowing down, out from the soles of your feet, deep to the centre of the earth.

Any and all of the above can move you from an apprehensive tension to feeling easeful and refreshed instead – within minutes.

For additional help, here are some relevant posts:

PS: In the event that you are facing a full-blown panic/anxiety attack, try one of these:

  • Hold your breath: Hyperventilation implies you are taking in too much oxygen without releasing adequately. Hold your breath for a period of ten to fifteen seconds, relax and repeat this a few times. You could also cover your nose and mouth with a paper bag and breathe in and out of it for a few minutes. This restores the oxygen-carbon dioxide balance in the lungs.
  • Deep Diaphragmatic breathing: Slow, deep breathing right down to the bottom of the lungs, such that you feel your abdomen rise up noticeably. Breathe through the nose, with a longer out-breath than in-breath. (Count in your mind to 7 as you breathe in and to 11 as you breathe out). 
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques/EFT is excellent for calming the system down.  Learn more at my website or get my book: Emotional Freedom Techniques.
  • Mathematical Exercises: I have seen this work remarkably well.  It shifts attention away from the stressor and activates a different part of the brain. Try solving for the square root of a large number or multiplying large figures.

I trust that one or more of the above will help alleviate your stress and bring in more peace and clarity.

If you find any of the above useful, please do share it forward.  
We live in taxing times and most of us could benefit from a little relaxation.

Updated on December 8th, 2016:

Came across a few interesting 60-second suggestions for deep relaxation in a talk – ‘NeuroWisdom 101‘, by Mark Walden. Adding some of those below:

  • Begin yawning deliberately and slowly stretching your body.  Whatever speed you are stretching at, keep halving that until you are moving as slowly as possible.  There is a growing awareness of each muscle movement, while the ‘fake’ yawning begins to induce genuine yawns.  These give the brain opportunity to pause its thoughts and rest.  Within 60 seconds, one can feel the growing relaxation of mind and body.
  • Run your fingertips slowly down the inside of your other palm, taking 20 seconds to go from the fingertips to the wrist.  MRI scans indicated that this stimulates parts of the brain that deal with self-awareness and self-confidence. You can use this to calm yourself before meetings you are worrying about.
  • When feeling down, worried or moody, stroking the forearm slowly helps shut down negative emotional centres in the brain.
  • Concentrate as strongly as you can on the sound of a bell for 30 seconds. Listen as deeply as you can to whatever you hear.  Such intense concentrating shuts down a large part of the brain and hence, this kind of focus is an excellent strategy to manage ADD, procrastination and the wandering mind.

perfect_place_to_relax-wallpaper-800x600

Healing The Feminine and Restoring Yin Yang Balance With Self Awareness.

All around us, we are seeing the unveiling of secrets and the exposure of what has been suppressed or denied for years. How women have been treated was rather obvious, but is perhaps being questioned far more than it has been for decades.

Whether it be the fallout of the American political drama, the rape victims all over the world, the housewife subjugated to domestic violence/more subtle but persistent domination/humiliation, the career woman facing the glass ceiling/sexual harassment, or the sadly common threat/disrespect that every female deals with on a daily basis – it is all boiling out into the open.

While the restoration of balance between the Yang(masculine) and Yin(feminine) energies is clearly needed, how we go about trying to arrive at that also needs some thought.  In the pendulum swinging away from one extreme, we often swing far too much in the opposite direction.

Hurt is best healed when it is acknowledged in our self, and witnessed in the other.  Too often, it lies buried under rage, resignation, indifference or blame. Consequently, attention and aggression is directed outwards while the pain itself may remain unaddressed.

Before we try to direct a change in the outer world, it serves us to first arrive at peace within ourselves.  For then, we are able to engage mindfully and appropriately with the manifest.

Women need the compassionate space to reveal and heal their ancient, individual and collective wounds. They have to learn to love, forgive and accept themselves for all they have endured, and knowingly or unknowingly invited or inflicted – on each other as well as on men.
Similarly, men too, have to be allowed a similar space to introspect, forgive themselves and allow their own gentler aspects of vulnerability, empathy, and compassion to emerge.

Those who agree that owning and addressing our inner turbulence is necessary may be struggling with the how of it.  In support of them, I offer below a selection of articles that can serve in the process. Most of these are directly addressed to women, but for those who are interested, searching the blog will provide you with very many other healing scripts/poems and practices.

Additionally, meditating upon the energetically charged Yin Balancing Art and/or Mandala image below has been found impactful by many women.
The first (a digital painting) was channeled during a powerful lunar eclipse.  It is intended to help with the restoration of balance between male and female energies, within us as also in the world at large.  Use this image to own, strengthen, balance and express the feminine energies.
The second was an Ojo I spun chanting Ho’oponopono after a particularly brutal attack on a woman had rocked our nation. It’s soothing energies bring back a gentle strength.

Lastly, the poem below is intended to help one remember that true freedom – wherein we need not judge/suppress feminine qualities, but own them and be ourselves fearlessly. (Try tapping it in with EFT and see how you feel.)

Relevant Articles(in no particular order):

Once there has been some honest inner clearing, you may feel ready to go beyond the confines of labels, archetypes, and genders.  (I feel that is necessary before we can transcend our identification with a personality(male or female)). At which point, you could use this clearing: What Meaning Having You Given This One Thing?

 

yin-energies_numbered

The genie is out of the bottle.
Do not attempt to fit Her back in.
No more bargaining over favors:

Her freedom no longer dependent on your whims
Or her ability to meet your needs,
Blend, constrict and fit in.

You may be surprised to find
That her generosity now flows unabated
Instead of drying up.

Now that She does not have to pay
Her being as a price
She only becomes what She always was.

Like the elephant tied down by a simple peg
Amnesia and conditioning
Had had Her caged.

But just as once water remembers itself
It remains not confined, nor stagnant, nor afraid:
All limiting forms eventually fade.

Continually transforming,
Finding ways
To revisit Home, the higher skies

Yet She returns from there, again and again,
As does nurturing rain when the earth turns dry…
With the love that had always been hidden within – more clarified.

divine-feminine-mandala

If you find any of this useful, please share the post widely with others. Let us support each other in whatever ways we can.

Poems: Restoration Of Peace

Sometimes,
Even the land and waters forget,
As do the trees.

Soak them in enough blood
Violate mercilessly,
Leaving no time to mend, to heal…

Do it long enough
And you can confuse them.
(Though even then,
Far less than us
Deranged they be.)

Nevertheless,
Not themselves for sure.
Ragged, disconnected, incomplete.

Buying into our sense of separation
Identifying with horrors they have seen
Branded and known forever
As numbing battlefields…

Like us,
These too require a gentle touch.
The kiss of remembrance
The restoration of sanity:

I am sorry, please forgive me.
May we all return
To the love and peace we be.

koh_kher_clearing

(Written at Koh Ker, Cambodia. If you are not familiar with Cambodia’s history, you may want to look it up. )

Footnote – An Extract From Wikipedia

“Hoʻoponopono (ho-oponopono) is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.”

[…]

“…includes using the mantra, “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.[40] It is based on Len’s idea of 100% responsibility,[41] taking responsibility for everyone’s actions, not only for one’s own. If one would take complete responsibility for one’s life, then everything one sees, hears, tastes, touches, or in any way experiences would be one’s responsibility because it is in one’s life.[42] The problem would not be with our external reality, it would be with ourselves. Total Responsibility, according to Hew Len, advocates that everything exists as a projection from inside the human being.”

 

Notes For The Highly Sensitive Empath

The test of a first-rate intelligence,” said writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, “is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

Those on the path of self-inquiry often grapple with reconciling concepts of nonduality(‘not-two’/advaita) with the experience of individuality. Study of various religious and philosophical texts, personal inquiry and the rare experience point to the former. But mostly, for the majority, there can be no denying our sense of individuality: Identified with our mind-body, we see ourselves as unique and different – separate from Source/God (if we believe in one), as well as from others.

Balanced, harmonious living is experienced when we remain aware of both: that while in essence there is the same, One Source – in manifestation, there are distinct forms.

For highly sensitive empaths, achieving this balance poses peculiar challenges. 
However, before expanding on those, I would like to clarify the intended audience for this post:

I hold labels lightly, and not as rigid definitions.  To clarify, this post is not for those who tend to empathize with others in the more common ways of say, feeling sad on hearing a friend’s troubles, or resonating with the outrage of a protesting crowd. Reflecting others’ feelings is natural to most.

This article is only for those who almost seem to be ‘wired’ differently.
Research has already shown that brains of HSPs are markedly different from others. There is a different sensitivity associated with activation of brain regions involved in awareness, integration of sensory information, empathy, and action planning.
The mind-body type I refer to has an unusually high sensitivity to surroundings and picks up far more information and emotion than most intuitives or Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP).  They experience an additional influx that is not limited to those physically present before them. Often, they sense, ‘see’, or ‘hear’ what is happening with other people, animals, trees, or even geographical spaces(see earth sensitives) across distances.  Unlike other empathetic responses, these cannot be explained by the theory of mirror neurons, nor by a placebo-like consequence of belief systems.

(A request: If this reminds you of someone you know, please share this article with them.)

In all probability, the intended audience of this piece would have undergone conflicting spells of loving this gift and hating its consequences; Shifted between feeling blessed, special and powerful, to feeling marked, flawed and helpless. While it is advantageous in accessing deep spiritual experiences, it also leads to some complex, tiring and confused personal equations.

Instead of seeing this extraordinary degree of empathy either as a sought-after occult power, or a desperately fought with curse, the sensible place one can arrive at is to treat it matter-of-factly:  

We are simply built differently.
Like various physical, emotional and intelligence attributes, this is just another configuration in manifestation. It makes us neither superior nor inferior.

What it does seem to do, however, is by default, have us lean towards ‘oneness’ without respecting ‘individuation’ appropriately enough.

To say this creates boundary issues would be an understatement.
Most memes (being targetted at those who’s default perception tends to come from the strongly individual perspective) encourage a movement towards dissolving barriers, expansion, and inclusivism. Cognizant of the difference in our make-up, we need to remember that such sage advice addressed to the majority may possibly be detrimental if not counter-productive for us. 

We too, need to find our middle path. But ours will be found by honoring the uniqueness and boundaries that come with individuality. Hence, what we need to learn is appropriate distancing, containing/contracting our awareness to our own personal space and focusing on our ‘self’.

Tools For Empaths offered specific tips on dealing with information and energy overload. Here, I share notes around the challenges that result from having the unique make-up of a highly sensitive empath(details below):

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  1. Stop Blaming Yourself:

    The oversensitivity, awareness, and information that you have available to you can often make things uncomfortable, inconvenient and sometimes downright annoying for yourself as well as others.  It can make you feel like an alien, a misfit and sometimes the target of unwanted attention, bullying or blame. It is not your fault. This is just the way you were built.

  2. Stop Blaming Others:

    While you may feel you are at the ‘receiving end’ of things, remember that the one you may be holding responsible is unaware of their impact on you. They are not deliberately sending stuff your way.  It’s not their fault either.

    If you feel they should be more aware, or doing more clearing work – so that you also feel better – understand that their tolerance for pain and pace of inner work will be different from yours.

  3. Let Go Of Fear and Defiance:

    When you walk around feeling guilty for the very way that you are – one tends to become either wary and submissive, or a polarized defiant. Use tools like EFT to help clear such emotions. Fighting innate qualities of this mind-body form are not going to help. Extend the same allowance and acceptance to yourself that you would extend to anyone else having a different ability/challenge from yours and find a neutral footing.

  4. Be Discerning In What You Reveal:

    Because you see something so clearly, you may forget that others may be totally oblivious to it. So calling out the underlying dynamics, energies or patterns that seem real, tangible and obvious to you can often lead to trouble and argument. The other may not even want to know more than what is apparent to them at the moment. Your inputs may be invited and appreciated at times, and intrusive and disturbing at others. Be alert to that variability.

  5. Remember, You Aren’t Always Right :

    An extraordinary track record of finding yourself to be proven right can make us neglect the occasions we got it wrong.  Like everyone else, our beliefs and state of being can cloud our seeing and judgment.

  6. You Cannot See It All:

    We can all look at the same diamond and see different facets.
    Others have a different sensing, experience and knowledge informing them and we need to respect that.  Besides, there are plenty of mysteries out there which not even the most knowledgeable or intuitive can explain.
    We need to remember that we can’t know what we don’t know.

  7. Don’t Dominate:

    You tend to feel the undercurrents more deeply than others.  This creates its own intensity and urgency, especially when you see scope for preventing something adverse.  All this can lead to unintended aggression and argument.
    Be careful that you are not imposing upon others.

  8. Be Discrete:

    Sharing our sensing/intuition/insights about a person/situation with a third party can be as careless as unwarranted gossip.

    Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.” ~ Bernard Meltzer.

  9. Share Merits Of Your Inner Work And Healing Knowledge:

    Because of the acuteness with which they feel, empaths gravitate towards inner work.  Emotional clearing and clarity in thinking are their necessity more than an option.
    So apply that learning to any  energetic stuff coming your way as well. This is the time to acknowledge the Oneness and to consider whatever ‘it’ is to be an aspect of your own self and transform it as one would for self.  
    This way, you won’t blame them(it’s not their deliberate choice that you are picking up their unresolved stuff!).  Neither will you expect their co-operation, nor thanks, while yet contributing in the way you know to have worked  best for yourself.

  10. Respect Boundaries:

    Byron Katie’s wisdom is critically important to us: “I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s. Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our business.”

    Despite our porous boundaries, we need to stay in our own business – as much as one possibly can.

    To that end, one also has to be mindful of our own limits. We have to learn to be able to say no, be unavailable, and be willing to disappoint others – recognizing that we need our own boundaries as well. (Empaths and narcissists often find each other because of the empath’s poor ability to maintain boundaries and the inadvertent importance given to the narcissist’s business.)

  11. Respect Your Body:

    Because inputs seem to be received from beyond the five senses, the body itself may not be given its due importance.  Also, an over-emphasis on concepts of non-duality  rather than its actual experience can lead to disregarding the health of the body.
    Give the body its due care and attention.

  12. Include Yourself In The Equation:

    Self-neglect is more likely in empaths than self-centeredness.
    The healthy relationships are those which take all concerned into consideration. Remember to start with yourself.  Otherwise, you will end up feeling exhausted and resentful.

  13. Do Not Expect Others To Treat You The Way You Treat Them:

    Half the time, we don’t even realize we have any such expectations. They are usually discovered in hindsight through feelings of disappointment.  Till then, we just assume that everyone functions in the same way.

    But the inputs that they receive, their perceptions and priorities are significantly different from yours. When they don’t respond with the same involvement as you, it is not personal. They are made differently.  

  14. Spend Time Alone:

    They say we are an average of the five people we spend the most time with.  To add to this, when you are easily influenced by other energies it is easy to become disoriented, uncertain and confused as one can forget one’s own restful state.
    Know your personal space well.

  15. Engage Mindfully:

    Proximity and intimacy, whether emotional or physical, can create entanglements that are exponentially difficult to extract yourself from.
    This does not mean that you become a recluse: Simply interact with awareness and discernment.

  16. Do Not Cling To A ‘self’ Definition:

    In trying to discern our comfort zone and place others outside our field, we can end up habitually proving a fixed idea of our self.  No-one is one thing all the time.
    In the attempt to find a sensible way to navigate the world of duality, do not get so entangled with individual forms that you forget who you are in essence.

The above learnings came the slow, hard way, through years of struggle, introspection, and observation. Now, aware of all this, I feel that this way of being leads to a well-lived, intensely-felt life that can help keep one on the conscious path.

If any of this helps your journey, I would be glad.
Do let me know if it does!

 

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Related Articles:

Tools For Empaths

Are You An Earth Sensitive And Why You Need To Know

Material Wealth, Abundance, And Spirituality

 

What Meaning Have You Given To This One Thing?

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I will probably continue to share more clearings, but at the moment I feel that this one concise clearing addresses the crux of any emotional difficulty we are facing.

All our troubles start and end with our identification with a limited self. Anything and everything that happens, we habitually and compulsively weave into a narrative.  We keep trying to give the happening a meaning and understand our ‘self’ in it’s context.  We then cling to our interpretation, and keep trying to prove or disprove this conclusion(more correctly, hypothesis) to ourselves and others – which leads to its growing importance in our minds.

Pretty soon, whether it be a business opportunity or failure, new job or leaving a familiar city, marriage or divorce or being single, financial abundance or scarcity, weight gain or loss, anxiety or physical disease, birth or death of a loved one – it all boils down to what we decide it means to us and about us.

Further, instead of accepting the happenings of life, the ebbs and flows, the impermanence and changeability and the laws of nature themselves, we take it all most personally – thereby creating suffering and discontent for our ‘self’.

What can help is a return to a childlike innocence, lightness and openness:  Where we engage playfully and then move on without giving any falls, or scrapes lasting importance. The trophies and peak experiences are also held lightly, and take up our attention for only about as long as do our tears.
Thus, things become more about living deeply in the moment rather than about our compelling story and its complex lead character(our ‘self’).

If you would like to lead a more easeful, allowing life that feels one with the flow – try this for any situation that tends to drain your energy or captivate your attention. This clearing is equally relevant to those things that we obsessively seek for pleasure as those that we resist from fear of pain.

For best results, take one particular subject at a time. Now, placing your attention on this issue, use the clearing:

“All the meaning and undue significance that I have given this,
All the ways that I hold on to this,
All that I have decided that this says about me,
All the ways in which I have let this define, limit and contract me,
All the ways in which this has made me forget who I truly am,
I release, dissolve and let go now.

(Inhale a slow deep breath and exhale as you read the above, tap in with EFT, or use with any clearing process of your choice. You will probably immediately feel a little lighter.  If required, repeat a few times until you feel complete.)

Please don’t let the fact that this clearing is simple, focused, and free  – and not packaged as a long-drawn, complex process, nor offered as an expensive audio, workshop or webinar – make you underestimate its power and value. Do give it your fair consideration 🙂

Would be happy to hear how you feel after trying this out.
And if you feel it useful, please do share it with others.