Maintaining Your Energy Body

energy body maintenance

What is the Energy Body?

Everything is made of energy. The “energy body” is the invisible bubble around your physical body that forms the barrier between your energy and everything that is not your energy. It’s the container for your thoughts and feelings. It also contains your available power.

Why Should You Do Energy Body Maintenance?

Your energy body needs care just like your physical body. If you are not doing energy body maintenance, your energy body is likely to be porous. Think of it as a bucket with holes. It leaks! So you will have to generate a lot of power to do simple things because your power is being lost to the outside environment. When your emotions are negative or dis-eased, and others pick up on it, they can perceive you as toxic.

Since you need so much energy, you also suck up other people’s energy leaving them drained. When your energy body is porous, it can be hard telling the difference between your feelings and someone else’s. So, you can absorb negativity, doubt, fear, anxiety and feel that it’s yours. Now you have to figure out how to cope with something didn’t even originate with you. This is exhausting! Even when the energy you absorb is positive, if it’s more than your mind can process or more than your body can contain, you can still feel depleted because it’s overstimulating.

Another way that this can show up is that perhaps you are hyper aware of how others are feeling. You spend a lot of time thinking ahead and anticipating their questions, thoughts, and emotions. Consequently, you are rushing around (either literally or in your head) taking care of things. This takes you out of your body and out of the present moment. This can also deplete your energy body because you have to actually be in your body and grounded to keep the energy flow balanced.

When you live in your head, you can’t tell what is going on with your body so you don’t respond to its cues. When you need more energy, you simply drink caffeine, engage in drama, or steal someone else’s to keep you going. This depletes your adrenals and energy field even further making you unbalanced and vulnerable to dis-ease and fatigue.

How to Do Energy Body Maintenance

Get Grounded & Move the Energy

Energy needs to move. When it doesn’t move, you become sluggish and depressed. If it moves too fast, it’s like a flood. It’s moving too fast to be harnessed, used, and conserved and becomes destructive. To keep the energy moving at a moderate pace, you have to be grounded and embodied. So, the first step is to get in your body. When you’re spun up, you can practice the Five Things exercise to get you back in your body. This is to notice five things in your environment from each of the five senses. For example, you could engage your sight by letting your eyes rest on five different things while really allowing yourself to see them for a few moments. Then go to sound, taste, touch, and smell.

When you’re not triggered, you can practice being grounded through meditations that bring you into your body. One example is to close your eyes. As you inhale, imagine your breath coming in through the crown and into the heart. As you exhale, follow the breath from the heart down through your feet and into the earth. Another grounding breathing exercise is to imagine your energy flowing around you in a circle that starts behind you at your feet and flows over your head, down the front of your body, and back down to your feet. As you inhale, the energy flows feet to head behind you. As you exhale, it flows from the head to your feet. Trace this movement with your hands making the motion of a water wheel in front of you as you breathe.

Eat Fresh Alive Foods

Energy also comes from the food you eat. When you eat processed, dead foods, the quality of energy is not nourishing. The amount of energy is not as plentiful. So choose fresh, alive foods to nourish your body. “Fresh” means recently harvested. “Alive” means something that was recently flying, crawling, swimming, growing, or grazing on the earth. Alive also means minimally processed. If you alter alive foods too much, you remove the life force. No life force = no energy. Avoid stimulants and depressants like sugar, caffeine and alcohol. These will deplete you.

Sleep

The body needs to balance activity with rest. When you push yourself beyond your limits, you begin borrowing energy. When you borrow more than you can repay, it leads to a crash. I have lots of clients who have lived this way. It’s a long, hard road to recovery. It’s like putting gas into a tank with a hole in it. Listen to your body. When you’re tired, rest.

Exercise

I just said that the body needs rest. It also need to move. It’s all about balance. Most of us sit all day most days. If this is you, make sure you take breaks to move. Exercise in moderation so that you don’t push yourself to depletion.

Social Interaction

People aren’t designed to live in isolation. We need other people to help us feel connected, inspired, cared for, important, help us to grow, and to give our love to. Isolation leads to depression. Intimate, happy interaction keeps our juices flowing. We don’t need a lot of people, an entourage, likes, or a fan club. One or two real, deep relationships is enough. Being with vibrant people generates and circulates our own energy in healthy ways.

Be Positive

Thoughts have energy. When you’re seeing and speaking negativity, you create draining energy around you. This isn’t to say that you should put on rose colored glasses and deny the ills of the world. It just means that adopting a nonjudgmental attitude is healthier for your energy body. This will keep you grounded in reality so that you can see what’s going on without getting wrapped up in it. And this is the point of the healthy energy body. When you have a healthy energy body, you can be in the present moment where you are responsive, not reactive. Your contained, not either over the top or flattened. You can give without over giving and depleting yourself. When others are dramatic, you can witness it without getting wrapped up in it.

Choose Well

There is no good or bad energy. It’s just energy. Some is beneficial, some isn’t. It’s really all about the right energy in the right place at the right time in the right amounts. Too much is not great. Too little it not great. Snake venom is great for a snake who needs to eat, but not great for a person. So it’s important to choose the things in your environment. Feng shui is all about placing the right colors and elements in the right places to maximize harmony. These things matter. Be mindful about who you allow around you, what you do for work, where you live, and how you live. It makes a difference. If you don’t have a great energy body, you probably need to limit negativity. When you’re strong, you can expose yourself to more without being toppled. Know yourself and your limits.

 

 

Understanding Personal Boundaries

personal boundaries

Imagine living in a high rise apartment building where most of the people’s flats have no doors or windows. Some have doors, but the locks are broken. Consequently, things get moved, taken, eaten, and used without permission. People can come in and watch your private business. You can see and hear what goes on in other people’s lives. It’s so close, you may even feel their emotions. Maybe you wake up with someone in your room or watching you sleep. Residents with doors may find them opened by people who don’t knock because everyone is used to just doing whatever they want.

This is what it’s like living in a society where lots of people don’t have healthy boundaries. You might hear things you don’t really want to hear, see things you don’t want to see, and even be touched by people who have no business touching you. (Or maybe you do this to others). You may take on other people’s struggles, feelings, or desires as your own. This can leave you feeling tired, manipulated, over burdened, and/or out of control. You may feel outraged or confused, like you don’t know what is going on. On the other hand, rigid or boundaries may leave you feeling isolated, fearful, and lonely. To understand how to fix this, let’s first look at what are boundaries.

What Are Boundaries?

More and more I hear people say that they aren’t even aware of what personal boundaries are. If we are a society that is unaware of boundaries, it’s no wonder that some people feel free to encroach on others’ space. It’s not surprising that others experience boundary violations. If you aren’t aware what boundaries are, it makes it really hard to enforce them or obey them.

Boundaries are a barriers that delineates where one thing ends and another begins. Take real estate for example. If you are a hunter and you hear that a plot by the lake allows hunting, how do you know where that land begins? How do you know where it ends? It is helpful to have a fence to form a barrier, isn’t it? It’s also helpful if those who don’t allow hunting or trespassing to have signs so that you know. That’s what boundaries do for you. They tell you what the rules are and give you parameters so that you know where those rules start and where they end.

Personal boundaries act like that fence. They are invisible energy barriers created by words, behavior, feelings, and intention that let’s people know where you begin and end. Like signs, they establish what is and isn’t acceptable to you. These boundaries are generally somewhat conditional and vary from person to person. For instance, people on a crowded bus or train often stand within inches of each other. However, if you did that while standing in line at a grocery store, people would think you were crazy. Another example is that “Guy” may allow people to hunt on his property, but “Sheila” doesn’t.

Now, if I am joking with my girlfriends about personal things we might all have a laugh. If I say those same things to my co-workers, someone might call me out for being offensive, insensitive, or harassing them. Context matters. I believe this is one of the reasons why #MeToo is happening. Boundaries can be confusing. So we may not know that we’re stepping over the line or what to do when someone violates our boundaries.

If the Rules Are Always Changing, How Do I Know What’s Appropriate?

Fortunately, there is an easy way around this. With a few simple guidelines, you never have to worry about violating someone else’s boundaries.

  1. Ask for permission before doing anything that involves another person. If someone else is affected by your actions, they have a right to be included and give permission first. This means saying things like: Do you want to …? Is that okay with you? How do you feel about that? Don’t assume. No mind reading either. A short skirt is not an invitation to touch. Having someone’s phone number doesn’t give you permission to send photos. What A agreed to last week is not true for B today. Avoid doubt. Ask.
  2. If your original request changes, you have to ask permission for the new request. Just because someone says it’s okay to kiss her doesn’t mean it’s okay to do anything else. Permission for X isn’t permission for Y. Again, don’t assume.
  3. Wait for a yes or no. The absence of a yes is a no. A maybe is a no. It’s hard for some people to say yes. Sometimes people are quiet because they can’t say yes. Backing away shows respect. It also teaches the person who can’t say yes to stand in her own power. It teaches the other person that she can’t get what she wants if she doesn’t ask for it and doesn’t accept it when it shows up. A healthy relationship requires equality and respect. This is one way to get it.
  4. Respect the no. Some people beg and plead until they get what they want. No means no. Talking someone into something is disrespectful. Trust that we all know our own mind. If we don’t, it’s not up to others to change it for us. If we lose out enough times, we will eventually catch on. But as long as we’re saying no, it’s a no.
  5. If you are unsure where you stand, do not move forward. If you are thinking about touching someone and you haven’t gotten a clear, verbal, “Yes,” stop. Maybe you told this joke to twenty people and they all laughed, but now you are unsure about whether it’s okay in the present company. If so, stop. Think of any grey area as a no go zone.
  6. It’s okay to change your mind. We make the boundaries as we go. Either party can change them for any reason. Yes is only yes until it’s no.
  7. If you are subjected to things you don’t like, you can either remove yourself from the situation or let the other person know that what is going on is not appropriate. You’ll have to look at the circumstances to know what is appropriate for that situation.
  8. If someone tries to blame you for something or obligate you to something, think of it as an offer. You can decline. Just because I serve a ball to you doesn’t mean you have to hit it back. If you don’t hit it back, we don’t have a game. Don’t play the game.
  9. If you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of your behavior, don’t subject others to it. How would you like to be cat called? Would you like to feel you can’t say no? How about being disregarded or walked on? Would you want your wife, mother, or child to hear what you are about to say? Healthy relationships require consideration and respect. Taking a little time to think about how the other person feels goes a long way.

It’s Up to You to Set Your Own Boundaries

Your boundaries are determined by you. If you don’t have any, you’re going to be overwhelmed by other people’s energy, demands, and problems. You aren’t going to have a lot of energy left for yourself because people will suck you dry. I’m not saying that people are horrible. I am saying that the lack of boundaries is basically a green light for others to do whatever they want. Other people can blame you for things, obligate you to do things you don’t want to do, subject you to things you don’t want to hear, and violate your body.

Setting personal boundaries won’t stop everyone. Some people are clueless. Having boundaries will filter out much of it however. Having healthy boundaries will also mean that you don’t get blindsided when someone complains about your behavior. You won’t have to find out what boundaries are by being fired, dragged into court, or being accused of inappropriate behavior.

A really useful way for maintaining healthy boundaries is to practice mindfulness. When you are mindful, you’re always present. This gives you a bit of distance from whatever is going on so that you see it clearly and can respond instead of react. Without mindfulness, you can get caught up in things and get carried away with the flow. When you look back and see what you could have done differently, it’s too late.

Here are some examples of mindful statements that reflect healthy boundaries. They are clear, firm, and fair. There is no chance for misunderstanding.

  • Yes, I will be glad to give you my attention when I finish typing this email.
  • I am not comfortable with that and do not want to participate. Thank you.
  • I respect your opinion (or maybe “You’re entitled to your opinion”) and I’m not willing to argue with you.
  • Let’s wait to discuss that when you’re voice is as calm as mine.
  • No.
  • I am sorry. I thought I was okay with that, but now I see that I am not.
  • Yes, I’d love to.
  • I am not a party to this. Can we talk about something else?

Make sure your behavior reflects your words. If you say no with a smile on your face and move in closer, you’re sending a mixed message. This doesn’t mean you have to be mean, just firm and congruent. Don’t worry about seeming being rude or mean. It’s neither rude nor mean to set a boundary.

Loose personal boundaries don’t generally lead to gross violations. They just tend to make things uncomfortable or uncertain. However, little violations lead to big violations. One violation leads to repeated violations. You don’t want to leave it up to others to take care of you because you’re likely to be not very well cared for.

When you exercise healthy boundaries, you experience less stress. You know who you are, what you want, and how you feel. You also command more respect. This reduces interpersonal misunderstandings. makes you safer, and makes your relationships a lot happier. It also reduces the likelihood that you will be falsely accused of inappropriate behavior, so it’s a two way street. Healthy boundaries are better for everyone.

 

Exercising the Right Use of Power

right use of power

Whenever life gives you a challenge, and this never stops, you have a choice how to view it. When you exercise the right use of power, you will always maintain your dignity and inner strength. If your goal is to maintain the relationship, the right use of power is also your best weapon. Feelings of invalidation don’t happen because using the right use of power keeps you in full possession of your power regardless of whether the situation ends up as a win, loss, or draw.

As with everything, there is a strategy for exercising the right use of power. I am going to share it with you here, but first let’s look at the roles people assume: the victim, hero, and oppressor.

The Victim

When there is a conflict, the victim deals with this by relinquishing power and responsibility and waiting for someone else to deal with it. Although the victim assumes little responsibility, he maintains control through helplessness. Those who use this as the primary way of functioning are usually the youngest child or a coddled child. He didn’t get to fail or struggle, so he doesn’t learn how to be self-sufficient.

The Hero

Our hero deals with issues by caretaking, rescuing, or saving the victim. He rescues in order to feel needed or important. Our hero is “Mr. Nice Guy.” He controls the situation by taking responsibility for the making things better. He’s learned that if he can be good, do things right, and please people, all will be well.

The Oppressor

The oppressor is the one who deals with conflict by becoming angry, critical, and blaming. His underlying message is “This is unfair! I am tired of carrying the load. Step up!” He doesn’t know how to meet his needs Effectively, so he controls the situation through rage and blame. This person learned early in life to stay in control by being strong and forceful. He learned to control through domination. By becoming the oppressor, he gains the energy to move out of his habitual role and say what he feels.

The Cycle

These roles are learned in childhood. Although people tend to primarily occupy one role, when the triangle is in motion, we move through all of the roles. Let’s look at an example to see what I mean.

“Sheila” (victim) is a stay-at-home mom who takes care of the household, finances, social calendar, pets, and children. “Guy” (hero) is the breadwinner who brings home the money to provide his family with all their wants and needs. When Sheila gets emotional and overwhelmed, Guy comforts her. When Sheila needs attention or things, Guy gets to be Santa Claus. This generally works out well for both parties. Sheila gets to feel cared for and Guy gets to feel important and in charge.

Then something happens. Let’s say that Sheila spends more than Guy expects. He sees the bill and explodes. Guy now steps into that oppressor role and rages about how he’s not appreciated. All he wants is some respect. Can’t she just reign it in sometimes? Etc.

Sheila responds by stepping into the hero position and tries to take charge by taking care of Guy. She says something like “It’s okay. Just let me know what you need. We can get through this.”

Now Guy feels bad about being so forceful that he begins to take care of her. Now that Mr. Nice Guy is back, Sheila collapses and starts crying and goes back to the victim role. This can either keep Guy in his caretaking/hero space or spin him up again into the oppressor. If this is a long standing situation, Guy is more likely to go back to feeling manipulated and overwhelmed by the tears and start the cycle all over again by taking in the oppressor energy. If the relationship is strong and/or the issues are small and infrequent, he’s more likely to stay the hero.

Another way that this can play out is that Sheila (the victim) can get tired of being the victim. She can get tired of hearing the message “If it weren’t for me, you’d be a helpless ruin.” So the victim blows up and moves into the oppressor role. It’s as if she’s saying, “I am tired of being treated like a child. Stop controlling me!” The hero responds by doing the “woe is me” victim role and this moves the couple back into their comfort zone. 

I’m talking about a romantic relationship, but this doesn’t have to be a couple. It can be parents and children, boss and employee, friends, or any type of relationship. Once you learn these roles, you tend to bring them with you wherever you go.

Okay, so we’ve got that right? Makes sense? Now here is the way out that I told you about.

First we step out of the labels and make sure that we clearly see these are roles and not identities. It’s very hard to change your identity, but really easy to change your roles. We all have lots of experience with this. We go from being first graders to second graders, singles to couples, and unemployed to employed. So you are not a victim, hero or oppressor, but maybe you’re playing that role.

The work of the victim is to give up helplessness, accept vulnerability, be solution focused and be more self aware. Victims are encourage to take responsibility for choosing the way they feel, respond, and act. They are also encouraged to make steps towards creating what they want. For instance, if you don’t want to be treated like a baby, become more of an active participant in your own life.

The work of the hero is showing caring and concern without doing the work of anyone else. He can do this by asking clarifying questions to help the victim get clear on what she wants and guide her to make informed choices. He can also see the victim as an equal who is capable of solving her own problems if given the proper guidance. That goal is equality.  A healthy relationship needs this. So it’s a win/win and also the best way of caretaking. The hero can also simply witness the situation, affirm, and do nothing.

Oppressors work on asking for what they want in an assertive way, but without demanding or controlling.

If you’re in the triangle and are hit with the oppressor, instead of going to the victim, be direct. Ask the person in the oppressor role what he wants. Listen mindfully. Then ask yourself if/how you did anything to provoke that. If so, accept responsibility for your part. If not, don’t take ownership of it. This means don’t fix it and don’t coddle.

All players need to adjust their power so that they are neither giving up nor taking on more than is legitimately theirs. When we do this, we allow others to live fully as we live fully. Witnessing is very healing. A person can step up and take care of themselves when given this support. It’s really powerful.

All players also need to see the truth of their own needs. If I a catch myself playing the hero (or any other role) and can say, “Oh, that’s my need to feel safe,” it opens up other choices. Instead I might choose to have an honest conversation, get vulnerable, take a break, or do anything other than rescue.

The way out of this drama triangle is to stop playing the game. These are all manipulations. It only takes one player to bow out and the whole thing collapses. All players need each other to sustain the tension and balance. When you step out and say, “I see you. I care, and I am not going to engage in this way” it forces those around you to meet you where you are or continue to play the game with someone else.

We all need power to live a fully actualized, authentic life. How you use power is really important. So be careful to stand fully in your own without dominating, subjugating, or borrowing that of others. Life is more fun when you’re running with equals.

*These ideas are from Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle, Acey Choy’s Winner Triangle, and The Power of TED.

‘Tis the Season for Gratitude

gratitude

‘Tis the season for gratitude! With the fall harvest in, and Thanksgiving just days away, it’s nice to take a moment to give thanks for all the blessings and growth you’ve received this year. It’s also a great time to think about what you’d like the coming year to be like. Hopefully growing in gratitude is part of that.

Appreciate has two meanings: to be thankful and to increase in value. These two things go hand in hand. You can’t feel and express gratitude without it increasing and coming back to you. It’s also an important part of creating a happy lifestyle.

Positive psychology research has proven that expressing gratitude leads to the following benefits:

  • improves overall well-being
  • make people more agreeable and open
  • increases life satisfaction and decreases depression
  • improves relationships by creating a more forgiving nature, enhancing connection and satisfaction
  • promotes relationship formation and maintenance
  • reduces stress, cortisol levels, and increases heart coherence

So how do you create a lifestyle of gratitude so that you can have all these wonderful benefits? Here are some ideas.

Write a Gratitude Letter

The gratitude letter is something that has been studied over and over. Writing a gratitude letter makes the recipient feel good, but it makes the writer feel even better! In fact, the benefits last for about 30 days!

Here’s how you do it. Think of someone who has done something important or nice for you whom you haven’t acknowledged. This can be your boss, neighbor, family member, friend, or even someone you don’t know very well. Think about what this person did and how it impacted you. Write about it from the heart. Be specific.

Personalize it. Maybe you can write it out in your own hand. Or perhaps you choose pretty stationery. Some have framed it. You want to make it special.

Now present it. Perhaps you can go for coffee or lunch. Read it to the person before you give it to him or her. This makes it more of an event that honors what they did. You may be surprised at how moving it is for you and them. Such a small thing can be so healing and bonding. Try it.

Here are some other ideas:

  • start each morning with acknowledgement, like a gratitude prayer
  • end each day with a dinner time ritual of sharing the high for the day with someone
  • each day write something that you are grateful for and put it in a jar. Take them out and look at them when things aren’t going so great.
  • write in a gratitude journal daily. Use a bulleted lists, sentences, or paragraphs.
  • when things aren’t going great, stop your thoughts and think of something that you can appreciate. For example, if you just got into a car accident, you might think, “I am so happy no one was hurt.” If you got passed over for a promotion at work, you can think, “I am thankful to have been interviewed.” When you focus on the silver lining, disappointments don’t take you so low.
  • when you are with loved ones, give each person a chance to acknowledge the gifts that each person brings to the world. It’s an incredible bonding exercise
  • make a gratitude tree. It’s like an Angel tree. Instead of taking a tag with a wish on it, you write down the things you are grateful for and decorate the tree with your blessings. This is particularly nice if it’s in a place like a business, dorm, or public space where lots of people contribute to it. Blessings are contagious. When you read or hear about what others have received, the happiness is shared.

As you are acknowledging your blessings, don’t censor yourself. Don’t say or write what you think you are “supposed to.” If you are thankful for your car, good looks, or boyfriend, say that! Make it come from the heart. Keep it real.

The holidays are rough for so many people. They can bring back old grudges. Family obligations can put you into contact with people that you don’t like or who haven’t been very nice to you. Holiday stress and travel can make you cranky. Getting out of your routine, eating and drinking too much can make you feel not your best. “Tis the season for gratitude! Stay focused on what it’s all about and perhaps this year will be different. Try it and let me know how it goes.