Every time you make a commitment to your own self-care, self-love and self-respect and then follow through, you build trust in yourself.
Miranda J. Barrett
It’s a beautiful, hot, late summer day here in the foothills of Fort
Collins, CO. The gardens are overflowing with an abundance of
flowers and veggies and the bees and butterflies are daily
visitors (along with grasshoppers, but that's a whole 'nother
story). Like me, you may notice that your essential rhythm is
shifting with the seasonal changes. Despite the hot days still
ahead, the energy of the sun has shifted. The days are getting
noticeably shorter. We are beginning to see signs of the Great
Mandala turning toward autumn. The first of the leaves are
turning yellow, the skies are azure blue, and the nights are cool.
Do you recall, "back in the day", when students usually wrote a
short essay entitled, “What I did for summer vacation.”
I feel like I've been on vacation for a few months. Sometimes,
not in a good way.
Have you noticed all the ways that the world is changing (not
only the natural world)? It's hard to miss, right? From the way
we learn (and teach)… to the way we work (and the KIND of
work we do)… to the way we connect, communicate, and
collaborate with each other… in so many ways, life is very
different from how it was just a few short months ago!
I know. Me too. Sometimes, I just need to stop and take a deep
When our minds try to comprehend (that's what minds are wired
to do) the changes, challenges and suffering in our world today
it can shut us down, or close us off from life force energy.
There's a paradox here, a contradiction: We want to stay awake
to it AND, IT, is so much to hold. And even though we try to,
we're not meant to hold it all. For a lot of reasons, sometimes
we try because we think that that is what makes us a part of the
whole, or maybe makes us a “good” person who is always
available to help and support others, who never says no.
It's important to recognize that you can be awake to the
suffering but that you don’t have to carry the weight of it on your
shoulders. For many of us that's a difficult ask: Stay open
hearted and at the same time don't get overwhelmed.
This is not about me (or you) doing it all, taking it all on; it's not
about any one individual. Damn. Here is another place where
we may experience a multitude of seemingly conflicted truths.
I'm my own being with a unique experience of our world right
now. AND I am profoundly connected to the whole, perhaps in
ways that my human understanding is unable to comprehend.
needs people with greater sensitivity, compassion, and a sense
of connection to each other and the natural world. Yes, the
world needs us, people who are grounded and stand firmly in
their sovereignty. And, in order to respond to that need, we
must understand ourselves on a deep level.
Are You an Empath, a Highly Sensitive Person, or a
Have you been told (or discovered on your own) that you’re a
really good listener, have a big heart, are passionate, caring,
creative, in touch with your emotions, see the "big picture", and
easily see where others are coming from? You may already
know these are the gifts of an empath and/or a highly sensitive
person (HSP). Dr. Judith Orloff, author of "The Empath’s
Survival Guide", is one of the leading experts of empathetic
personality types gives an overview of the distinction
between empaths and HSPs Check out her 20 question
Are You an Empath quiz, too.
Whether you're an empath or an HSP or a deeply caring
person, many of us agree that there are both pros and cons to
being exceptionally sensitive. On one hand, we tend to be great
friends and partners, generous, and reliable. On the other
hand, we are often described as “emotional sponges” and
people who “take on the pain of others at their own expense,”
meaning they can easily become upset or overwhelmed by their
emotions and environments.
If you've noticed that you're highly sensitive or an empath,
you've likely developed many effective strategies to deal with
the inherent challenges that come with exceptional sensitivity.
Like you, I use those strategies in daily life as well as with
clients. For me to thrive as a well-being coach, I need these
strategies to protect myself from sensory overload or burn out.
I believe pursuing self-mastery along with spiritual, physical and
emotional well-being are two of the most valuable investments
we can make in our lifetime. It’s a tremendous gift to be either
an empath or an HSP and we don't want to close ourselves off
from these gifts—but if we haven’t learned to regulate our gifts
and set strong boundaries, the energy we absorb from others
can lead to emotional and physical dis-ease. While being very
attuned to others and your environment can be beneficial in
many ways, it’s also important to protect ourselves from
overwhelm and self-criticism.
Even with the strategies you're using, do you struggle with
absorbing the stress and the suffering you see (and feel) all
over the world?
How can we ground ourselves, set boundaries, and hold space
for others in a healthy way?
Tips For Protection and Self-Care
Here are three self-care practices that protect you from
overwhelm, without resorting to self-numbing, overeating, or
addiction, from our friends at Lorian Education and Dr. Orloff
1. Honor the Losses
First, we need to give ourselves time to acknowledge the losses
we're experiencing— the way the world used to be, separation,
the loss of safety and security, fears of what might happen.
While it's important to be in tune with the grief that others feel,
it's just as vital that we steady our own energy fields with our
daily practices and by seeking out support from friends and/or
health and well-being practitioners. Check out the services that
my friend and colleague Bonnie Thompson offers.
Remember, the death of the old, contains the seeds of new
beginning. This time of year – the dying plants turn into seeds
for next year’s growth.
2. Set boundaries and stick to them--Practice Sacred
For empaths and HSPs, it's hard to set boundaries. And, we
need to set boundaries. Without them you're not going to be
available and present. Sensory overload isn't good for anyone.
You're not selfish if you want to be happy.
You're not selfish if you want time to yourself.
You're not selfish if you don’t want to give up yourself to take
care of others.
Tune into your intuition and give yourself permission to:
Be clear about your boundaries: Who are the people you
want to be around? What works best for you in a variety of
Remember, it's not necessary to always be open.
Say NO=no isn't a 4 letter word. AND, you're not selfish if you
need to say no in order to honor your needs.
Get comfortable with not solving others’ problems. It's a
process. This takes time. Give yourself some grace and be
patient with yourself.
Sacred Selfishness creates harmony, raises your frequency and gives others the dignity of their own process... (by)teaching them that they are competent and do not need to be rescued.
For better or worse, empaths and HSPs are tuned into the
people and environments around them. This is why making time
to unwind, ideally alone and in nature, is a great strategy for
restoring your energy and relaxing. When you practice self-care
techniques throughout the day you're holding sacred space
while not taking on all the stress and suffering, you're holding
the light without taking on the toxic energies.
When an environment feels hectic and overwhelming, practice
self-care and step away from it for at least a few minutes to
clear your thoughts and your energy field before returning.
The most restorative environments tend to be those with few
people and no noise, bright lights, phone calls, texts, emails,
internet, television or conversations.
The healing power of nature is a source of replenishment. "Go
into nature" whenever possible as a means of coming into and
sustaining your power as an empath/HSP.
Connectivity with nature creates a map for moving forward
toward a greater sense of community, toward a vision of what it
means to be connected energetically as a global, planetary
family. It's a way of knowing we are all connected--the Earth,
humans, plants, forests, the Universe--the great love that
nurtures, sustains, and surrounds us. These past few months
have offered a way for humanity to learn that we're all
connected, we're guardians of the Earth, we are co-creators.
We need each other!
Also, practice mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-
compassion to quieten the inner critic and clear limiting beliefs.
Practices that support making those shifts include EFT/Tapping
Each of us can make a difference.
The time is now — and our help is needed to act with love and
compassion, in calm and steadiness, in alliance with each other
and with our seen and unseen co-creative partners. How we
stand with what is happening individually and collectively during
this turbulent time will make a difference for each of us
individually, and just as important, it will determine how
humanity’s relationship with Earth proceeds. That is big! This is
not just "the News," it is important work.
We have the knowing and the tools for this job. We are the
ones we've been waiting for. We have an exceptional capacity
to sense subtle energy, connect to and align with the natural
world and tune in to interconnectedness--to Wholeness.
This Co-Creative Mandala "Protection" from a photo of yucca
flowers (symbols of protection) reminds us of the importance of
self-care. During turbulent times it may be more difficult to invest
time and energy toward our needs or for protecting ourselves
from being overwhelmed by all the energy coming into our field.
Take the space and time you need to nurture your body and spirit. Focus on self-care--
you deserve it!
In this simple, yet powerful exercise, I invite you to celebrate
"Protection" and feel supported by your inner and outer
resources. Honor this powerful time of change and uncertainty.
We are moving into autumn. You've protected and nurtured what
you planted in the spring. You didn't just toss seeds in the dirt
and expect to come back to an abundant harvest. The seeds
you planted required loving care in order to truly blossom. When
you tend your garden well–if you protect and nurture what you
plant in your life (and in your garden)–you will experience
expansive growth and bountiful harvests.
Noticing the inner and outer effects of seasonal changes tunes
in to your inner wisdom and your "essential rhythm".
Are there times during the seasons when you experience a
deep, slow pace? Are there points in the seasons when you
move more quickly? Need more rest? Feel more energetic?
Being mindful of the changing seasons and how the changes
show up in your life cultivates self-awareness throughout the
Give yourself plenty of time without interruptions to dive deeply
into this exercise. Meditate, journal, create and bless your
Make this exercise your own. Invest your time and attention
toward your personal growth and well-being.
As you sit quietly in your space, light a candle that welcomes
the "Protection" vibration.
In a moment, when you are done reading through the
instructions, write everything that the Co-Creative
Mandala-"Protection" makes you think of. Write how you feel
when you look at it. Write about what the associated chakras
represent (solar plexus, heart, throat, and crown) and how
that might be applicable to your journey toward Oneness this
Close your eyes. Bring your awareness to your breath; just be
with your breath. Take a deep breath in. Breathe out.
Take another deep breath in. Breathe out. Notice the sensations
as you exhale—without judgement. Feel the body breathing.
Bring your body into stillness.
Open your eyes and bring your attention to the "Protection"
mandala; allow the mandala energy to fill your heart; be with
whatever is there.
Invest a few minutes toward allowing the "Protection" vibration
to flow to and through your body. Imagine that energy bursting
through your crown chakra and extending far into the heavens.
Imagine the "Protection" vibration flowing through you and down
deep into the earth. Imagine it radiating from your heart and
extending out in front of you and behind you. Imagine the
"Protection" vibration is a radiant ball that encircles you.
Now, sit with this energy for a few minutes.
What about the "Protection" mandala captures your attention?
Notice and Wonder--Something in me is feeling...
I wonder what it wants me to know, to discover?
Relax into your body and its quietness. Be with the energy, be
Here's the exercise:
I’m inviting you to tune in to your inner wisdom and set the
intention of connecting with your own "essential rhythm".
There might be some layers that you get to clear as you go
within - including all the times you have overridden your own
rhythm and when it hasn’t been respected or honored by others.
You get to reclaim your own rhythm in this moment.
The best protection you have is heart-centered.
>Close your eyes, breathe, slowly, feel your body relaxing,
breathe in, exhale stress, tension anything you might have
taken on that's not yours; give yourself permission to let go,
surrender, trust yourself.
~Breathe in your wholeness, breath out what isn't you;
*Place your hand on your heart--offer yourself unconditional
love, peace, calm, and compassion.
>Come you back to your loving heart where you are safe,
protected, and fully yourself.
~Offer yourself loving kindness, warmth, connectedness, come
home within your heart.
*Allow that warmth and kindness you're offering, to expand in
your heart, without forcing or efforting.
>Allow the gifts of your loving heart to replenish yourself,
reminding you of what is most important=your loving self, your
You can return to the inner refuge where you are safe and
protected anytime you like.
Now, get our your journal or pen and paper and reflect on the
From the place of refuge and safety, the questions you might
1. "What can I do to apply these protection and self-care tips in
my daily life?"
2 "What needs to change and emerge that supports inner and
3. "How can I integrate and ground the understanding that
comes from my daily practices so that I can be fully present in
4. "How can I use these insights to bring calmness to a turbulent
The best spiritual protection comes from being fully embodied
and approaching the world with curiosity and compassion.
Safety and freedom rest in being our sovereign, true selves.
Many teachers and wise ones are saying that empaths and
HSPs are on the forefront of a new way of being for humankind.
We have exceptional attunement to the natural world and a
great capacity for spiritual awakening. Our gifts are precious,
especially at this time of human evolution. Those gifts are the
source of our purpose--to keep opening our hearts and do our
part to bring more love, light, and compassion to the world.
Our gifts are needed so much today.
Peace and joy to your loving heart,