For those of us who are sensitive, boundaries can mean tricky business…
An effective early step in working with boundaries* is to begin to understand our own energetic and physical bodies and what feels good to us. Most empaths, sensitives and people who have experienced trauma have developed an energy pattern that is quite literally out-of-body.
We do this to achieve a perceived sense of safety, but what happens is that we lose the ability to discern what is ours and what isn’t ours and where we end and others begin. We become confused over what feels good and right to us and what compromises us in some way. We also become uncertain as to what is our responsibility and what isn’t (other by-products of being out-of-body include overwhelm, anxiety, confusion, ungroundedness and more).
Here is a simple body scan exercise that can help you to get started. I love this exercise and use some variation of it almost every day for myself. Over time, using this and other techniques, I’ve been able to create a very strong sense of self ~ one that enables me to be fully present in my body, empowered in my empathy and intuition, and capable of maintaining fluid boundaries that honor my true needs and all of those I’m in relationship with. Through this work, I’ve been able to know and honor my true feelings.
- Take a moment to get settled and quiet in a chair or lying down on your back with your stomach, solar plexus and heart centers open.
- Turn your attention to your breath. On your in-breath, feel your belly rise and expand. Let your breath begin in your stomach and then rise through your diaphragm and then lungs.
- Allow your out-breath to be at least as long as your in-breath and feel your tummy fall as you release and let go.
- Do about 10 rounds of this breathing.
- Next, turn your attention to your body. This type of breathing connects you back into your core and will help you to feel more embodied immediately. (This is great to do anytime you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.)
- Start at your toes and move your way up, just noticing and feeling your body. If any judgments arise, gently release them and return to the breath and the scan.
- When you feel calm and centered, ask your body to show you what “yes” feels like. This may come as a sense of expansion, a smile, an opening of the heart or in another way that feels good to you. If it doesn’t come immediately, that is okay. Just breathe and stay centered. You may need to give it a few minutes or try again at a later time. For many of us, being fully embodied is a new experience and we may need to have space to explore it further before understanding it fully.
- After you have your affirmative response, ask your body to show you “no.” My body shows me this by constricting in the heart center. Some feel it in their belly or head. Any of the responses can shift and change as well, though the quality of them will tend to remain the same.
- You can also ask your body to show you a neutral response, as oftentimes that is the case as in a situation like this: “How would an apple for a snack be for me?” If you have no sensitivities to an apple, it may show up in a neutral, if-you-want-it sort of way.
- When you are finished, turn back into your breath and send thoughts of gratitude to your body for supporting you.
With practice, understanding your authentic, full-bodied “YES!” will become second nature and you will be able to discern which people, places and situations do and don’t feel good to you. From there, you can begin the process of living from a space of honoring that yes and aligning with it more consistently. Ultimately, that YES! will open new doors of exploration and freedom to you.
With much love!
*Boundaries are complex. The activity above is a great place to start and there are many tools that can help you to begin shifting them. Fully understanding them may require you to undergo deep, emotional clearing work, especially if there is trauma. If there are core trauma wounds present, I recommend working with Elicia Miller to help clear them in conjunction with resetting your energy field and working with tools such as the one above.