The Light Within

I breathe in the crisp fall air as the last of the sun’s light fades into the deep darkness of night. The cool air dances across my skin, sinking deep down until I feel a chill throughout. It is both unpleasant yet revitalizing. The intensity of cold hits my system and reminds me of life the within my body. The life within my flesh is magnified by the icy discomfort. I breathe in deeply and close my eyes to soak in the moment. Feeling my breath hit deep within me, to the place where it touches the soul. The connection makes my heart skips a beat. A smile dances across my face as I gaze up at the dark sky and look upon the stars shining brightly. Oh, how the sky feels more like home than any other place I’ve been. My spirit stirs within me, yearning for places I have not known.

The stars beckon to my soul. As though they are old friends reaching out. Whispering secrets from eons past. I long to roam freely through the cosmos. An ever shining light that travels years through the expanse of darkness searching for someone to recognize the magnificence of my soul’s inner radiance. Looking for those lost in the endless night, to guide them along until they find their own inner radiance. For only a few know what it’s like to shine brightly through the great dark ether, hoping for one day someone will see your light. Years of travel through the dark abyss to find the one who’s heart will sing at the sight of your soul’s shining.

Yet still my body feels at home among the trees, as they know how to reach for the heavens while remaining firmly grounded. They breathe in that which suffocates and turn it into life sustaining air. My heart’s greatest desire is to be like them. To transform that which poisons the world surrounding me, all the pain, all the loneliness, and show others how love can transform it into gratitude and wisdom. To show how we’re all connected and one with the flow of life.

For there is a river within each of us. Ever flowing, never knowing for sure if it’s path will bring it back to reunite with the Source. An ocean of oneness in a world full of drought. The river knows that with such shear power it doesn’t matter what obstacles lie within its path. For partnered with the currents of time, the river has nothing that can withstand it. Water flowing only needs time to transforms what is in its path. For even one day the rock will be shaped by its current.

If only these words may flow and reach out to touch another’s soul. To find those who feel lost; those searching and yearning for that which cannot quite be explained. To comfort the lonely. Those who feel beaten by the waves of crashing down on them. Lost in a crowd who is blind to the greatness that lies within. Do not fret. Do not faulter on your journey. Your contribution to the world is far greater than you can imagine. It is only once you see it that you will truly be free. Remember it is human nature to overlook the beauty of the world. Do not doubt the power you retain, due to the few who are too blind to see the magnificence of the universe that resides within you.

Mindful Connection

As I previously discussed, I’d like to further touch on how our disconnected perspective with mental health is because we connect the mind and the soul as though they are one and the same. That perhaps we need to reframe our perception of the mind.

What if we could look at it as a dashboard or interface to connect the soul to the physical existence? A way for our soul to experience, and be touched by, this thing we call life. But not necessarily something that defines the spirit. Especially with how it seems the line is blurred between soul and physicality. It would be easy to see the how we could lose sight of how truly magnificent the spirit is. Yet we’re so ignorant about what the soul even is; leaving a definition complex. So, with a lack of a universal definition and explanation, truly it is up to what you feel is your truth. Just maybe don’t be so hard on yourself and others, we’re all still in beta testing.

Though be it through the heights of happiness, the bliss of love, or the depths of sadness. I know my soul is more. It’s at these moments of intensity that I feel my soul’s connection is more easily seen. But I also know it’s still there during the monotony of every day routine. Yet I don’t feel that these aspects of the physical experience, define my soul. Though other souls leave an imprint, I feel that Spirit is an everlasting strength, a certainty, I can tap into whenever I choose. Or more like whenever I remember how to, as disconnection feels like an epidemic.

I know it’s not a new realization, but even though we’re more easily connected than ever, the vast majority of people feel lonely. It’s an ironic fact that we’re all lonely together… In s highly accessible world. Is this due to the way technology takes away those highs and lows? Or puts controls on it so we may choose to not experience the intensity at times? Those moments that make the connection more visible, it allows us a filter. Or at least places them in solitude within a device, rather than in unpredictable personal interactions. I feel that it’s more fear of unpleasant interactions or judgement, with technology being a good assistance in avoidance. A lot of negative stuff in our existence goes back to roots in some sort of fear.

Now with that all being said, there’s still times technology may precipitate these deeply connecting experiences, but I see how it can dull the more common interactions. We’re more in control, but perhaps that control comes at a cost? I think it boils down to what all of humanity must advance in, which is mindfulness and moderation.

I greatly value connections I’ve made with people that I might never have had the opportunity to, had it not been for the internet. But I also notice the colder interactions with people closer to me. Such as feeling forced to stay on a platform I dislike to just have any sort of connection or interaction with some friends and family. Rather than phone calls or scheduling chats over coffee. We update our status and put up pictures online to keep others informed. Yes, there may be more information in quantity, but what about quality? Or connection? Remember, it’s more fulfilling to see your beautiful face in person than the perfected photo on your account. Even if there’s a new one every day.

Perhaps in the world of filters and followers, that disconnection with self becomes greater. Due to the pressure of needing an instagood worthy experience every day. When most of us realize how generally the same our daily lives are. But it’s ok to not be picture perfect. Connecting to the real person is far more satisfying than a perfectly filtered image.

In the end it’s ok to dive into the digital world and play a part. But don’t forget to tap out routinely, to take time to tap into connection with your soul, as well as others. It can be a powerful tool for good after all.

As humans it seems we have many things to learn about what mindfulness really is and how it plays a role not only in our physical health but also our spiritually health and connectivity. One of the many good things about the internet is that are more capable of being able to remind each other to take time out to reach out, or reach within. Just think of it as being similar to how your device’s operating system needs updates routinely, so does your spirit. We just get the cool opportunity to connect in many ways, be it spiritually upgrading to connect with others. It during times alone sketching/whatever helps you reach a meditative space. Just take that time to tap in and level up! 😉

10 Tips for Empaths

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The Empathic Journey

Years ago I probably would’ve thought you were crazy if you asked me “Are you an Empath?”. I didn’t even really understand what it was until a few years back, and even then it was only talked about on the super hippy-tastic circles. Mostly, because was so misunderstood. Which is how I felt at the time too.

For those who don’t know, an Empath is someone who has a higher-than-average ability to pick up on other people’s feelings. It is more than just empathy, where you can try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. No, an Empath can feel another person’s joy or pain. They can tell someone is upset before they’ve even spoken. With people they’re really close to, they may be able to “just tell” something is off and call to check-in with that loved one. Empaths often don’t like large crowds, because they pick up so many different emotions. They can have anxiety and feel drained often. There’s a great article that talks about how to recognize if you are an Empath, by Judy Orloff, M.D., which you can find here. What I wanted to discuss today was more aimed for those who are already aware that they are empathic.

I feel as though we’re living in a great time for Empaths, even though there are many challenges we face. I feel like it is so awesome to see it more and more accepted. As a teenager I could have greatly benefited from better understanding my Empathic capabilities. I have vivid memories of games I made up as a child, where I’d try to guess what other people were feeling. Like if I saw a car coming in the other direction, I’d close my eyes and try to “guess” what their mood was. Then look at their expressions as they drove past. But I also struggled with feeling responsible for the negative emotions of others. Like I had to fix it, and I didn’t always know how.  And I didn’t understand why I was sad, just because someone I was around was sad. As I got older, I learned how to use this talent to explain people’s emotions back to them in a way that brought comfort or clarity. I think that is why my social circle jokingly referred to me as the group’s therapist. But there wasn’t much support for me back then. I often felt overwhelmed and confused as to why. I don’t look back longing for a different outcome, I am happy with who I am and those experiences shaped me. But I’d love it if I could help anyone else ease the struggle.

If I had known what an Empath was and told people this, I think a few people would’ve thought I lost my mind, and I might have had a few try to give me an exorcism. But truly, I do not see it as a paranormal gift. I feel that it is a personality trait, one that is evolving within humanity. It seems to me that there are far more Empath’s now, so it only makes sense that we will talk about it more. And hence, it will continue to become more accepted. I personally feel it is just a development of our senses. With most talents there are those who have a better innate talent for it. For these Empaths, they easily have an understanding of micro-expressions and body language. I think as time goes on, we’ll only better understand what it means to be an Empath and why it occurs in some with great intensity. For all of us who identify with it, I hope we can learn to understand it in a way that allows us to see it as a gift.

As an Empath, you’ll likely have heard “overly-sensitive” a lot. You’ll learn to cover up your discomfort in many different situations, just to avoid the judgement. This is draining and frustrating. But I’ve learned a few tools that help me navigate a world of emotions, and be able to tell which ones are mine.

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1. Bubble!
Have you ever play Super Mario Bros.? There’s a way that if you can’t keep up with a friend while playing together, you can hit a button and a little bubble appears around you for protection/help. I want you to think of this in times of high emotions. If things are really intense around you, giggle about being in a video game and imagine pressing an internal button, that initiates your own bubble. You will need to practice this for it to be really effective. So, before you go to bed each night, take some deep breaths. Imagine a warm light, of any color that comforts you, fill your heart. Let it build and build until you can feel it envelop you in a peaceful warmth. If you fall asleep, it’s perfectly okay! Your intention is there. But it is best to try to stay awake so you can really connect to your breath.

Breathing will become your a superpower. I refer to this deep connective breathing as breathing in until you feel it touch your soul. There’s this special feeling you get right in your chest, when you breathe in deep enough. This is where you are being fully present, fully connected, and fully in power. Breathe it in and hold it once it touches your soul. That is the button to turn on your bubble. The great thing is, once you practice, no one will ever know you are using your bubble. It will just look like you are breathing.

2. Music
We get easily drained as Empaths, and it takes time to learn how to not be “open” to everyone’s emotions. So, it is necessary to find things that refill your energy. This is one you are going to have to play around with, because preferences are subjective. But I find music to be one of the most helpful tools for me as an Empath. You start by watching which songs make you happy, not because of old memories. But purely because the beat makes you smile. Put these songs on your phone, so they are always with you. Seriously, it is okay to put in your earbuds and lock yourself in the bathroom for a 30 second dance party! Or to take a break and park somewhere in your car to belt out with your favorite song. Try it next time you feel as though everyone has drained the life-force from you.

3. Move it! 
Yes, just like I said to go lock yourself somewhere you can do a quick dance party. The same goes for any movement. Getting your circulation going isn’t only good for your physical health, it is good for your emotional health. I am not going to tell you to go run, because you may hate running. I just want you to find something that makes you want to move. Do you love the swing-set? Go swing! Love to jump? There are trampoline parks in most cities. Or at least you can get a little jump on at home. Try out different classes in your area, even things that sound weird. You may find something unique that you really love.

4. Essential Oils
There are so many oils out there that are helpful, but I can’t possibly include them all in this post. I highly recommend that you try new ones, whenever you have the option! Some of the basic oils I would recommend are:
– Lavender, or Ylang-ylang, for anxiety: Personally, I prefer Ylang-ylang as it is a lighter and more floral smell. It reminds me of sunshine. And I reach for it when I know I am going into a situations with high emotions. Just one or two drops on the chest, by your heart. But lavender is a great starter oil. It has many uses, is easily obtained, and often very affordable. It can also help relieve stress and anxiety.
– Eucalyptus, for rejuvenation: This oil is a great way to recharge when you are feeling drained. The same goes for any of the mints.
– Sandalwood, or Frankincense, for protection: My favorite oil is Frankincense. I love its rich earthy scent and it is so diverse in its uses. Be it to protect you from negative energies, or to fight off that cold. It is very helpful. In fact, in studies it has been seen to have antidepressant effects and even boosts the immune system! Just be sure to keep your oils somewhere cool, preferably dark, and private. It may sound silly, but emotions are just energy. It’s best to keep your oils somewhere away from other people’s energy.

5. Sacred Space
This is a must have. You have to have a space set aside for yourself. It doesn’t have to be big. I’ve known some people to even use their car! It just has to be a place you can control to some degree. Truly it can be anywhere you can relax. But ideally it is a place you can decorate, purify, and make yours. I recommend routinely saging your space, to cleanse and protect. But you can cleanse with a prayer or intention as well. Oils and crystals may also be used to cleanse your space. Whatever allows you to really claim the space as your own. Use your space to go and relax. To get away from the world. Even if it is just for a few minutes.

5. Creative Expression
Do not give me that “Oh, I can’t draw.” line, it is an old outdated thought that is holding you back. Just like there are a ton of ways to get moving, there are a ton of ways to be creative. Even with drawing/painting there are a ton of different styles, or you can make one up! With humanity we like structure, so that we feel taken care of and safe enough to go outside of those defined boundaries and grow.

So, in order to grow, you gotta start somewhere! Go scribble on some paper. Or shred it into tiny pieces and make a shape out of them. Mix paint together (at Wal-Mart acrylic paint is under a dollar per container or even on sale at times for 50 cents) and drip, splatter, or dump it onto paper. As long as it is yours and you don’t care, you can dump that paint on anything! Go get an art kit for kids, play with air dry clay, or go out to a pottery class. There are options for every budget and lifestyle. You just need to go try it. Poor all those emotions into your art. Let it go through you, into your art. Rather than hold onto it. I think you’ll not only feel better, you’ll be surprised at what you can create!

6. Unplug
There are at least a few times a week we can all turn off our phone, or at least the ringer. And far more times we can all step away from the internet. Personally, I turn my phone on vibrate whenever possible. I also limit the number of apps that have permission to give me notifications. In fact, I’ve never allowed Facebook to have permission to give me notifications and I swear it has a daily temper tantrum. I am available by my phone for emergencies. But seriously, years ago we survived without cellphones. Where you had to play phone tag with someone’s answering machine. We weren’t always available or connected 24/7, and the world didn’t implode. Just making sure your ringtone doesn’t jolt you each time it goes off, can help greatly. Try soothing tones whenever possible.

7. No
This one is tough, but you have to start practicing saying no. I see this with Empath’s a lot, they feel obligated to fix things or maintain the peace. While sacrificing their emotional well-being or happiness. Creating boundaries will help you tremendously, and if they are healthy, it can help strengthen relationships too. This can be as simple as not answering the door when you have no expected guests, no missed calls/texts, and especially if it is a time when you usually aren’t available. Or ignoring a call for a number you don’t know. As well it can be saying no if friends want to go out to a club you hate because it is too loud, or when your family is pressuring you to have dinner with that family member who is always rude. The one everyone knows hates you anyway. I am not saying never be around them, just know once-in-awhile you have a choice. It is okay to say no. Being an adult we have that magic power. We get a choice. Sometimes feeling obligated, we can forget that magic power. There is nothing wrong with saying, “Nah, thanks. I want to just go home and relax.” and leave it at that. Let them complain or tease you. Learn to say no, and feel that you have the right to say it, because you do. There are times you can make compromises, but do not allow it to turn into running your life.

8. Cherish Me Time
For Empaths the best thing you will ever do for yourself, is learning to like hanging-out with yourself. It will not only help you to be a more independent adult, but it will help you get experience with what your emotions feel like. Sometimes when you have so many emotions rolling around inside you, it can feel terrifying to be alone with them. But depending on others to distract you from all of it, can actually be what is adding to it. I know for a good portion of my generation, we weren’t really taught a lot about emotional intelligence.

Think about how you were taught all these subjects in school to “prepare” you for the “real world”. Were there any classes on emotional intelligence? I’ll bet most say no, if you did say yes. Please, send me an email. I want to know what cool school you went to! And I don’t mean that one week your health class teacher talked about stress. Emotions are far more complicated than a one week topic in a class.

So, for most of us it is either expected that parents/guardians would teach us. Or we’d magically acquire the tools for emotional management. But for many they were not given tools, or they were given ones that were dysfunctional due to generations lacking proper emotional intelligence. Today more than ever it is so important to gain emotional intelligence. There are so many streams of information bombarding us with intentions of emotional manipulation. Without proper understanding, it is hard to decipher it all, let alone recognize when it is being used to manipulate us. Plus, with all the digital ways we can “escape” it is easier and easier to become disconnected with yourself. I’ll bet most of us don’t even notice it. The side effects of enjoying time with yourself are increase self-esteem, self-love, and the abandonment of any fear attached to eating or going to the movies ALONE. Hey, being able to choose the movie and snacks is an awesome feeling!

9. Spirituality
Spirituality used to be associated with ghosts and the paranormal, and for some it still is. But I am talking about the connection you have with your soul. Being connected is so essential, for everyone. Perhaps, you already routinely participate in a religion. That’s great! But it doesn’t necessarily mean it is attending to all your spiritual needs. For some religion is their spirituality. They co-exist together. For others, they are deeply religious but they have separate rituals for their spiritual wellness. Still others only focus on their spirituality. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There can’t be, for it is literally your connection with your soul. No one else can dictate what that is or how it is achieved. Only you. I know that can be scary, but it is also so exciting. There’s so much to be gained. I truly feel if people were more connected, the world would be a far better place.

10. Give Yourself Permission
Whether you need to laugh like a maniac, or cry it all out. It is okay to feel. To let yourself feel the full height and depths of emotions. Especially if you’re carrying more than just your own. It is okay to shed a tear when comforting a distraught friend. It might even be the sign of strength and acceptance they need to let go and release it all. While you don’t want emotions to run your life, it doesn’t mean you’re trying to get rid of them. They’re a part of you. It is just a matter of learning to navigate this journey with them. Also, know that by feeling the deeply, you will be able to help others. As well as to know yourself deeper. And to truly experience the most essential aspect of what it means to be human.

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Social Media Isn’t All Bad

Ok, first off let’s all agree we’re tired of the BS online. I’d be happy to not see rudeness for the “lolz” or trolling horrific things. We’re all aware of the creeps, drama, and how most things are fake online. I acknowledge all of this. However, I bet you all of that existed somewhere else before the internet. Which is something that got me thinking, are we blaming the messenger?

See everyone blames social media for highlighting materialism or for making people narcissistic. It’s “corrupting” people this way or that way. But that’s like saying the holidays made me gain a few pounds, and hence holidays are the root of the issue! Rather than admitting weakness with self-control. The blame goes to the internet for creepinsss, when it’s humans using it to be perverse.

It’s not just a mirror, it’s a super magnified mirror for humanity. If you’ve ever been brave enough to look at your face in a 5x magnified mirror, you’ll know that nothing looks pretty that close up!

I bring this up because there’s always a very negative conversation going on about the internet and social media specifically. It’s a great escape goat to place blame on, or deem as evil to justify dismissing a topic people are uncomfortable with. That the internet “burnt” everyone out on a hot button issuse, so don’t talk about it anymore. Or best yet, let’s all of us scream “fake news” at each side of an issue. You then can walk away from it much easier. While there is fake news, this term is often more used to shut down conversations. Which won’t do anyone any good. It’s ok to say you don’t feel this conversation is getting anywhere, let’s agree to disagree and walk away. We don’t have to invalidate each other clinging to the desire to have everyone agree.

Yet the internet couldn’t exist without humans. It’s only highlighting issues we’ve been better able to hide in the past. It only gets in your face, or burns you out, if you’re spending a lot of time on the inter-webs. And there is the option to take a break from the internet. I know, not realistic long-term. At least not with the current direction of human development. But it’s still ok for a couple hours!

Yet, just like a magnified mirror, backing away can make the image so blurry you don’t see that suspicious mole, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. One day you’re going to have to address the issue. Having a chance to see it when it’s smaller, means it’s easier to address. We get annoyed at social issues blowing up, yet they only got that way because they went ignored too long. Building up until it bursts.

This new era of humanity can either be the catalyst that forces us to take a deeper look at things humanity needs to change, things we all have to work on. Or we can allow all of our inner demons to destroy us.

So, I may say that there is so much good going on in the world, yet where is it all online? Well, it doesn’t “sell” well. So, fear and negativity are pushed because that’s what spreads quickly and far. It’s preying on the whole concept of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The foundation of which is your basics, survival and security. Then moves up to family/relationships, and then on to self-esteem. I won’t go too far into that though. I think we’re all pretty aware of the potential for manipulation.

Plus, I’m no saint in all of this, as at times I too get sucked in. So, please don’t think I’m preaching to you. We all have work to do.

I’m just saying, don’t condemn technology for the evils of humanity. Instead look at it as an opportunity for growth. If something repels you so much, find a way to get involved and make changes. But do it respectfully. I see people get involved because the issue is so important, then they spit poison at anyone with a difference in opinion. That’s not helping.

Remember none of this is new and maybe that’s showing us we need to approach things differently. People have battled it out over important issues since the dawn of man. Corruption in power, and using that to manipulate others, has existed throughout the ages. It morphs to adapt to the different ages. Today it could be the media or government when ages ago it hid within a religion or dubbed itself royalty. Today it’s morphing to adapt to our world. Being more connected means we see it more, but that is good because corruption doesn’t function well when visible.

How We Can Shift the Paradigm

If you see a day where everything online is soul crushing misery, that destroys your faith in humanity. Find something positive to post. A quote, a photo of your goofy pet, or heck make a silly face selfie. It won’t change the internet, but it could boost those in your little section of it. Maybe it will spread. Or if you see it’s a day the internet is being used not to inform, but to just push negativity, then get off of it.

I don’t mean for your work or whatever you have to do. I mean the mindless scrolling through news, social media, etc. However, I also see so many people stressed about not being available 24/7. You miss a nonessential phone call or message at 4:55 pm and decide to wait until the next morning to reply. Yet that person has a straight up hissy fit that it took you “so long” to respond. Even calling back within an hour, I’ve had platonic social interactions that demand to know why I wasn’t by my phone when they decided to call me for an update, which was that they had no update. Seriously? I went to the bathroom, do I need permission? No.

I’ll age myself for a minute and say, we didn’t have cellphones when I was younger. Or they weren’t widely used. You generally had to wait a lot longer to get a return call. Sometimes days of playing tag with each other’s answering machines (aka antiquated voicemail). Somehow, the world did not implode. It’s ok to take a couple hours off the internet. It’ll be there when you get back.

My point being, the internet is molded by our interactions with it. Literally, look at how the ways we interact within the internet is evolving and shaping it. Brands notice trends and those in power see what holds influence. It’s changing society, we might as well get in on that possibility. There’s all of this opportunity to be involved in ways our ancestors never could have dreamed of. Jobs that never would’ve been an option. Or how you, yes you, that one person in this big world, have a higher chance of making something that could impact a massive amount of people. That’s power within your grasp. One that only multiplies when we connect and join together on a cause. And I firmly believe, that despite all the negative and work needing to be done, there’s an overwhelming amount of good in people. People who aren’t afraid evolve and work together. And that will prevail.

Let’s all learn to practice looking at it with a bit of objectivity so we can see if we’re being emotionally manipulated. Find ways to enjoy research, so we’re not just taking force feed facts. And being able to recognize if it’s something that hits us in the feels, it could be because it needs to be addressed. But please, let’s not forget to find time for adorable animal videos. Like this one, and a doggo for good measure! I won’t leave you with all that and no cute animals to wash it down!

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