It’s cool this morning up here in Ventura and I am grateful to have the morning to myself. I’ve been pretty absent from journaling the last few weeks as I am going through several huge transitions. I haven’t really known how to share about them here. I’ve also been so committed to writing for other websites that by the time I sit down to post on the blog I have no energy for it.
As some of you know at the beginning of this year I turned down my first book deal. It was a decision I have zero regrets about because in my heart it wasn’t the book I wanted to write. Once I let that go some amazing writing opportunities came my way and I jumped at the chance to widen my audience and share my passion for holistic living. Being hired to write informational wellness articles has been such a great experience and I am truly grateful for it. As the year starts to wind down and I narrow in on what direction I want to focus on during 2016, it’s clear I need to let go of spending so much energy writing for other websites and get back to pouring my heart into this blog. While a tiny part of me is afraid to let go of these opportunities, I recognize that on a deeper level I am committing to the writing practice that lights me up and that feels right.
When this year began the word I chose to embody was EASE. In some ways it feels like some kind of cosmic joke because 2015 was one of the most challenging and painful years I have had in a long time. It was also one of the most transformative years. I have cleared lifetimes of karma and healed some of the darkest wounds in my past. 2014 was all about laying the groundwork that gave me the foundation I needed to shake things up they way I have this year. While there wasn’t anything easy about this year, I have learned to lean into the hard times and stay present and kind through them which is a really big deal.
Much of my life I’ve had two operating modes when it comes to conflict in intimate relationships with my family and partners. I either soak up everyone’s energy like a boundary-less sponge or totally check out and shut down. These last couple of months I am learning (yet again) that there IS a middle ground where I can set a boundary for myself and stay present with what is happening.
Jason and I hit a huge wall a couple of months ago. I was so unhappy in our relationship and I couldn’t see any future together. We were exhausted. Since getting back into couples therapy it felt like everything was crumbling faster than we could scramble to save it. We were sinking so fast and neither one of us had the energy or desire to jump in and try to save the relationship. It’s such a painful feeling to sit across from the person you love and feel how much distance has come between you and not have the will to reach out and try and save them from drowning.
What I have learned about myself in the last couple of months is that I have some more healing to do around my relationships with my parents and that it is imperative that I set boundaries to stop taking on Jason’s energy. On the one hand this is such basic relationship 101 work but on the other hand it’s coming through so clearly and painfully because it’s my last lesson. I’ve done loads inner healing on setting boundaries over the last 14 years and this huge lesson is cycling its way out of my life. It’s as if the light is right in front of me but those older energies are so strong they pull me down every chance they get.
Have you ever cycled through a big lesson in your life? For ages I thought that you just circled back through lessons until the end of time, but the truth is you can break the patterns and learn the lessons! If there are areas in your life where you keep coming back to, wow how did I end up here again?, there is something you aren’t getting. Until you uncover what the deeper teaching is you will keep repeating the cycle.
In yogic philosophy these repetitive lessons are often referred to as samskara, our patterned conditioning. It is believed that we are born with our emotional impressions or karmic inheritance, samskara, and they can be positive or negative. Each time we repeat a samskara it is reinforced. Unconsciously repeating negative samskaras slows down personal growth and development. The more awareness you cultivate, the easier it is to recognize the patterns and change them.
This philosophy really resonates with me. I believe that we are born into the world with certain energies and patterns. Part of our journey is to shift them so that we can be examples of light and joy to the people in our lives. As a teacher and healer I know I have to continue to do the work of releasing patterns that no longer serve me and set an example to others. In order to carry a potent message forward you have to heal yourself first.
Setting boundaries is about taking care of yourself and standing in your power. If you’re an empath like I am chances are you have taken on other people’s energy and had times in your life where you confused the absence boundaries with love. When you can’t tell the difference between your partner’s sadness and your sadness you are not fully living your own life.
While I knew what were my emotions and what were Jason’s, I still subconsciously took on his energy. He has a few behaviors that are exactly like my Dad’s (big surprise right?!). Without being specific about it to be respectful of Jason’s privacy, the basic picture is that when Jason behaves in a certain way I go right back to being a child feeling like I have to change in order to make him (aka my Dad) happy. In those moments I am totally boundary-less and once my mind is attached to past experiences, it’s impossible to navigate the present moment. Interestingly, once I am in that past state Jason gets triggered and we end up in this loop where neither one of us is present. In the cycle we act/behave/communicate from the part of our past that needs the other person to give us what we didn’t get from our parents growing up.
This is classic couples psychology. We’ve been bringing up each others messy stuff and thankfully getting super clear on how to move forward with it. I won’t speak to what Jason’s work is, but mine has been to work on my boundaries. The only way for me to grow in this practice is to stay aware in each moment no matter how uncomfortable it is. As I mentioned earlier, this is so obvious to me now because this lesson is working its way out of my life. Often times towards the end of a samskara cycle the lesson is so polarizing and vivid to make sure that we are getting it. It takes a great deal of discipline to keep my heart open through all of this work. No matter what happens with Jason and I, I am coming through these changes grounded in my power and ability to separate myself from the behaviors of those closest to me without separating myself from them as humans.
Setting boundaries isn’t about throwing up walls and creating cold and calculated distance. This practice is about learning to give yourself the space you need in each moment to stand tall and love the people in your life exactly as they are. Setting boundaries is about knowing your limits, asking for what you need and taking a moment of pause before reacting. Through the integration process of actively setting loads of boundaries in my relationship I am much happier than I have been in a long time. The path to healing is unfolding very quickly because I am not absorbing energy that isn’t mine.
Learning to set boundaries is an essential life skill that you must master if you want to travel lighter and be of service in this world. Now, more than ever we need teachers and guides that are doing this important work of clearing their samskaras to light the way for others.
Lots of love.
image by Marielle Chua