The empath’s path to worthiness means finding inner strength and support through intuitive movement. Here’s how to get there.
Adrienne spent much of her life feeling a little out of place and a lot overstimulated. Her sensitivities were often treated as and seemed like weaknesses – her mother didn’t have the tools to nurture her empathic spirit. Dad was more inclined to choose booze over his daughter and left when she was 2. He came back from time to time but missed many years and most of her birthdays. She was inadvertently taught that home was unstable, feelings needed to be swallowed and intuition doubted. Connecting with a true sense of self was a foreign concept in her family. She grew up to be an adult who felt generally stuck and overall, like “too much.”
She found it almost impossible to be nice to herself. She often made unhealthy decisions and was constantly seeking outside validation. Her body was unfamiliar territory. She was disconnected and convinced it didn’t belong to her — it never did enough, never looked right, never felt good. Who could love her this way? She wasn’t sure she even loved, her.
At 31, Adrienne found herself in the same tired patterns. Although on the surface the situations may have appeared different, they were not. Same stories: broke and exhausted while working a full-time job she hated, trying to rescue someone from themselves and/or struggling with health issues mild to severe.
Adrienne is an empath and, although she didn’t necessarily understand what that meant or how deeply it has affected her, she felt it on every level. When we first started working together she was depressed, feeling isolated, misunderstood, hopeless even. A wave of relief washed over her when I started to speak about the common traits of an empath. She nodded enthusiastically and seemed quite relieved to know she was not alone.
Most deeply sensitive beings can identify with her on some level. We all crave community. We all want to be seen. My work has revealed that despite our vastly different circumstances, a healthy connection to self on a soul level is a core issue for many. All humans, especially empaths, need to explore and nourish themselves. It can all feel a bit daunting, standing at the foot of a big emotional mountain, unsure of the path forward. That is why we have guides, practices, support systems. If we do the inner work and go in search of answers, no matter what that looks like, eventually we are going to find answers. We will get to the root(s), we will collide head-on with our deepest fears and have no choice but to either acknowledge and release our trauma or to stay and repeat.
So, how can we treat ourselves with more care?
How can we trust our gut and follow our hearts?
How do we learn to give / receive love freely and safely?
How can we get to know ourselves on a level in which simply being attracts people, places and things of the highest vibration?
We move. We have to move physically, emotionally and energetically through our experiences in this life. Here are a few practices to help serve you in this space:
Connect with your belly.
Your gut is your second brain, and even it has its very own nervous system. The belly is inherently sensitive and thrives when nourished on all levels. It is the home of palpable intuition, butterflies, bloating, vulnerability, fire. Because it tends to our sensitivities and our wounds, the gut is absolutely crucial to navigating this existence.
Practice: Place your hands gently on your belly. Most of us avoid this space at all costs. When and if we visit, it is usually to criticize. Keep your left hand on your belly and move your right hand to your heart. Now close your eyes. Try to lengthen your inhales and exhales here, a count of four in through the nose – a count of four out through the mouth. Try starting a gentle dialogue, say thank you for all that you carry, process, receive and release. Notice the tone of your inner voice — are you speaking kindly to yourself? Do you hear or feel anything? Try and soften a bit. Receive. Breathing into your belly is a simple yet effective way to connect with your center.
Make room for joy.
Releasing energy/emotional buildup in the physical and energetic body helps create space and is vital for overall health and wellbeing. Finding small moments of joy each day will strengthen your spirit and give you an opportunity to know your truest nature, if even just for 5 minutes. If this is uncomfortable, that is OK! Do it anyway.
Practice: I like to practice breath of joy before dancing. Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, inhale sharply through the nose. Reach arms overhead, inhale sharply through the nose, arms extend out (parallel to the ground). Inhale sharply through the nose, arms overhead again, and exhale with “HA” loudly through the mouth as you hinge at the hips and let your torso fold over the legs. Repeat for 15 – 20 rounds and pick up the pace to increase your heart rate. Let it go after a few moments, just hanging over your legs in a forward fold. Let yourself feel and breathe – take a beat. When you’re ready, slowly roll up to stand. Turn on some of your favorite music, dance around with no worries as to what it looks like – just feel. Closing the eyes is a great way to focus on intuitive movement. No ego here!
Say Yes to what moves you and No to what drains you.
The answer isn’t in a book or a podcast – your therapist doesn’t have them and neither do your parents. Of course, we rely on seasoned guides to open our eyes and hearts — a healthy, stable support system is tremendously helpful. But you are your greatest healer. What makes one of us feel happy and whole will not resonate with another – it is imperative to practice saying yes to what moves you and no to what drains you. This does not mean we coast through life with reckless abandon and no regard for other feelings, but we must practice choosing ourselves first as often as possible.
Practice: Try to take non-judgmental inventory of how you feel physically and energetically as you move through your day. A simple question of, how did that make me feel? Where is it living? Do you feel a pit in your stomach when a certain person calls? Perhaps the body is sending a signal that stepping back or not answering will better serve you. How about work? If you feel constantly drained of your resources, disconnected, foggy or insecure – perhaps it’s a good time to reevaluate…
It is very difficult to say “No” as a complete sentence. “No, sorry” is different than “No.” Making empowered choices helps to build core strength and allows us to move more confidently through life. It is Ok to politely decline if something doesn’t feel good to you or you simply need rest. Making decisions out of fear will only call in more fear. Having healthy boundaries and loving yourself may make other people uncomfortable at times. On the flip side, try saying “YES! Hell, yes” in fact, to the things that make you uncomfortable and wouldn’t normally fit within the picture-perfect, good-on-paper “plan” you’ve envisioned. These are the things that undeniably spark excitement and joy in your heart — the things that often live on the other side of fear.
Artwork by Mitchell Hoffmaster.