Is that you or is that me?

Historically it has been difficult for me to remain calm when others are being emotional. Like an absorbing mirror I breathe their emotion in.  Always categorized as extremely sensitive, it wasn’t until my late 20s that I realized my mood was transient because I was constantly absorbing other people’s feelings. My personal boundaries were so blurred that I didn’t realize where I ended and others began.

My energetic awareness shifted one day waiting for the ATM in a line that was two people deep. I went from feeling happy and light to being pissed. It was a heady enough shift that I stopped and asked myself: “where is this emotion coming from.” It was then I realized the line had grown and was full of agitated people.
Without a doubt, my willingness to make inquiry was rooted in my time on the mat.   Since then I tune in when I feel myself shift and I ask: “Is this really my emotion or is it theirs?” That question and the awareness to ask it changed my life and set me on a path of energetic exploration.
 Sunrise at the Healing House
I first began to share the energetic toolkit that I developed as a presentation in Charm City Yoga’s teacher training about four years ago.  In it we discussed mirror neurons, the idea of a professional persona, the need for grounding through presence, protection through appropriate boundaries, and the awareness and willingness to release.  I have made this presentation numerous times and its content has grown into a three-day retreat that I offer once a year.  
During my most recent presentation on the topic the tools I hold out to others were thoroughly put to the test. Although students are often opinionated about my work, one student had a very intense reaction to my presentation and told me so for several minutes. Standing there, with thirty people looking to me, I took a deep breath, I became aware of my feet to ground myself rocking forward and back, I fluffed the energy around myself increasing my boundary, I reminded myself that the emotion coming at me was not my own, and I waited patiently for the student to finish their thought. Then I moved on.
To say I couldn’t have done that ten years ago is an understatement.   My default is reactivity and over reaction, but through my practice of intention, awareness, and presence, I did not rise.  My fingers are crossed that the attendees realize that my non-reaction was only possible because I was actively practicing the techniques I was expounding upon. My hope is that it will inspire them to explore energetic techniques and find the tools that work best for them.