“Empathy minus boundaries is not empathy. Compassion minus boundaries is not genuine. Vulnerability without boundaries is not vulnerability.” ~ Brene Brown
The safest and most powerful place you can be is firmly ensconced in your body focused on the moment at hand, present in both time and space. This is your point of power. Unfortunately, most of us go through life with our attention – and thus our energy – hemorrhaging out of us in the form of anxiety about the past or the future. We relive old nightmares and anticipate new pain, both of which create a state of distress in our bodies about which we can do nothing. We have no agency with the past and no control of the future. All we accomplish by this projection of our attention is to rob ourselves of what we need in the present moment to live our lives.
When we are dissociated and our attention is elsewhere, the body becomes alarmed, like looking up and seeing that nobody is at the wheel of the bus, but the bus is still in motion. This generates even more anxiety which further fuels the sense of powerlessness and prompts the system to send out more tendrils of attention to other places and times. It’s like we’re looking for ourselves everywhere but where we should be, at home in our bodies in the present moment.
So one of the fastest ways to calm down is to notice the sensations in the body, which rehomes our attention back where it belongs. The simple act of feeling your breath lets your body know that you are where you should be, listening to the messages the body is always sending that keep you safe and informed. The more time you spend attending to this stream of information and not the channels of memory and worry, the calmer and more grounded you become.
A lifetime of being overextended energetically causes us to deplete our own tissues of life force in search of more fuel for our day-to-day needs. This is how we get sick. Once we bring our attention back into our bodies and stem the outlay of energy, we stop funding remembered or imagined scenarios. Over time, our reserves come back up and we have the resources we need to be effective and powerful in our lives.
It is only from this place of power that we can honestly experience empathy and compassion without the need to control or manipulate anyone else’s state. When we are not grounded, we make other people responsible for how we feel, and all of our behavior towards them is tainted by this conditional need. When we are grounded and present we can allow them to be who and what they are without fear that it will destabilize us in any way. We can then afford to be vulnerable and honest about how we feel and what we need.
So again, boundaries are not about establishing a tough membrane, a false front that keeps us separate. The truth is that we are none of us separate, yet paradoxically each one of us is unique and discrete with an integument created by our presence that keeps us defined and safe. A boundary is not an external structure, but a field, an emanation that connects us to the ultimate ground of being and activates a field around us with the unassailable truth of who and what we are. We just need to step into it.
The more time you spend focusing your attention on the origin point four finger widths below your navel, breathing all your stray selves back home, the more energized this field becomes. As your reserves come back up, try imagining that your lower three chakras are almost closed, maybe about two or three percent open, in order to contain and save that energy for your personal use. With this as your base of power, the upper chakras can open and be available to love and share with the world without condition or agenda.