I write a lot about opening the heart, but there’s something crucial about protecting the heart, too. Our physical hearts are wrapped in a sheathe called the pericardium. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is known as the Heart Protector.
While we open our hearts, it’s equally important to protect ourselves from unwanted energies and forces. Who says we have to be open and receiving all the time? As a woman, I have learned over and over again that it is not wise to allow any and all energies into my body. To be in my center, I get to choose what comes in and what goes out.
Yesterday I was reminded of this lesson while meandering the streets of San Fransisco. I’m not really a “city girl,” but I can get down with the fast paced vibe for a few days. At some point while pretend dress shopping with a girlfriend, exhaustion suddenly set in. I no longer felt giddy and light hearted about the whole experience of make up counters and sparkly items that cost more than a month’s rent.
The disturbing reality of class divides in America hit me on the train out of the city. I looked around and saw that almost everyone was holding a smart phone in their hands, a young mother was asking for money, and a drunk man vomiting while mumbling words I couldn’t understand.
I took a deep breadth and felt my stomach turn. The nausea crept up to my throat. “Do not take it on, sweet one,” said a voice in my head. But, it was too late. The empathic healer that I am was filled to the brim with pain.
Could this be why so many people choose to numb out with alcohol, sugar, pain meds, opioids, weed, etc?
When I really looked around, I saw so much suffering. Yes, I know there is always beauty in each moment because there is no yin without yang, but inside the belly of the beast, my heart sunk. I now understand what “soul sucking” means.
How often do we take on energies that do not belong to us from others and our environments?
If we allow ourselves to truly feel the pain, rather than holding it inside, then what is possible?
What does having a strong heart protector mean?
When we are awake and choosing not to numb out, we have to feel it, otherwise it gets stuck. That night, instead of feeling it, I took a hot shower and got dressed to go out to dinner with friends, hoping to smooth over this deep dark grief creeping into my lungs.
Nope, I was wrong. The moment I got into the car, I became “sick to my stomach.” I asked my friends to bring me back so I could rest. Whatever I had absorbed that day was ready to come out. The nausea built up to my throat and I began to salivate.
In the moment, all I could think about was how to get well. Looking back, I can analyze it through a Chinese Medicine lens:
- Chills entered the back of my neck – External Pernicious Influence (Wind)
- Nausea and stomach fire rising – Rebellious Stomach Qi (Fire Rising)
- Fast Heart Rate / Shortness of Breadth – Unfelt Grief (Heart- Lung Qi Protector)
I asked Spirit to guide me in releasing what was inside and not mine to hold. I tried to vomit, but nothing came. Instead, I found my finger pressing into a Heart Point near the wrist. It’s the same point that AirBands press, which are worn during travel for those who have motion sickness. These things rock, by the way! I wear them while flying and boating.
Within seconds, I felt my stomach Qi fire travel downward, which caused me to have to pee because the stomach controls fluids. I’d so much rather pee than vomit any day, phew!
I crawled into bed with a hot water bottle, wool blankets and ginger tea to Release the Exterior, or sweat it out. When something comes inside, before it gets too far, let it out through the skin. Bundled with the hot water bottle on the back of my neck and AirBands pressed into my heart (Shen Gate) point, I felt my spirit come home.
When my energy came back, I burned sage and palo santo to dispel any lingering unwanted spirits. I heard the voice from Spirit,
“You are an empathic being, and you must to protect yourself. Grieve and feel the despair of the world, let it move through, do not harbor it inside your body. It is not yours to hold onto anymore, it never was to begin with. Fill yourself back up with love and light, Sweet One. Have compassion for all beings, including yourself. It will not serve you or anyone if you take on what’s not yours.”
The various ways we take on pain manifests differently for each of us.
What happens for you when you take on energy that’s not yours?
How does it manifest in your body?
How do you protect yourself from energies that do not serve you?
What do these experiences teach you?
How do you balance loving compassion with taking on energy that’s not yours to hold?
What practices do you turn to for dispelling what’s not serving you?
A few tools I use for dispelling unwanted energies that I pick up from time to time:
- yarrow flower essence for maintaining healthy boundaries
- burning sage, palo santo, mugwort
- a good cry
- rage work (see previous blog post)
- sweat it out with a hike
- balance my attention by spending time in nature’s beauty
- hot bath with epson salts
- lemon water
- connect with a friend to share what’s on my heart
- activation statement: “command by body and being to release all that’s not mine and gift it back to the light of consciousness!”
There is a mountain of healing needed on this planet, so remember to protect your heart in the process and release the grief as it arises so you can show up more fully, in service to the Heart of the World.