Oh us sensitive hearts. We try so much to understand, connect, care and be aware. We want to be a compassionate presence in the world, yet we live in a world that has a lot of issues that can be heartbreaking, to say the least.
Finding a balance of staying informed about the real suffering in the world while not becoming debilitated is a challenging one.
This is especially true during this time of crisis where we are hearing many heart-wrenching news stories.
As Highly Sensitive People and Empaths, our nervous systems and brains can only handle so much before we become entirely overwhelmed.
Below are a few tips I’ve come up with in order to help me not fall into the pit of despair. I hope they help you, too…
Limit your time for scrolling on social media or accessing the news to 15 minutes at a time. This way you won’t inundate yourself with too much.
See if you can find 2 or 3 reliable news sources that you trust. Having a place where you feel safety, trust and stability is important.
Be sure you feel strong before you engage with the world’s problems. Try to avoid first thing in the morning or late at night as your resources are depleted and your guard is down.
Notice the stories that really affect you. Chances are these are issues that are part of your path of social change and impact or are there to help you heal your own trauma. If it triggers you too much, be sure to take a step back and go for a walk or listen to some enjoyable music.
Ask yourself what emotions does this bring up in you? E.g. anger, sadness, frustration, confusion, shock…
Become clear about your throughts and feelings. Journal, talk to a friend, share your thoughts or opinions in a place where you feel safe.
Find creative ways to express yourself — write a poem, an op ed piece, draw your feelings, dance it out, or start a project.
If the issue is very personal and is stirring up a lot, seek out a counsellor or therapist to process your feelings.
See if you can stay focused on one or two major issues or news stories, most likely the ones that really move you. Find ways to make change in small or big ways. It could be reading out the issue more in-depth, watching movies or documentaries, joining a group of concerned citizens, going to a protest, participating in initiatives in your community, etc.
Be sure you also have time to enjoy life, have fun and take time to do what you love.
Keep a good news journal — listing 3 touching things that you heard about or saw in your day.
Fill up on good news stories, as well. They are out there and we need to remember that there are wonderful and caring people in this world, too. You are one of them!
A series of personal experiences and insights that show there is more to life than meets the eye. Heather shares her personal journey in becoming a medium as well as the funny and undeniable experiences with Spirit and those who have passed on. It also includes an encounter with Abe Lincoln!
Tomorrow — Friday May 22nd — is the New Moon in Gemini. Venus is also retrograde.
In a New Moon, the darkest phase of the cycle, we are called to go within to look at our own inner world. It is not a time of action, but a time of contemplation and setting intentions. We are moving into the Sun Sign of the month. So at the New Moon phase it is a powerful time to connect to the conscious and subconscious aspects of ourselves, using the dominant feature of the sign — this month being Gemini.
Gemini is the sign of the mind and intellect. Venus is the sign of love and the emotions–in retrograde it is about the heartache, rejections, or unexpressed grief in love.
This means that the old wounds about love and intimacy that we have — the places where our core hurts live — may come to surface. We have the chance to see the dis-empowering stories we have about ourselves, the mind chatter that is dominating our inner landscape. This means we may see ourselves as unlovable, undesirable, alone forever. We may see our love addiction so clearly during this time, and the amount of energy we’ve wasted with some friendships or love interests. We will need to discern what is fantasy versus what is reality.
Right in the middle of isolation. Fun, right?
When you get really honest with yourself about what is and isn’t working, and what it is you do or don’t need with your nearest and dearest, you have a chance to actually manifest grounded relationships that can honour you and the other from a place of integrity, respect and reality. In this new moon, you can transform the shadow and see yourself in a whole new light — you can see the inner strength you’ve had to survive. Or you can feel released of old guilt and shame and see how far you’ve come in self-respect. You can make new intentions for the kinds of people and dynamics you need to feel loved, supported and appreciated.
So use this powerful time today, tomorrow and Saturday to sit with yourself — journal your thoughts maybe — about love, past relationships or your current relationships.
You can ask yourself questions like:
How do I really feel about this person?
What am I believing about myself regarding this relationship?
What do I need to feel more satisfied and peaceful?
Am I being realistic about this person? What may I not be seeing about them?
What are my 3 biggest needs I have to feel loved and cared about? Who do I feel is available to help me get these needs met?
And of course, you know yourself best so can come up with any other questions that may match what you are going through right now.
Today — May 20th – is the day Yale opens the second round of this free online course. We could all use a dose of happiness in our lives during this time. Here’s a blurb from an article on the Global News site.
“Yale University is offering people a reprieve from the existential dread of the coronavirus pandemic: free online access to its most popular course, “The science of well-being.”
The course helps students engage in challenges that are designed to increase happiness and build more productive habits, the description says.”
“Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change,” it reads. “You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.”
“A practical, step-by-step, 12-week interactive program that teaches you how to develop the intuitive sense that lies within you and to live in accordance with the soul’s purpose by discovering your center of spiritual power. The Psychic Pathway refines intuition into a life-enhancing tool that can be used every day.”
This week’s card is from the Queen of the Moon Oracle Card Deck by Stacey Demarco.
It is the Sovereignty card which means knowing your benevolent personal power. It is all about the fact that in all situations you have power and influence and it is about shifting negative situations into ones of love, kindness and possibilities.
An interesting card as we move through feeling restricted and unsure of what’s ahead. It all starts within and it starts with you.
What healthier choices do you need to make for your life? What ways can you be a positive impact in your home, online, or in your community?
If you haven’t yet, join the Sanctuary for Sensitive Hearts Facebook Group to join our Re-charge Your Heart Sunday evening calls for free to stay aligned and in tune so you can come through this time with greater spiritual strength and deeper commitment.
In my mid 20s, I decided to backpack across Mexico with my partner at the time. I knew very basic Spanish and figured that Mexico would be the best place to go in Latin America as it was used to English-speaking tourists.
We travelled by bus from Cancun, across the country to the Pacific Coast and finally out of Mexico City. Partway through the trip we ended up in a place called Oaxaca City, a haven for all types of artists and cultural tourists. I felt more at home in Oaxaca City than anywhere I had lived in Canada – it fed my poetic nature. Cobblestone streets, 13 Indigenous Tribes that still practiced their pre-colonial lifestyle of 2,000 years ago, and the birthplace of Benito Juarez, the first Indigenous President who fought for democracy and education, were all part of Oaxaca’s essence. I fell in love with the place. Even among Mexicans, it is known as a profound and magical spot, where things appear to move slow but there is so much going on under the surface. Even though it is one of the poorest States in the country, it is soul rich.
When we had to move to our next destination, I made an oath to myself that I would return one day.
Fast forward to Toronto a couple of years later. My partner and I separated. I was working as a temp for the Government. I really couldn’t see myself growing old in Toronto by working at a desk job. I had to make a change but I didn’t know what or how.
Oaxaca called to me, as if through the ethers. I knew I had to go back there if anything but to find my soul. I trusted that Divine guidance would help me make it happen. Sure enough, I met someone in Canada who traveled between Oaxaca and Toronto for business reasons. He hooked up a place for me to live and reassured me that I would be just fine. His advice to me was to memorize three Spanish poems by heart and I would learn Spanish within 2 months. Which actually worked.
I packed all my belongings up, filled my backpack, and planned to live in Oaxaca City for 5.5 months, if not longer.
I also changed the name I went by to Isabel, because Heather is not easy to pronounce in Spanish.
It was a scary, lonely and soul-delving journey as I had to navigate cultural differences, homesickness, learning a new language and being a single woman in a foreign country where Violence Against Women is a huge social problem. Also, a major political revolution broke out – the biggest one in its history – where there were mass protests of thousands of people and cops with tear gas. Buses were being lit on fire, and people were carrying weapons of all kinds.
Sticking out like a sore thumb with very little community support, I had to rely on my instincts and follow my inner compass. Meditation and a traveller’s curious mind were the attitudes that sustained me.
On one particularly difficult day, where I was questioning everything I was basing my trip on, I saw a man doing a Hail Mary in front of the Catholic Church only to turn around and whistle at me with a cat call. The sexual harassment and hypocrisy of religion there was really getting under my skin. I wondered why this Divine Force had led me to Oaxaca City. Was I following all the wrong guidance? I felt abandoned and lost, unsure of what the hell I was doing there.
As the City I loved was being destroyed because of the growing injustices against its citizens, I was standing there questioning the major life dilemmas like: “Why me? Why was I born in Canada with relative stability while Mexicans had to endure so much hardship? Why was I inspired by art, simple living and personal relationships while others were focused on more violent pursuits?
I wanted to fall on my knees and give up. I couldn’t make any sense or meaning of myself or my life and the pain that humanity was in. Then I looked over at the outside orange wall of the art library where I spent a lot of my time. On it was a graffiti message that said “Estoy Contigo, Isabel”, which translated means: “I am with you, Isabel.” There wasn’t any other graffiti on the wall. In fact, this wall was usually quite clean. Why would someone write such a message? “I am with you, Isabel.” The only explanation I had was that it was a sign from the Divine.
Stunned, I faced forward towards the Santo Domingo Church. There are locked gates to keep random people from entering. Wouldn’t you know, I saw a Black man wearing traditional African garb (which was highly uncommon in this part of Mexico) walking through the gate. He looked at me, smiled, then winked. His gaze was penetrating, as if comforting me and telling me that there is a whole other reality that most aren’t aware of, that exists beyond the logical mind. As Mexicans would say: “Todo es una illusion” or “Everything is an illusion.” Part of me wondered if I had indeed lost my mind and went into a delusional state from all the stress. The other part of me knew that these mysterious coincidences were very real.
I started laughing at myself and my anxieties. I immediately relaxed and opened up to being guided by unknown forces. And wouldn’t you know, the rest of the trip went as smooth as ever, aside from the uprisings. As if by magic, in 5 short months, I managed to have an art exhibit at a café, I met a wonderful art teacher who brought out my expressionistic side, and I learned Spanish to the point where I was dreaming about it. By following kindness, beauty and a sense of peace, doors opened in ways I never would have expected.
At the end of my trip, I decided to return to Canada. I couldn’t settle in Oaxaca as a single woman amidst so much political unrest. I also had my own emotional healing to do with my family back home. So, I caught the last bus to Mexico City before the military closed everything down. I prayed to Oaxaca’s well-loved Patron Saint Guadalupe, asking that I sit next to a decent person as I didn’t have the energy to ward off harassment.
As I settled in, an elderly man wearing a simple white-pressed cotton dress shirt sat next to me. He asked me what brought me to Oaxaca. I explained that I was on a spiritual journey and have had all these amazing and strange interactions since I opened up to the Divine. The man smiled with satisfaction and looked at me with a glint in his eye. He knew we were meant to meet. He handed me his business card that said: “El Templo Del Espiritu” (The Temple of the Spirit). Underneath his name it said: “Spirit Guide”. I just shook my head with acknowledgment of the mysteriousness of Oaxaca.
I looked at him and said: “For real? You’re a Spirit Guide?”
“Well you’re the perfect person to sit next to me to finish my travels in Mexico,” I laughed.
“Gracias a Dios,” we both said at the same time, the common Spanish Catholic term for giving thanks to God.
I knew why I was pulled to Mexico and Oaxaca–to give me a sense of greater faith even in the face of danger and extreme poverty. I was to understand privilege in a very real way, and to expand my understanding of the spiritual realms beyond all the divisions and suffering. I truly came to believe that we are part of a bigger fabric and movement of life.
From travelling with an open heart and mind, I realized that every person we meet comes from the Divine whether they are aware of it or not. You just never know who’s been hired to be your Spirit Guide and what roads will open up.
Yesterday we had our first online “One Step Forward” Constellations gathering. Using an online tool can seem flat for some, but it was quite interesting how the work still brought the depth of awareness that in-person gatherings offer.
In one of the pieces, we looked at anxiety and how it passes down through the generations, especially in how we relate with it in our personality. One of the major lessons is to learn how to talk about the anxiety, rather than just living with it in silence.–because silence keeps the trauma alive. Once we can be honest with our cares, fears and concerns, and connect with others who we share a common experience with (such as our work colleagues), we fundamentally feel supported which leads to a greater sense of meaning and peace. Reaching out to others who we feel comfortable with and those who get your concerns, is one of the greatest remedies to feeling isolated and alone. Which is why we are seeing so many online communities sprouting up during this time. We feel safer in numbers.
As we are facing our own collective crisis, we can turn to face our ancestors who had anxieties in the past about their livelihoods when the world and their society changed due to unforeseen circumstances. We see those who were traumatized by losing the things they loved and poured their souls into where they had to adjust to the demands of the times. We see the ones who came together in their respective communities to share their concerns and to find creative solutions. And we hold the ones who kept what they loved in their hearts and found a way to express it and make it work. As we all look to our own place in this changing world, let us honour what our own ancestors had to go through, draw on their wisdom for us and access the support in our respective communities that can bring us together and guide the way forward to a different world.
I will share with you my own experience with my ancestors, in order to help you access your own experience with yours.
When I tuned into my ancestors, I felt gifted by a strong body and saw the inheritance of health that I’ve been given and will continue to care about. I also saw the skill of the housewives in my lineage who are giving me cleaning tips and lessons on how to stay well and nourished during this time. The men were the ones who carried the stress of the world as they felt the need to protect the nation — through them I can understand how many leaders, policymakers, workers and healthcare providers in the world are working overtime to keep our nation peaceful and safe. It helps me understand some of their basic needs to feel acknowledged and held.
I was also curious about my ancestors’ relationship to the Spanish Flu — an epidemic I knew nothing about before all this went down. It turned out that the only story was about my grandfather showing up to school each day and noticing that kids were missing because they died. The kids were usually from homes without heat or nourishing food. On both sides of the family, I’m aware that I came from families who had a certain amount of privilege to survive. I’m also aware that we have had long roots here and my ancestors and the settlers in Canada would have been responsible for the epidemic of disease that was spread to First Nations Peoples. In order to not repeat the past, I hold space, advocacy and care to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself as we are seeing First Nations Communities being underfunded during this time.
Do you have any stories of your ancestors? What have they overcome? Do you have a sense of what you have inherited that keeps you strong in this time? What advice would they have for you? I would love to hear about it!
If you would like to join me at the next online Constellations to explore how you can release some core wounds and patterns, then send me an email to: email@example.com
“Silence and solitude – the soul’s best friends” – Mother Theresa
In all spiritual traditions, there is an important practice of being in solitude. It is a chance to commune with the divine and restore the soul.
Our modern and busy lives, plus our minds that love to be distracted by the latest meme, video, tv show or song, have made the gift of silence something foreign to us and perhaps even something to be feared.
With this pandemic, where we are forced to be inside, either on our own or with family members, we are having to face this dreaded state known as boredom or feeling stir crazy.
It reminds me of when I did a 10-day Vipassana Silent Meditation retreat. We had to be in silent meditation all day long, without reading material, journals or human interaction for 10 days straight. The only reprieve was sharing meals in groups, though we still had to keep to the code of silence. The first 3 days I was restless, angsty, feeling lonely and aching. I really wondered if I would keep my sanity. As I continued practicing in self-discipline, I learned how to settle into what felt uncomfortable. I knew that the state would pass, I would be okay and there was a reason to all of this. And there was. I was having the deepest sleeps and most profound dreams. I had fascinating spiritual experiences. I really heard the sounds of nature, as if for the first time. I stopped being so self-centred and opened up energetically and mindfully to something far more beautiful — life itself.
By Day 4, 5 & 6, I was settling in so well. I absolutely loved the quiet and the calm that was coming in. I couldn’t imagine going back to every day life of superficial conversations and relating in the delusions of the world. Day 10 came far too quickly in my opinion.
At that retreat, I got a taste of what it was like to be a monk or a nun and discovered the much neglected part of myself– the depth of inner peace. As we are facing this social call to isolate, I am reminded of those days of silence and “nothingness”.
I believe that much of this experience is part of our global awakening, calling us to stop and listen to ourselves and life itself so we can open up to the preciousness of the many things we take for granted — whether it is in the modern or natural world. Many of us have this divine opportunity to be with something unfamiliar and find the sacred. We get a chance to really examine how dysfunctional our lives, society and the economy are structured. We won’t really know what is ahead for ourselves and our lives. But that’s the point. We are called to be present and responsive to what is and what life wants of us right now. As we take a big time out to contemplate what really matters to us individually and collectively, we have a chance to make real change after this ends.
Try, if you can, to sit and be without distraction at least for 30 minutes or more a day. It will feel uncomfortable, maybe even anxiety-ridden. But this too shall pass and you will come through it as a changed person — more of what your soul has been yearning for you to be. Trust me, the world, the earth and you will thank you for it.