: At age 44, I'm ending a two-year live-in relationship with a man. I've always felt that his energy is just too big for me. He seems to take up the whole house. I am becoming very clear in seeing that I am very sensitive to other people's energy. I've been told by energy workers that I take on other people's negative energy, which makes them feel good but leaves me weighted down and fatigued. I've battled mild chronic fatigue for years and can see how it's been the worst when I've been in draining relationships or job situations. I know I have intuitive capabilities, though they are not well developed. I'd like to be able to feel and identify energies--mine and others, so that I can differentiate between what's me and what's not me. I've always worked in social service work and am a giving person, so it is hard for me to hold back and not trust when my natural inclination is to be open and receptive. Right now, I'm really looking forward to being alone after he moves out and regaining a sense of my self separate from others. Any suggestions on how to be both sensitive and strong? Thanks.

A: I think that's such a critical question: how to be both sensitive and strong. I may not have the whole answer, but I think I might have some of it. And, as usual, it's fairly simple, but simple doesn't necessarily mean easy to execute! First, I would say that it isn't just a matter of not taking on other people's negative energy. Even if it's someone else's positive energy, if it's not your energy, you don't want to take that on either. You want to be filled up with your own energy!

The first order of business then is to stay in your own body! Get in there and stay in there, except for when you consciously decide to take an out-of-body hike (or during sleep, which is not the same as unknowingly drifting on up and out). The easiest way to stay in there, if you have a habit of leaving (and I bet you do) is to keep placing your attention on how it feels. How your feet feel meeting the ground; the sensation of your breath in your belly; the support your back or bottom feels from a chair; the space between your vertebrae as you breathe in and out; the loosening of an achy place as you breathe into it. This placement of your attentional focus on the inside of your body keeps your consciousness in it.

This is the strongest, most grounded, secure place for you to be. It's like ballast. Harder to tip you over when you're solidly in there. Harder not to be you because you're attuned to what you're feeling, needing, and experiencing from moment to moment. There's a whole school of thought that says even illness can't enter a fully inhabited body. It's already occupied. That may be overstating it, but it makes the point.

So let's say you train yourself to stay home in your body more and more, and to be aware of when you're out, so you can pop back in. But there are still times when somebody else's big, fat, fluffy field overwhelms you and squeezes you into a very small space.

What then?

Well, from the base of being home in your body, you can learn very simple ways to fluff up your own field. If you feel you've taken on too much gunk, use physical exercise or some sort of ritual (a bath, a walk in the night air, toning sounds, singing, prayer, dancing, consciously breathing with an image of cleansing and releasing) to return your own energy to yourself.

I like the image of being surrounded by a permeable but protective field of energy, one that dances with color and light, hums with my own coherent tune--lots of coherent frequencies and sounds dancing on my skin and all around it. All the love and sweetness, prayers and smiles, good wishes and gratitude, that has ever been sent my way is attached to it. This field insulates me from whatever I don't want or need, but allows in whatever is nourishing or needed. And I can pull it in tightly to me or open it up to fill a room if need be. I can make it denser or lighter with my intention. But, as you probably have noticed, I like imagery and use it easily and automatically. If you want a quick, mechanical way to fluff up your own field, get out in nature or sing in a chorus; practice tai chi or ride in your car with the top down, singing rock and roll at the top of your lungs. It doesn't always have to be some purely spiritual activity, but it does have to be you. And you can only know what that is by being home, in your body, aware of your own internal experience.

I hope this helps. As I said, it's simple but not necessarily easy, especially if you've spent a lot of time being "away." Good luck!

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