WeimQiFor me, boundaries have always been my “weakest link”. I used to think that setting a boundary meant I had to create a barrier that would isolate me from other people, which was not something I ever wanted. As an empath, I value connection, compassion and love. But how I acted that out was by merging with others and losing myself in the process. Then I would end up feeling depleted and drained.

When you don’t have boundaries, you end up either having so much empathy for another that you lose touch with your own wisdom, as I did. Alternately you might erect barriers to “protect your space,” or ”take care of yourself” and end up being isolated or disconnected. This is the burden of the “lone wolf” or the “I am a rock, I am an island” mentality — also draining and maybe a little depressing.

Over my years of practice with energetic and martial arts, I discovered that in very concrete and literal ways, healthy boundaries are actually a key to true intimacy and connection —whether in personal close relationships or in work or business contexts.  When those boundaries are clear, clean and energetic, you can truly connect with others in authentic ways. Then true synergy kicks in with an enormous amount of vitality — the kind of empowerment that gets you up and out to do the things you know you are meant to do in your life.

Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness Program, is a teacher, speaker and performing artist. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of JoyCD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.