For 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.
I don’t know about you, but I think this time of year is complex. Invitations pour in to be “out, about, and social” while, at the same time, the days are shorter and the Natural World is reminding us that this is a time for conservation, hibernation and retreat.
One of the ways I ride these contradictions as the holiday season catapults us towards the end of the year is a qigong form called the Crystal Generator, which is a featured practice I offer annually at my Nourish the Flame event. Although I can’t offer the whole thing here, I think if you take about 3 minutes to try out this excerpt, you may find, as I do, that it will become a key sustaining tool to thrive through the season.
“I believe every time we make a fundamental shift of consciousness that opens a circle into a spiral, we face a kind of death. Sensing this impending death, we move through a period of fear, facing our demons. Like gargoyles, these demons are the protectors of the gates of transition.” The Way of Joy(excerpt)
I recently had an opportunity to tell a story on a live stage. about Milarepa, the great Tibetan hermit, singer, teacher who, it’s been said, lived a thousand years ago So I am reposting an older video blog of this story today for your enjoyment.
As a kid, I grew up with some heavy-hitters from the arts world hanging out in my family’s living room. The classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz (Volodya to friends) played the piano in the living room of our summer house when he was too nervous to go home during a thunderstorm; Frank Loesser, humorist extraordinaire and composer/lyricist of shows like Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, used to try to convince my younger brothers and me to chop up my composer father’s piano with a hatchet; and Martha Graham listened to my young dreams to become an actress and looked directly into my eyes and told me I must always follow my dreams.
I think that one of the most important things I learned from being around these “big names” in my daily life was that being a star does not mean being protected from our inner demons. I learned very quickly that uncertainty, those nagging inner nay-sayers and crazy-makers, are constant companions in our journeys both in our successes and our failures.
Tip o’ the camera to one of my treasured friends, the brilliant playwright, theater performer, and teacher, Jean-Claude van Itallie, who first introduced me to this tale.
What ways do you cope with those inner gremlin voices?
Whether you love, tolerate or dislike the holidays, it is important to keep your energy replenished. Most people can acknowledge that, regardless of their feelings about the holidays, this time of year can be draining, especially if you are the type of person who is a caretaker and puts the needs of others first. What can you do to “pivot to positive”?
So what do you typically experience during the holiday season?
Free Teleclass: Bring Back the Joy: 3 Quick Tips to De-stress your Holidays
To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe. I call it stillness, but it is a jewel with many facets: that stillness is also joy, and it is love. —Eckhart Tolle
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn is a time associated with the metal element, which includes the theme of letting go, grief, and coming back to core in the way of trees losing their leaves. At the same time, for many of us in Western cultures, it is a time when we are ramping up, getting back to work after summer.
Do you find you get overwhelmed with “So much stuff to do!” at the same time, you want to resist, maybe curl up and rest as the days grow shorter, nights longer?
That’s been the main repeating mutter in my brain this last week. While I absolutely love (and choose) everything I’m working on, I’ve had abundant opportunities to work on the stress of overwhelm.
So today, I decided to “practice what I teach” and take some time to remember the first of the Way of Joy Laws, Within Motion, Stillness, Within Stillness, Motion. “To experience stillness in your life does not require shutting down your senses or building a barrier to the chaos of an energetic, alive and unpredictable world. Through the power of your breath and attention, you can sustain an awareness of that inner space of quiet constancy, the peaceful Observer, while the world around you spins and twirls.” (excerpt from The Way of Joy).
This is one of my favorite methods to embed this intention in your body, to live it from the inside out.
What do you experience when you’re in that place of inner calm?
Author and Founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness Program, Vicki Dello Joio is a transformational speaker, life-changing workshop leader and show-stopping theater performer whose brand of brilliance is motivating people to claim their birthright of Joy.is a transformative speaker, life changing workshop leader 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 Joy, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.
Just like her favorite animal companion, my mama has 9 lives. Back in her home with a brand new senior kitty, Mama told me she woke up this morning in her own bed with the sensation of a little cat body pressed up against her back. Life is full of small joys and accomplishments!
“Renegade-Woo” Coach Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness Program, brings together East Coast Attitude and West Coast energy consciousness as a master teacher, transformative 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 transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of Joy, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life