As a follow on to my blog on the experience of living off grid up a mountain for three months, I want to share some of the things learned about senses on my return to a more concrete and busy existence.
The first impression was one of feeling totally overwhelmed by people and lack of space. I live in a beautiful rural area in the UK but not as rural and remote as in Portugal. However I found I was unable to go into the small main town for some weeks without feeling crushed. Goodness only knows how it would have been if I had to return to a city.
Town visits were out of the question for some weeks. I did try on several occasions but found myself going right out of my way to avoid it - the main reason being queues. Often I find the person behind me in a queue generally likes to invade my body space to the point they will even touch me. Now don’t get me wrong, I quite like being touched in the right circumstances, but I find the total stranger who likes to be that close enough to make physical contact is the individual who is often an energy vampire.
Energy vampires are the very people from whom I pick up negativity and absorb it as my own. Even though I have learned over the years some effective ways to protect myself, that type of unwanted contact can still leave me feeling low and exhausted. As if my very essence has gone down the plug hole, swirling and gushing into the sewer, never to return.
Not all energy vampires consciously feed off others and they are not all doing it with malicious intentions. Often they are just lost souls who find it hard to connect and relate to others and their only known method of getting their own needs met is to suck you into their whirlpool. This can be through close contact subconsciously absorbing what they need from you - or through talking at you. Once you start to empathize you are feeding their deeper needs but not in a way that is ultimately healthy for them – or you.
In the mountains there was no unwanted touching, other than by biting flies and mosquitoes and which I admit I find preferable to energy vampires. What I was surrounded by on that mountain side was my own. I didn’t have to spend time sorting through buckets of assorted bits and pieces to see what was mine and what was some one else’s I had accidentally bought home and really didn’t want to feed and keep. The trouble being once you have taken it - you can’t give it back with an ‘oops I think this is yours’. There isn’t even a dump to take it to. Instead you are left holding it or even worse you chuck it at some other poor unsuspecting passing soul.
In the Wolf Medicine programme I work alongside other Highly Sensitive People. So, I try to teach them about energy fields, what they themselves put out, how to protect themselves, and when to use their own unique sensitivity to help others. As this work progresses I am becoming more and more mindful that addiction and some mental illness is very much aligned to sensitivity. There is a growing body of research starting to confirm this.
I realise this blog might make me sound like a miserable old grouch but to be an effective therapist and teacher - you need self-awareness, honesty and strategies to avoid compassion fatigue. It has taken me some years to realise what works for me and what doesn’t. We are all different in how we sense and experience the world and my role now is much more about helping others protect themselves - especially as they move into caring roles.
The next blog will explore the impact of immersing yourself in nature on another of our senses – that of smell.