Self Care for the Transformational Teacher: Infinitely Connected or Always-Confined?

August 28, 2018

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Professional healers and transformational teachers are commonly thought to have mastered “self-care” as a priority and skill; surprisingly, this is not always the case. Conditions like Compassion Fatigue can easily overwhelm people who serve others. Whether you are a teacher, coach, healer, or anyone in a ‘helping’ profession, you are going to want to give people your best and go the extra mile to aid them in healing and fulfilling their values and visions. But sometimes, in our attempt at whole-hearted giving, we can go overboard and drain our own energy.


Of course it’s always important to build healthy habits into our lives, such as exercise, relaxation, reflection time, meditation--fun! You may even have access to many resources for self-care that you share with others. Today my sole focus will be to share about an underlying habitual mental-emotional structure that causes us to deplete energy, and to offer a simple switch to change it. 


The Confining Circle


Circles can be powerful symbols of wholeness. But today we’ll focus upon the enclosing, even confining, quality of a circle as contrasted with something more empowering.


Lots of people have needs of you. And as a transformative healer or teacher with special gifts, you want to fulfill their needs, at least most of the time. But sometime the needs - not just of our clients, but of family, significant other, friends, and coworkers - can enclose us. We can feel confined—even lost— in the circle of the demands placed on us by others. We lose a sense of healthy boundary and just give give give. When experiencing this overload, we often make misguided self-nurturing choices, that further drain our energy, such as overindulgence in unhealthy comfort foods, hours of escapist behavior with the web and streaming entertainment, and so forth.


Whenever we feel consumed or overwhelmed we can be certain we are in a configuration that confines us without enough space and freedom to come up for air. This is the unhealthy circle configuration.


Note: (Part of the thrill of a lover, and the time-tested trust in a romantic partner, is the intimacy of sharing a circle of closeness special to the both of you. But we aren’t necessarily meant to have this with others, most of the time.)

Exercise:


Think of one client or student of yours that is particularly “needy.”  Imagine for a moment you and that person are enclosed in a circle together. How does this feel? Initially you might feel quite comforted with the sense of connection in the circle.


Now think of a group that has needs of you.  Again, how does it feel to be enclosed in a circle with them? What feels good? What doesn’t?  


Sooner or later, you will likely feel the need to be in your own individual circle separate from the others, and you may even judge this need as “selfish.”


So what is the configuration that keeps you independent-yet-connected?


The Figure 8!


In my early career I learned an “energy configuration” that I’ve applied in many different ways in my life which  my students have also found very useful.


It’s changing from the Circle configuration to the Figure 8.

(Also known as  the infinity sign, or  - if you are a math nerd- the lemniscate!)

In this energetic configuration you are in one half of the figure 8, and those you are helping are in the other.

Exercise 2:


Imagine the same above-mentioned person or group in a circle that is one-half of a figure 8, and you are in the other half. You are in your individual self, but connected to those in their circle. You give your guidance via this interconnecting link as well as your love, your healing, and your wisdom. But you stay in your individual sphere,drawing from your own skills and resources while you pour forth your best to them;linked but delightfully distinct.


How does this feel? Which has you feeling more empowered;the circle configuration or the figure 8? When the figure 8 is your default energy configuration you may find that the unbound intimacy of the enclosing circle is appropriate from time to time in circumstances such as dance, drumming, and tribal ritual, but your general professional stance is to maintain your individual self while you empower others.


The applications are endless so do experiment with this and let me know what happens!


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Thomas Amelio