I consider shielding a vital, basic energy management skill along with centering and grounding. In April we did an overview of basic practices to protect us from being unduly influenced from outside energy.
WALLS / SHIELDS
First we experienced what the energy of walls were like. We all know people who are “guarded” or “walled off,” and perhaps we are, too, in certain contexts or in the company of certain individuals. I once knew someone who had walls that felt like a stone fortress, but behind that barrier I also senses a tender, beating heart. Of course, it makes sense. We only protect that which we are afraid will get hurt.
So to begin our exploration into shielding and boundaries we can practice consciously throwing up a wall or a shield. Go with whatever feels instinctive to you. Everyone has done this at once point or another, so don’t worry about how to do it or if you’ll get it wrong, because you can’t. If it helps, imagine that you are walking down a quiet street and you suddenly see someone walking toward you. This person is someone you would rather not interact with. How do you prepare for the encounter?
What does your wall / shield feel like? What is it made of? How big is it? What does it feel like to walk around with this kind of protection? How do other people react to you when you have your defenses up?
Some shields are heavy, some are icy (or simply cool), some are prickly. Anger is an entirely different kind of shield. Have you ever seen someone radiate such hot anger that people literally back away from him? It can be really interesting and fun to sense and observe the different ways we protect ourselves and how it affects those around us.
When I first did this exercise I found that I threw up a brick wall that was rather difficult to walk around with. Even though it didn’t look that big, it was cumbersome and heavy. When I shared this with my meditation teacher, he warned me that people can sense our defenses, and walls sometimes incite the desire to breach them. Not shortly after that conversation, something happened that convinced me to drop my practice of walling myself off. I was in a restaurant and raised a wall during a meal, and the person I was trying to keep at an energetic distance physically stood up, walked around the table to where I was seated, and got in my face!
It was time to use other tools for shielding, and I am glad to share some of those below with you.
Perhaps the most popular shielding method is to shroud yourself in white light, and there are countless ways to do this from a variety of traditions, some of which are more involved than others. Here is a process you can do without much fuss: Turn inward and begin to imagine a source of protective white light above you. Connect to it and start feeling it coming through the crown of your head. On the in breath intensify that feeling of protection, taking it into all the cells in your body. On the our breath send that light out your pores. Repeat this until you sense it surround your entire being in white light. You are protecting more than your physical body, so you will want to give that light a bit of space beyond the limits of your skin. You might envision this as a protective egg or sphere around your being.
White light is a great tool to use before you enter intense or chaotic situations. I encourage you to play around with this tool, research and experiment with alternate ways of doing it, and report back!
My favorite way of shielding is so subtle that people don’t sense that there is any “shield” there at all! This involves creating a “rose border” around you. You do this by imagining a rose about heart level a foot or two in front of you. Place another rose directly behind you, to your right, and to your left, all that the same level. Give each rose a grounding cord. …And that’s it!
I always do this when I walk through crowded subway stations or sidewalks. I find that people rarely get into my space, or if they do, they seem to “glance off” me really quickly. With practice it takes very little time and effort to put a border up.
The golden platter is a useful tool for discerning what energies you want to take into your space. It is especially helpful if you are in some kind of conflict or are involved in a difficult, intense conversation. Imagine a golden platter between you and the other person. Whenever that person speaks, see / feel / imagine her words falling onto the golden platter. From there you can sift through what you want to take in. Whatever feels toxic to you can slide off the platter into the Earth.
This tool was channeled by my teacher from the Akashic Records. They offer this tool as a compassionate alternative to shielding. By taking other people’s words and feelings into consideration, we are effectively offering them lovingkindness. As such, it is much more effective than surrounding yourself in a protective bubble or imagining yourself as a mirror, both of which approaches tend to be off-putting to others.
This exercise may not immediately seem “handy,” and it might feel downright awkward at first, but as with anything, practice makes this second nature. As always, however, feel free to experiment to see what works best for you!
I saved the simplest method for last. Using our breath to center ourselves is simple and effective. In challenging situations I simply breathe into my heart space. Therapist, author, and meditation teacher Judith Blackstone offers a powerful variation on this that takes a bit of practice, but if you manage to pull it off, you are effectively activating your subtle core: Breathe into your head center. While holding that center, drop into your heart space and begin centering there with your breath. Hold both centers simultaneously, and then drop into your sacrum and begin centering there, without losing your head center and your heart center. Breathe into these three centers evenly.
My therapist told me she teaches that exercise to all her clients before the holidays! From personal experience, however, it is really difficult to follow a conversation while doing this, which I guess is part of the reason why it keeps people from being sucked into conflict and drama. That said, I recommend a lot of practice before taking this out for a spin because it is plenty challenging enough holding three centers in a pristine, meditative space.
So there you have my tools for shielding and boundary maintenance! If you have any others to share, or have stories from the wild, please share below!