I was born highly sensitive. My mom had to cut all the tags out of clothes, I could tell immediately if someone was sad and could hear a conversation happening in a whisper from 2 rooms away (my mom used to ask, "do you have microphones in your ears?").
I had only a few close friendships during my childhood. They were loyal, committed, joined-at-the-hip, do-anything-for-each-other, who-am-I-without-you types of friendships. Before deciding what my favorite fill-in-the-blank was, I felt the need to check in with the BFF first to make sure we were on the same page. Their experience became my experience, their emotions became my emotions.
I loved my friends, dogs, and deep conversations. I was a deeply dedicated friend and student. I did well in school, motivated mostly by the drive to not to disappoint anyone. I hated big social gatherings (and still do). I never went to a single school dance, avoided sports events at all costs (went to just enough so I wouldn’t be "that weirdo"), and begged to not have to go to my high-school graduation ceremony.
Growing up, my parents and I had an agreement that I had to do one extra-curricular activity, my choice, but I had to do something. I tried all the extracurriculars (basketball, softball, soccer, piano, clarinet, you name it...) but internally crumbled with any form of performance or competition. In sports I tried my best to become invisible - I hid in the outfield, ran just fast enough so that it would look like I was trying but just slow enough that I would be too late to make a play, and turned bright red whenever I got the ball and felt people looking at me.
After exhausting all other extracurricular avenues, my mom took me to yoga when I was 14. I was hooked. Two 90-minute classes back to back everyday after school for 3 years. Workshops (and eventually yoga teacher training) every weekend. Finally, a place quiet enough where I could hear my own thoughts and feel my own emotions. A place where I didn’t feel like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. A place where I could be near people and also be alone. A place where I could be seen and also be invisible. A place where I felt intimate and connected, and also felt sovereign and free. The place where I met myself and felt my power for the first time.
My early 20s were a blur. I was constantly lighting my life on fire and spending all my energy to put the fire out. Then starting another one. I partied a lot. I pretended I was an extrovert. I ignored my body. I numbed my senses. I numbed my intuition. I ignored red flags. I had no boundaries. I felt regret and shame. I forgot how to trust myself.
In my mid 20s, after my own version of a "rock bottom," I started to find my way back home. I stopped numbing. I came back to my spiritual practice. I worked with therapists, coaches and healers who helped me release my patterns of people-pleasing and perfectionism. I dove deep into a self-compassion and forgiveness practice. I started to hear my intuition again, and this time I listened to her wisdom. I acted in alignment with my inner guidance, and bit by bit, I learned to trust myself.
When I became a mother, the beauty and challenge of living as a highly sensitive being became even more clear. My inner world was rewired overnight. The highly sensitive nervous system that I was born with became infinitely more sensitive. My heightened sensitivity allowed me to effortlessly attune to my baby's energy and meet her needs. I could hear my intuition clearly and followed my inner guidance unapologetically. I felt like I was wearing my heart outside of my body and was flooded with deep care for humanity. The quote “there is no such thing as other people’s children” took on new meaning. I felt a renewed purpose to do my part to make the world a more loving place for future generations.
As I opened more fully to the power of my sensitivity, I also opened to the heightened challenges of walking through the world with an open heart. The reality that my child is living in a world with pain and hurt brought me to my knees. I was terrified to feel joy because I was so scared of losing it in the next breath. I couldn’t be on social media or watch any TV besides Friends or The Office without being on the verge of panic. Watching the news was completely out of the question. Showing up well for my clients and my people was exhausting and deeply challenging. I simultaneously felt like I was doing way too much and was never doing enough. I felt guilty every time I took time for myself. I struggled to set boundaries and express my needs and got angry and resentful when my husband could not read my mind and know what I needed. I was physically, emotionally, and energetically burned out.
I knew that if I wanted to show up as the leader I knew I could be in my motherhood and in my work, I needed to get my nervous system out of a collapsed state and into a state of empowerment where I could take actions that aligned with my deep care and devotion. I returned to the spiritual practices that I have come to know so well, seeking wisdom and guidance for the questions that consumed me:
How can I keep my heart open in a world where pain is a reality?
What does my body need? What does my heart need? What needs to be felt and expressed in this moment?
What is self-trust? Is this my intuition or fear guiding me?
Is it safe to love this freely and deeply? Is it safe to receive joy and pleasure? What if I lose it all?
How can I release patterns of performing, people pleasing, and comparison? How can I finally stop abandoning myself and claim leadership of my own life?
What are my deepest desires? Am I worthy of receiving them?
What is healthy attachment? What does it mean to attune to another being while maintaining my sense of self?
How can I express my personal boundaries while maintaining intimacy in my relationships?
How can I unleash my sensitivity as my greatest superpower?
Sensing Shakti, my signature program, is what emerged as I explored these questions. Sensing Shakti is an integration of the tools and practices I used to get my nervous system out of collapse, align my actions with my deep care, and step more fully into leadership in my life and business. Sensing Shakti combines my lifetime of experience as a sensitive being, plus my 15+ years of studying and practicing yoga, ayurveda, breath work, reiki, meditation, life coaching, somatics and sensory processing to support highly sensitive beings who care so deeply and hold so much to heal from burnout, reclaim their SHAKTI (energetic power and feminine life force energy), and create a life of intimacy, sovereignty, and purpose.
p.s. I would love to practice yoga with you! Check out my free practice bundles HERE.