I am hypersensitive and therefore unable to take in much news or social media. As much as I want to be educated about what is happening in the world, I have learned that the best way I can be a part of the solution to the problems that are breaking open all around is to turn inward and connect to the light. To the outside observer, it may appear that I am doing nothing, and I often join in those accusations. Then, I return to my calm, still center and re-orient to the voice of truth.
The truth whispers in a tone that feels resonant, “Be still and know that I am God.” In the stillness I don’t know all things, but I do know that God is a God of justice and order and he is still at the helm. I also remember that God made me this way. If he wanted me on the front lines fighting against the injustice in a more active way, he would not have built me with a sensitive soul and deeply empathic heart. He would not have allowed me to suffer trauma that silenced me and got trapped into the cells of my being.
Over this past year, many things have broken my heart and left me shaking my head in disbelief, feeling crushed under the weight of the injustice. As an empath, I absorb into my body the suffering of others as I see their eyes and hear their stories. It is such a good gift to feel the pain of another, but it can often feel more like a curse. I can collapse into a place of powerlessness, frozen by my trauma response; however, as I learn about polyvagal theory and the brilliant way that the brain is wired for survival, I am growing in compassion for my “freeze response.”
Recently I listened to an Asian woman share her story of injustice at the hands of adolescent white boys and girls who were being ignorant and cruel. As she talked, the light exposed the larger and systemic problem of racial injustice that I have read about and have been trying to understand. Looking at her face broke me open—I saw so much pain and felt personally responsible. I fell into a place of shame that kept me frozen; I struggled to push against it and try to find language.
In addition to this experience, I was simultaneously processing a personal story of injustice. In the story of sexual harm, my body took on the shame of an unjust system, which left me feeling frozen and alone in the dark. As I courageously shared my story with others, I received so much compassion and healing grace from men and women of different colors and sizes. It was in that experience that something broke free in me.
I will no longer agree to remain silent and bound to the individual and collective shame. I will no longer allow my embodied trauma to keep me curled up in the fetal position, alone in the dark.
I am learning to rise up and stand firm in the truth.
Every time I rise, I am rising on behalf of my own little girl but also on behalf of those who are still silently bound. I am taking back my voice, and it is growing stronger every day.
I will no longer demand that I know what I don’t yet know or speak out pretending that I do. Instead, I will turn inward and connect to the light that connects us all. As I orient to the source of love, God is healing and empowering me to stand up against injustice.
Each day forward I will choose to simply rise and shine the light that is in me, believing that as a result, the world will not be the same. I will confess the ways my playing small and silent has caused others to suffer. I will show up and speak out when necessary and humbly bow in the spaces where words will only cause more harm. I will remain open and ask good questions—“Help me understand why you feel/think/see things this way?”—and I will use my voice to say enough—“I am enough; you are enough; it is enough.”
I unroll my sticky mat and rest in child’s pose, releasing the embodied trauma through my hands and forehead as it kisses the ground of being. I wait in the stillness and breathe in the healing light of God. I rise like a mountain and stand firm in the truth that my presence is enough. Whether standing alone in creation or sitting in front of a computer screen caring for another person who suffers, my presence brings healing. In the present moment, there is peace.
Jean Masukevich is a trauma sensitive yoga teacher and integrative coach with over 20 years of teaching experience. Her mission is to guide others to greater mind, body, Spirit integration and connection to their authentic self. She cultivates communities of care where individuals and groups heal and share their hearts and stories through movement, writing, meditation, integrative prayer, creativity, and the sacred art of listening. Jean holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, and is a certified Spiritual Director through Sustainable Faith. Jean serves both children and adults and is available for in person and remote coaching. Contact her at Sowthatjean@gmail.com.
Jean, This was beautifully written. I relate to the sentence, ” It is such a good gift to feel the pain of another, but it can often feel more like a curse.” Yes! I feel that way as well. Also, the “freeze response” that I have found is often mistaken by others for stoic courage, when in reality it is me utilizing what I learned as a child to survive. Thank you for so vulnerably sharing from your heart. I’m thankful there are empaths like you in this world. Shine on!
Yes! Stoic courage that costs so much…
Thank you for seeing and blessing the gift of empathy 💗
Jean, I love you so much! As I began to read, I knew it was your writing. Your voice comes through so clearly, powerful yet meek, confident yet curious, wise and open. Thank you for being you! You are changing the world by standing, and by listening to God as you wait int the light! Ruth Caron
I love you too and am thankful for your encouraging words and radiant love 💗
Jean, this is beautiful! As I was reading it felt it is me. I am hypersensitive as well. The negativity around gets me. Thanks for this. Cheers
Hoping you take with you some extra doses of light to clear away the negativity and a beautiful shield to protect your tender soul!
“…rest in child’s pose, releasing the embodied trauma…I wait in the stillness and breathe in the healing light of God. I rise like a mountain and stand firm in the truth that my presence is enough.”
Thank you, my beautiful friend and teacher. Your presence is a pure gift to me.
Just this: ” I will no longer demand that I know what I don’t yet know or speak out pretending that I do. Instead, I will turn inward and connect to the light that connects us all. As I orient to the source of love, God is healing and empowering me to stand up against injustice.
Each day forward I will choose to simply rise and shine the light that is in me, believing that as a result, the world will not be the same.”
Yes. And thank you.