You are a sensitive being. You feel and notice more than most. What do you do when a toxic leader is driving you crazy? When this happens, you and I need to engage different muscles, soul muscles. Maybe you are already using them.
I was once a minister in the church. Unfortunately, I navigated more than one situation where a person incrementally took the community captive. Some people aren’t just critics. There aren’t enough workshops, experts, prayers, committee meetings, or conversations to appease these individuals. They ferret out dissent and build coalitions. The idea of a common good is not on their mind though they say it is. They blatantly defy social rules and are uncannily gifted at encouraging others to do the same, even people I’d expect to behave ethically. In my experience, a church leader, like presidents, agrees not to tamper in communities they’ve served. In my case, the former pastor got seduced into hosting dinner meetings with the antagonist. Confusion grew. People refused to name the ringleader.
How does this happen? More like a disease in the body than a strategy, some people eat and drain the energy or power of others as indicated in this article on workplace bullying. The book Antagonists in the Church: How To Identify and Deal With Destructive Conflict by Kenneth Hauck helped make sense of my experience. I don’t consider the book authoritative about normal conflict, but it showed that this particular problem wasn’t just me. Because leaders lrefuse to empower such experiences is one reason we don’t talk about it. But, for many the scars are real and so is the learning.
I love affirming people. I am loyal, playful, caring, and too empathetic. But, antagonists aren’t interested in that. They need energy. I had to learn an entirely different strategy for dealing with the insatiable drama of antagonism, but by the time I did, it was too late — the church split. Good and embattled members disappeared. My health deteriorated. I had no training in the phenomenon and had to go. The good news is that experiences like this accelerated my path to create InterPlay. I understood better the nature of health in the community.
As we deal with insanity in the U.S. presidency, here are the strategic muscles I’m using.
Step one: Center in soul and healthy relationships. Gather and honor your higher power. Soul muscles are so deep we forget that they’re even there. Connect to Source and find the reassurance that you are OK no matter what.
Step two: Resist looking for what is fair and what isn’t. Instead, notice energy. Are you getting drained? Is it like people are fighting a disease? Are they getting drained? Yes? This is an energy problem. Don’t be consumed.
Step three: Keep shifting attention off of the antagonist to those open to love. The antagonist’s ability to incite reaction is their primary power. Use energy wisely. Train your focus on building up people.
Step four: Give up shaming and negotiating. Mental health professionals recognize that some personalities may not be able to improve their social awareness. Shame or negotiation with antagonistic people feeds the disease.
Step five: Surrender idealism. To deal with conflict head-on, I had to confront an addiction to idealism. Perpetuating tolerance of unjust actions and words is part of whiteness. To see if you are addicted to idealism, check out this article.
Step six: Observe Solemn Boundaries: Let your “No” be neutral and clear. This is where soul muscles get a real workout. The good news is that NO becomes the most loving thing for everyone. Items on the list below come from PsychCentral.com for dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder. They are similar to the behavioral strategies for dealing with people who are agitating for their next energy/drama fix.
- Don’t feed an antagonists need for attention/validation
- Don’t get pulled into drama triangles.
- Don’t feel emotionally destroyed by impulsive remarks or behaviors.
- Don’t become emotional “prey.
- Don’t get into any routines or habits with antagonists.
- Don’t be their “go-to” person at ALL times.
- Don’t allow boundary crossings.
- Don’t always go the extra mile.
- Don’t look affected by attempts to control, manipulate, or dominate
- Don’t show emotional distress, agitation, anger, or pleasure.
- Don’t give information to someone who intends to manipulate you.
- Don’t get pulled in by unsubstantiated fears of abandonment.
- Don’t normalize their risky behaviors.
- Don’t believe they are capable of “snapping out of it.
- Don’t minimize your intuition.
Step seven: Keep building coalitions that understand and protect against the nature of antagonism and continue to place situations and people in Divine hands.
Step eight: Know that all of the above is Love.
I’d love your thoughts and reactions to this. I’ll respond to comments.
Last chance to sign up for this 2020 year-long course
Initiations in the Art of Ensoulment
with the Self-Care Playbook for Sensitive Leaders and Mystics.
Dedicate the year to body, soul, and wisdom needed to thrive and lead in these days.
Choose one of two online monthly workshop options:
Second Mondays starting Jan 13, 2:30-4:30 pm pst,
or Second Thursdays starting Jan 16, 3-5 pm pst.
- Monthly live, 2-hour (recorded) zoom session full of instruction, interplay, reflection, and practices related to the 12 initiatory arts of ensoulment.
- Wisdom and creative prompts from the Self-Care Playbook.
- Share questions, art, poetry, and noticings in a private Facebook group.
- Optional monthly coaching with Cynthia.
Powerful wisdom, powerful results. See more here…
Next week Wed. January 15!
EnneaMotion and the Enneagram
3-4:30 Pacific / 4-5:30 Mountain / 5-6:30 Central / 6-7:30 Eastern
Meet Andrea Isaacs, Enneagram master teacher, creator of EnneaMotion and the EQ quiz. (Take the quiz if you haven’t.) The intro describes the Isaacs Enneamotion approach and training. Get the recording if you can’t make the time. Email me if you want to join.
To join use this link to join us (zoom video): https://zoom.us/j/821297708
Not at your computer? call: 669-900-6833. Meeting ID: 821 297 708
Click here for other time zones
Reserve Your Spot!
Pecos Monastery Santa Fe, New Mexico Retreat.
April 20-23, (3 pm check-in, 5:30 dinner–Thurs, noon departure).
Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey, 25 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Send your deposit: $100 with Venmo, Paypal, or check to Cynthia Winton-Henry, 2273 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612.
Total Cost: $495-$640
Room and Board $295.00 15 singles, 5 doubles, register early for singles.
Honoraria $200-345 sliding scale.
Find respite, among sensitive, creative souls. Listen, rest, sing, move, exhale with InterPlay practices to honor land and our enduring source of resilience and health, body and soul. We’ll research Greening the Soul: Creative Practices for Ensoulment., take personal time, make art, dance on behalf of each other and our world, create ritual and tune-in to stories, nudges, weirdness, laughter, and arising wisdom. Link for more info…
Note: Retreat precedes the 30th annual Santa Fe Spiritual Director’s International Conference, where Cynthia and Soyinka will present.
Our ancestors were not naive. They were incredibly attuned to the cosmos, radically dependant on nature, and wildly perceptive. They relied on the gestalt of the collective’s cumulative senses to discern patterns and discover Earth’s wisdom for them over time. Their masterful spiritual intelligence was practical and mystical leading them to honor their ground of being as holy and wise beyond measure. To disregard such body wisdom was a form of insanity. As we can see, today, their wisdom is still authoritative.
Do you know things, see things, and feel things in ways that make you appear more intense or reserved than others? Do you have visionary bursts or feel shut down? Do you struggle with shame about “who you are?” We need your wisdom. We need you to feel whole and worthy!
People who are gifted and sensitive have a different center of gravity. When our culture disregards our center of gravity we experience overwhelm, disease, and chronic ailments.
One in five humans is designed to sense more. We are not broken. We are gifted. We require an Earthwise balancing point. Like a treasured plant in the rainforest with great medicine, an orchid’s prophetic beauty, an elephant’s ability to walk miles to honor the anniversary of the deceased, a sensitive body may grow ill, turn against self and others when families, religious communities, work, and schools miss this fact.
Those who don’t fit into standard models need unique forms of training and encouragement. In fact, all people benefit from understanding and practicing the body wisdom needed by sensitives. After all, that is what sensitives are for, to help communities strengthen spiritual intelligence, creative imagination, wisdom, earth care, and health.
All of my adult life I’ve been guided to learn and practice the wisdom of sensitivity. Even in seminary, I had to demythologize and decode sacred texts. I had to get as close as I could to direct forms of knowledge to find support. I had to travel to Africa, India, and to Pueblos in order to find my center. I was given incredible mentors who supported me as an artist, thinker, writer, and dancer. Because of dance, I inadvertently trained to be a body intellectual. Thanks to my work with Phil Porter and creating InterPlay, I stumbled onto a gold mine of human health-making processes, the heart of which is located in the birthright practices of dance, story, voice, and stillness. These wisdom practices are embedded in ancestral village morays.
One day I told my spiritual director that I hoped to write a book about initiations for mystics. She laughed. I didn’t realize it’s crazy and presumptuous. Nonetheless, I’ve seen a huge gap in training for people like me. I want to assist others who are entering or trying to navigate the ancient mystic stream in a way that can shift us from affliction to recognizing and credentialing ourselves as gifted. When we do we see that all growth is rooted in Earth and her initiations. As initiates, we develop clarity of vision, efficiency of energy, and courage to love.
It is humbling to say that each year, people have been gathering with me in retreat and online spiritual courses. The course is the Art of Ensoulment: 12 Initiations in the Playbook for Senstives, Mystics, and Artists. I’ve asked some women to share their experience of the course.
Licensed acupuncturist Jiling Lin, L.Ac. “Ensoulment helped me transition through graduation, board exams, and starting a medical practice. During sessions, I feel met and heard and am able to access and express usually inaccessible states. This helps me be more creative, motivated, and ultimately live a more joyous life, to show up fully for myself, and my patients and students. Snippets of ensoulment tools arise when needed in life and clinical practice, particularly in times of challenge, as gems of beauty that help anchor me into my greatest self, and the Great Mystery of the Universe. Deep gratitude!”
MaryEllen May, filmmaker, guide of Mythos Journeys. “Life often feels like too much for my sensitive body, but this year was exceptionally challenging. I’ve often felt trampled, fragmented and compromised just by being in the world. The effects of this in my energetic field and in my physical body left me depleted. I’m incredibly grateful to have connected with Cynthia and the journey of ensoulment last January. It gently carried me through the trials I faced. Each month gifted me with a deeper way of dancing with life’s initiations. It gave me ways to experience these life shifts as gateways. I moved through each gateway with profound appreciation and awe, transformed by the experience rather than trampled by it. Cynthia’s guidance about how to navigate life in a sensitive body and to playfully release and dance has been life-saving. This is a course one can encounter, again and again, going deeper each time. The richness of this course can’t be overstated, I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to take the journey of ensoulment.
I am offering the introduction to the course in an hour and a half online live training called Gifted and Sensitive Bodies: Intro Workshop for Leaders, Mystics, and Artist. The session is easy going, instructional, and gives you some practice in the basic tools of grounding, clearing, and restoring yourself. Link here for cost and times.
If you are interested in stepping into the year-long course I welcome your inquiry. It’s a commitment so I am happy to talk to you in person to see if this is the right fit. Link here for more information.
Thank you for reading. If you know someone who might be interested, please forward this message. It can take years for someone to finally orient to their giftedness!
Are you gifted and sensitive? Know someone who is? The upcoming 90-minute trainings help us shift from labeling ourselves or others as overly sensitive to being credentialed members of the “One-In-Five Gifted, Sensitive and Body Wise Club.”
We’ll incorporate tools from InterPlay, a creative framework for body wisdom full of supportive strategies that make sensitivity understandable, manageable and fun. I’ll survey the initiations that sensitive bodies encounter and give you a peek at How to Live Your Glorious Life No Matter What with instruction on the art of ensoulment using the Self-Care Playbook for Sensitive Leaders and Mystics.
Join either 90-minute training to receive the 24-page Spiritual Instruction Module, Credentialed as Mystics: How to Honor Gifted and Sensitive People covering
• What are Your Soul Credentials?
• You’re Not Sick, You’re Sensitive! Recognizing the 1-in-5
• How to Make Sensitivity More Fun
• Playing with Initiations
• Initiated by the Nature of Life
• Initiation Inventories for One-In-Fivers
• How You Are Credentialed to Serve
This offering is through Cynthia Winton-Henry, not Body Wisdom.
Workshop, recording, and pdf $25
With an Individual session $75
available at lower prices.
or send a check to Cynthia Winton-Henry
2273 Telegraph Ave, Oakland CA 94612
Venmo payments also accepted.