Setting Boundaries

Contributor: Ashley Neese
Photographer: Marielle Chua
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Much of my life I’ve had two operating modes when it comes to conflict in intimate relationships with my family and partners. I either soak up everyone’s energy like a boundary-less sponge or totally check out and shut down. These last couple of months I am learning (yet again) that there IS a middle ground where I can set a boundary for myself and stay present with what is happening.

Have you ever cycled through a big lesson in your life? For ages I thought that you just circled back through lessons until the end of time, but the truth is you can break the patterns and learn the lessons! If there are areas in your life where you keep coming back to, wow how did I end up here again?, there is something you aren’t getting. Until you uncover what the deeper teaching is you will keep repeating the cycle.

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In yogic philosophy these repetitive lessons are often referred to as samskara, our patterned conditioning. It is believed that we are born with our emotional impressions or karmic inheritance, samskara, and they can be positive or negative. Each time we repeat a samskara it is reinforced. Unconsciously repeating negative samskaras slows down personal growth and development. The more awareness you cultivate, the easier it is to recognize the patterns and change them.

This philosophy really resonates with me. I believe that we are born into the world with certain energies and patterns. Part of our journey is to shift them so that we can be examples of light and joy to the people in our lives. As a teacher and healer I know I have to continue to do the work of releasing patterns that no longer serve me and set an example to others. In order to carry a potent message forward you have to heal yourself first.

Setting boundaries is about taking care of yourself and standing in your power. If you’re an empath like I am chances are you have taken on other people’s energy and had times in your life where you confused the absence boundaries with love. When you can’t tell the difference between your partner’s sadness and your sadness you are not fully living your own life.

Setting boundaries isn’t about throwing up walls and creating cold and calculated distance. This practice is about learning to give yourself the space you need in each moment to stand tall and love the people in your life exactly as they are. Setting boundaries is about knowing your limits, asking for what you need and taking a moment of pause before reacting. Through the integration process of actively setting loads of boundaries in my relationship I am much happier than I have been in a long time. The path to healing is unfolding very quickly because I am not absorbing energy that isn’t mine.

Learning to set boundaries is an essential life skill that you must master if you want to travel lighter and be of service in this world. Now, more than ever we need teachers and guides that are doing this important work of clearing their samskaras to light the way for others.

Do you set boundaries in your life? What do they look like?