I am an introverted Highly Sensitive Person who used to try and not be sensitive. Then, when I saw sensitivity as a strength I embraced it fully and let myself draw all my parts into my full expression: comedic, gentle, loud, quiet, serious, confident, irreverent.
I help Sensitive Souls harness their spiritual wisdom so they can unleash their creativity and manage their energy system. My clients’ energy fields are healthier, so that their aura system is more resilient, their boundaries stronger and they feel more energized. I teach them tools they can use to cleanse their own energy, connect to their wisdom and access their brilliance.
When your energy system isn’t inundated with everyone else’s energy, thoughts and emotions–causing fatigue, anxiety, depression and loud mind chatter–the mind is clearer, you can feel your own emotions and hear your thoughts. You are less tired, calmer and less anxious. Most importantly, you are able to hear your own inner wisdom and easily determine which is the voice of ego and which your own spirit.
Then, it's easier to take action because you trust your information. Having a sense of certainty from within makes it easier to trust your decisions and course of action. This means life changes are navigated with greater ease and less angst. Relationships are clearer and less a source of “drag.” You are you, with all of your energies available to live your life.
Sensitive Souls are people who know they are sensitive but don't know how to handle their sensitivity. They are overwhelmed and fatigued from being out in the world and with other people and often feel like they are crazy. Many sensitive people privately believe that there is something wrong with them. They tend to take on the emotions and thoughts of others as their own and may end up depressed and anxious and stuck.
I have helped hundreds of people reach their personal goals through my healing facilitation, using the gifts I have honed over years of training and practice. Mothers, professionals who are stuck in depression who couldn’t get out of bed have been able to start functioning again and find a new job. Women in grief have found their inner strengths to navigate the grief, make important decisions and feel a lightness within them as they grew to a new wholeness.
I have helped women entrepreneurs heal their relationship to their feminine aspect and access that power to become more effective leaders. Clients have opened to their spiritual and psychic gifts and developed highly skilled intuition to work in multiple realms other than the one we live in.
Therapists who came in feeling heavy, who wanted to make sure they weren’t carrying clients’ pain, learned to manage their energy and create stronger boundaries and stop taking it all home with them.
I have even facilitated clients’ loved ones coming through in a session to give them a message of love when they needed it most.
I am an introverted Highly Sensitive Person who used to try and not be sensitive. I used to think I was supposed to be an extrovert. Over the years I had developed headaches and depression, and I think it was from trying to be invisible. If no one noticed me I wouldn’t have to interact, and if I didn’t interact then I didn’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing or being misunderstood.
Wanting to figure myself out, I was drawn to self-development and energy work. I took my first Reiki class back in 1996 and I incorporated healing in my day-to-day life with young kids, my plants and myself. Less than 10 years later I was taking a series of classes to develop my intuition.
I had a wonderful teacher, Nancy, who could literally see energy, its colors, and see and hear the spirit world. The way she taught was to give detailed feedback to us students based on what she saw in our energy field as we were practicing the techniques she taught. If I was talking to my healing guide, she could see him/her/it. She even saw my healing guide leave the room and stand just outside the door… just as I had asked him to do. My mind was blown!
I spent years learning with Nancy and another teacher, Yvonne, in their program, Intuitive Mind. Yvonne helped me integrate and teach some of the techniques to their students. And that really helped me let go an enormous amount of irrational fear that had been stopping me in my tracks from doing anything. I couldn’t have met more loving and supportive guides and mentors for my development at that time.
With their training, I went from not being able to see, hear, feel or sense the energy to being able to use all of my intuitive senses. I developed my own style of reading, or sensing, energy and since 2005 have a daily personal spiritual practice based in meditation that sustains me, connects me to my higher power and deep wisdom, and supports me in my work. I talk to my Ancestors and guides to get guidance on everything.
As a child I “felt” and “knew,” but I also could see the texture of energy for a time before I forgot how to do it. I felt the feelings and thoughts of my parents and brother and for many years believed them to be my own. I am so thankful I learned to differentiate between my stuff and someone else’s.
The advanced psychic healing techniques I have learned include auric healing, balancing body energies, attuning my own energy to assist a client, understanding spiritual energy, working with spirits, understanding energy cords, understanding spiritual contracts, working with the astral body and planes, attuning to the land/earth and offering healing, being able to adjust my own energy for self-healing, being able to get detailed information, developing a relationship between myself and my spirit and other beings. The best part of my energy education is the relationship I have with my spirit and guides. I get up early to spend an hour meditating in my meditation room every day.
I had received Healing Touch treatments and was profoundly grateful for the sense of peace and clarity I had when I got off the table. I had insight into myself that helped me own my own strength and brilliance. I wanted to offer this healing to my clients too.
In Healing Touch each of the five program levels deepens the student’s sensitivity to energy. It’s up to the practitioner to apply what is learned and create their own lived experience and develop their skills through practice.
It took me six years to go through the Healing Touch Program to Certification. Every time I learned the next level material, my body, life and energy field made an adjustment to the new vibration. I felt myself integrating it all as I stepped more fully on my path. Integration is a nice energy term we use to cover all the experiences we have when we are raising our vibration. We get sick, are faced with obstacles and choices in life that may make us change jobs or end relationships. It’s bringing consciousness to life events so we can see them from a bigger picture.
Ethics and the Importance of Lived Experience
One of the biggest teachings I got from Intuitive Mind and Healing Touch is about ethics and integrity. We do not heal someone without their permission and we don’t interfere in a process without permission. Someone’s path may include hardship and suffering and the very lesson they have to learn is to be vulnerable and ask for help. We are not God, we don’t do God’s job, but we are in service to the Divine. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to hold loving space while someone falls apart.
When my teachers taught me something, I undertook to create my own lived experience of it, so that instead of relaying, “Nancy says that…,” or, “Healing Touch teaches that….” I could speak from direct experience. When I say, “Death energy is cold,” it’s because I’ve directly experienced the coldness of death energy, and have been told by my guides what it is, in addition to being taught it. When I say that “the fifth level of the auric field is holding stagnant energy,” it’s because I’ve experienced it through my senses.
Someone recently asked me how I “know” that what I say is what I say… well, in the past, I didn’t “know” for sure. When I was training, I couldn’t hear or sense the voice of my own spirit. To cultivate this, I was told to ask my spirit 3 questions every day–simple questions, not big ones–and to write down the answers. Even if I didn’t get an answer I was still to listen and take time to see how the answer would come. Well, I did this for a year! At first I didn’t think I had a spirit, but gradually I began to get little glimpses of answers and then clear, full answers came, and then dialogue. I used to double and triple check information I was given just to make sure it wasn’t my mind answering me. So, years of patient and diligent practice is how I get and trust spiritual information!
I use my time in daily meditation to heal and train myself, and to create relationship with my Spirit, Guides, Source and Ancestors so I can trust the voice of truth when it comes.
Highly Sensitive People is a Thing
I didn’t know that a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), with a highly sensitive nervous system was an actual “thing”–I just knew I was sensitive, but I viewed it as a flaw that was a liability, and thought that I needed to just push through until I wasn’t sensitive anymore. Not being sensitive didn’t happen, but during my studies over my adult life, I became increasingly aware of the inner dialogue that told me something was fundamentally wrong with me. The book, The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, helped me reframe sensitivity as a natural strength. In this way, the inner critical dialogue lost its power as the “fundamental flaw” became a fundamental strength.
What I experience as an HSP is a feeling of overwhelm when I’m in groups of people and in noise. I get tired easily and feel frustrated or easily irritated. I get headaches. When my routine is disrupted I find it hard. My mind tends to go to the “coulda shoulda woulda” stories. I begin to believe that I’m not very good because I can’t handle even a simple meeting or a vacation. It used to take me weeks to recover from such interactions. Now because of my daily practice and better resilience, it takes me a day or two at most. Usually a few hours.
Indeed, being highly sensitive lends itself to learning about energy, about Self and Other and to developing and honing intuition and psychic skills. It is my highly sensitive system that heightens senses, allowing me to read energy.
This is what I mean: Layers of information in the form of feeling/ sensing/ knowing/ seeing/ hearing are present at all times. When I look at someone or have a conversation with someone, I am privy to so much more than the surface interaction, as we all are. For people who are sensitive, this information is much “louder” than it is for people who are not sensitive.
It’s like we are porous. We can feel emotions and thoughts. Often, it’s difficult to discern what are my emotions and thoughts and what belong to others. The danger is from being inundated with many people’s energy and not knowing how to release it or to set an energetic boundary to stop it from coming in in the first place. I say “danger” only because it can cause/contribute to physical illness, depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Sometimes people are sick for years and cannot find the reason why. It’s possible that they are holding onto so much energy, theirs and others’, that their field has slowed down, is stagnant and causing illness. What their energy field should be doing is bringing energy in, processing it and releasing what’s not needed out to the universe. In the same way, the inner dialogue can be fueled by anxiety and anxiety fueled by inner dialogue.
The key is to learn how to pay attention in a particular way to oneself, to attend to one’s own energy. This is where sensitivity is helpful. The fine tuning necessary is at our finger tips. It’s just a slight orientation in perception/attention to then tap into the layers of subtle information and feeling how it comes…. It could be a body sense, hearing, knowing, smelling, seeing it and then making sense of it. This is what I spent years learning and practicing.
My Sensitivity in Service to Your Healing
I began my private practice more than ten years ago, reading and healing people’s energy, bringing my many years of learning and experience to bear in each appointment. As I tune in to someone, whether they sit in front of me or they are at a distance, I am bombarded with a deluge of information. It’s in the detailed way I pay attention that makes it so I can sift it for the distinct organization I’m looking for. Paying particular attention is the key to not getting overwhelmed or bowled over as a sensitive.
As I sit and wait and watch and listen, a picture emerges, sense comes, and I begin to talk. It might look easy from the outside, but inside my head there is a lot going on. It’s like I imagine I’m piloting an aircraft, making sure it stays aloft. I’m vigilant to create that perfect flight. I make sure I am connected to Spirit. The mind is in the background, “What words/images are coming for this person? Wait, don’t force it, just talk. Oh, there’s another Being that is present. Is it interfering or is it here to give a message? What’s the first thing I need to pay attention to? Prioritize, get help from ancestors, what does the person’s spirit want them to know, how can I help? What is important for them to know….is it appropriate to offer healing here or wait? What does that image or symbol mean?”
In the process of working with clients and in my own growth, I found that my sensitivity is a strength, not only for the person who learns to use its gifts, but also for society as a whole.
I thought that sensitivity was a personal weakness. I tried to get stronger and not be sensitive. I dismissed information that came to me as a knowing or feeling. I deemed that information as wrong or not real and not useful. What I learned from Elaine Aron’s book is that a society needs both its Warrior voices represented and its Sages, Priest/ess’ or Advisors’ voices. Highly sensitive people represent the latter. It’s not the loudest voices that have the most important message. There are layers of wisdom beneath the surface, and in these layers is information that any given situation benefits from. In a warrior society the loudest and most insistent voices are heard first, and often acted upon. It is the voice of the Sage, the Priest/ess and the Advisor that temper the Warrior with longer term views and considered opinions.
When I read the trilogy His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman where the child Lyra describes how she reads the truth-teller, the alethiometer, I felt at once that it was a description of reading subtle energy. Chapter 9 pages 111- 112. When Lyra is asked how she knows the meaning she says, “ I kind if see ‘em. Or feel ‘em rather, like climbing down a ladder at night, you put your foot down and there’s another rung. Well I put my mind down and there’s another meaning, and I kind of sense what it is. Then I put ‘em all together. There’s a trick in it like focusing your eyes.” Later in the third book of the trilogy, she grows out of being able to read the truth teller and when she asks the angel why that is, she is told, “You read it by grace, and you can regain it by work. …. From conscious understanding.”
It more closely described how I perceive spiritual information, too, and the daily work to hone the skill. Looking back, I see that many of my childhood and vocational experiences also prepared me for the work that I do today.
Early Preparation for Healing Work
I was educated in a Church of England primary school and Catholic High school. My relationship with God was mostly meaningful and supportive until I became aware of how unequal men and women are in the eyes of the church. I started in college to look at society by how women, children and the marginalized were treated and my feminist fire was kindled. Since then I’ve explored and found how to have a more personal relationship with God/Source and how to include the Feminine in balance to my experience.
It was one of the nuns at my high school, known as The Convent, who told me about Faith and Light. Faith and Light is a Christian association that includes people with learning disabilities, their families and friends. Local groups meet regularly for three things: Friendships, worship and celebration, a sort of youth group for all abilities. One summer when I was 14, I spent a week with a Faith and Light vacation group in my town. People from around the country gathered for these three things. And fun. And singing.
At age 14 I discovered that the earth didn’t revolve around me. I found I had a huge amount of compassion and a desire to be of service. I learned that just being with someone with no expectation is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. To see someone just as they are, to see their light, has its own healing power. Faith and Light is made up of groups of people who don’t live together.
I graduated from college with a degree in both special and mainstream education, and then worked at Beatrice Tate special school in the east end of London in a classroom with profoundly disabled 5- and 6 -year-olds. I found I was really good at assessing each kid’s specific learning needs and creating a curriculum for them. I intuitively understood things, from the simplest need to be spoken to while maintaining eye-contact, to using the senses to digest information. I was good at identifying the islands of ability each student had and creating a curriculum that would build bridges between the islands to either strengthen that ability or develop new skills.
It was clear to me that the students were not at the heart of the education system. Their needs were not placed above all others (After all, that’s why we were all there). They were at the hearts of the teachers for sure, but when it came to curriculum, school hierarchy and resources, politics got in the way.
I wrote my special education dissertation on L’Arche, a related organization to Faith and Light, when I spent a Summer in the Spokane, Washington, L’Arche community in 1987. I felt a sense of belonging in that community where each person is celebrated and seen.
The Mission of L'Arche, which in French means The Ark, is:
•To make known the gifts of people with developmental disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships; •To foster an environment in community that responds to the changing needs of our members, while being faithful to the core values of our founding story; •To engage in our diverse cultures, working together toward a more human society.
L’Arche was started in 1964 in France by Jean Vanier. He saw that people with intellectual disabilities in institutions, were in difficult living conditions and invited two men to share a home with him. L’Arche is an organization of communities that live together with people with intellectual disabilities at the core. L’Arche exists to create home.
I fully expected that the students in my school would also be celebrated and seen as fully human. My teaching experience fell far short of this, it was not the reality at all. I argued with the janitor one day about the hydrotherapy pool. I “should” have notified her of an accident (poop or puke) in the pool right away. Instead I dried and dressed the children first so they wouldn’t get cold. After that argument, the paper towel dispenser in my classroom was never replenished.
I had told myself, after a talk with Source, that if my teaching job was wonderful that I would stay and that if I was to leave and go to L`Arche, then to please make it obvious so I would know when to leave. The strange dynamic with the janitor and the scarce resources made it clear in my mind. I wanted more of L’Arche. I packed my bags, left my job and headed to L’Arche in Tacoma for a year to be an assistant. http://www.larchethc.org/#
Even though I had found a desire to be of service in life, I was partly a grown-up version of an angry teenager. I had the attitude of, “Don’t tell me what to do. I don’t need your help. Don’t look at me!” I could find all my faults before anyone else even tried, so I beat them there. I don’t think I’d ever been able to let my tender heart be seen. My experience in both Faith and Light and L`Arche gave me an experience of home that I needed.
One of the wonderful things about people with intellectual disabilities is that they don’t care how many degrees you have or how smart you think you are, or how many languages you speak. They care if you’re authentic, if you’ll stick around long enough to get to know them and if you will accept them as they are and recognize their unique gifts. Many folks with intellectual disabilities have been badly wounded. They’ve never been accepted for who they are, but instead seen as what they are not. I could relate to this.
L’Arche offered me a chance to open to myself and exercise leadership, to make ordinary activities into holy moments. Being present means being able to notice each moment and recognize the grace that flows through our every day that we might not normally recognize when we’re preoccupied with the past or what’s happening tomorrow. That’s what a well-lived life consists of: moments of appreciation and awareness that what we have is all a gift.
One of my spiritual mentors in life was Bill Downey, a man with Down Syndrome who was a funny, proper, irreverent man who helped me get over myself. I wrote about an experience in my first weeks in L’Arche here, where Bill totally called my bluff and I was truly`seen`. https://www.sarahthorpehealer.com/blog/finding-a-home-in-1989
When I came to L’Arche I landed in a culture of gratitude, simple presence, daily heartfelt prayer and simple living. When I became more present to others, to myself and the grace-filled moments, I experienced the Divine/ God/ Source in a much more personal way. On Sundays, our house, Hilltop, walked the block to St. Leo, a Jesuit church with a tradition of and commitment to serving the poor, social justice issues and inclusion. Bill regularly helped celebrate Mass.
Feminine Spirituality, Marriage and Parenting It was during my time in L`Arche that I and a couple of friends started a women’s group. I had a thirst within me for the Feminine, a part of me I felt had been crushed, shamed, oppressed and covered. I yearned to feel I belonged and could appreciate my Whole Self. I explored stories in my head and in my world through the lens of the feminine. I found a place within me that could only be filled by loving my woman-self and accepting her.
Many years later I spent a year as a priestess initiate in the Wicca tradition. I learned goddess and earth spirituality. I learned how to hold the energy of a circle, how to connect to the Divine through song, art, writing, dance, nature and what it felt like to have sisters. There was so much more packed into that year that just nourished my heart and called my soul forward.
In my early days in Tacoma I was simultaneously touched/changed by L`Arche and filled/changed by my immersion in feminine spirituality in women’s group. Because my time in L`Arche changed me, cracked my hard shell and led me to my own spiritual interior, I knew that presence and love were what I wanted to carry forward with me. Over time I found places where I felt a sense of belonging- in L’Arche, the St. Leo community, and with Steve, whom I had met in L`Arche.
When I got married to Steve, the church was packed. Bill walked us back down the aisle after the ceremony and a potluck reception hosted by the community followed. My 1 year plan to volunteer in Tacoma became derailed by Steve and nearly 30 years later I am still here.
I carried my L`Arche experience into parenting our three children and I fell into a style of parenting I call spiritual parenting, which was coined by my friend Kim Colella, who is a wonderful healer. ( www.bodysacred.com ) Spiritual parenting is when we allow the tensions and challenges that arise in ourselves as we parent, to guide our personal growth and transformation. Parenting is the fast-track to enlightenment if we let it. Who is ever the same person after surviving the child and teen years?
I believe that our children choose us, there are no mistakes, and we are here to learn spiritual lessons aided by those closest to us. Rather than parenting unconsciously, just doing it the way I had known, I opted to look at the shadow places within me, and see where I was being called to grow. If my kid is pushing my buttons, well, they’re MY buttons and so I can choose to look at them and do my healing work around what’s coming up for me.
What I learned in parenting and L`Arche was that I was required to be present to the spirit of the person as well as to the body, to continue to see them even if they are showing me some gnarly behavior. What can this child/person teach me in their pain, rather than the mindset of having to stop the behavior because it makes me uncomfortable. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. In discomfort there is a space for curiosity and fluidity, making one stretch to find a different mindset/belief.
In those 30 years I’ve been on a course of deep exploration and study, keeping spirituality as my guiding star. As I mentioned, our three kids became my greatest spiritual teachers. I continued to be part of the L’Arche community for a few years until the Air Force took us to Montana.
Being a stay-at-home parent is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I remember feeling that with the first kid I had the ability to touch the edges of my best self and, my worst self. It depended on the day and how I felt about myself. Those early days of staying home were really long with little in the way of respite or replenishing myself.
I have learned day by day and year by year what it means to nurture myself (or not) and the repercussions of each. If I was in my 30s again, I would ask my older self to tell me I was doing an awesome job and to go easy on myself. I wish I’d known how much meditation would support me and my mental health, and I wish I could have given myself permission to take a break sometimes.
As I look back I am in awe of the younger me who did such an amazing job, blazing a new parenting trail and helping to change the trajectory of future generations by parenting through presence and acceptance. Seeing beyond the immediate tantrum/ behavior/ argument to what the deepest part of them is wanting to express helped me exercise compassion for them and for me and helped me create boundaries with respect for their spiritual selves. Young children channel a lot of spiritual wisdom before they get older and realize society deems it childish. Then their wise self goes underground for a few years.
Guided by the Ancestors In my practice, I have a focus on folks with sensitivity, to take people from overwhelm to empowerment, using the tools I’ve learned and letting people lean into their unique way of intuiting and sensing the world around them. We all carry within us the child part who desires to be seen and accepted and loved just as we are, imperfect. Eventually we become our own parent, our own lover. But before we get to the place where we can be our own parent we have to let go of our habits; habits like judging ourselves, criticizing ourselves, believing the old stories we tell ourselves about how we are not good enough and open to the immensity of who we are as spirit.
Changing and healing my energy and developing a close relationship with inner voice and God/ancestors is the way I am doing this and is the way I help others. A few years ago I was guided to become a Minister. I was surprised at the energetic shift that happened when I was ordained in a simple ceremony. My `yes` felt huge!
My ancestors keep telling me to just show up, do what I do and they will do the rest. When you show up with me, your guides and ancestors are also there working on your behalf.
For me personally, it’s been a long, slow process of being hollowed out by spirit and cleared of resistance so God/Source can move through me and flow into wherever I place my attention. I know when the ancestors guide me to a specific book, or to purchase a painting or crystal or to travel to a new place that my resistance is less and my trust is greater
Our latest adventure was to Peru where we made an offering to Mother Earth in a Pachamama ceremony. The same week, I was guided to stop eating all animal products and to do a series of cleanses for my body. I’ve always been a happy carnivore, so I was a bit surprised about that one. But I’ve learned to trust guidance like this, and I measure my spiritual growth and fitness by the ease with which I listen, accept and incorporate these changes into my life.
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