Dear Sensitive Soul,

June has been a nice time to settle down after some May adventures. My partner, Jim, and I traveled to Sequoia National Park for a restful week of cabin lounging, reading, and hiking. Our only complaint: We missed our kitties.

The theme for this month's Art of Sensitive Living is how to work with our empathy. To follow up my recent "Energy Skills for Sensitive Souls" class at Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley, the feature article explores one aspect of self-protection that's important for sensitives and empaths -- learning to set boundaries by letting go of taking responsibility for others.

You'll also find a review of Rose Rosetree's Empowered by Empathy. And, there are instructions for creating an indoor fountain in "Tips for Sensitive Souls," a great way to keep the emotional tenor of a physical space in balance. You'll also find links to some of my latest blog posts, including "Resources for Empaths." Enjoy.

And don't forget, I'll be leading my "Discover Your Essential Self" workshop at the Pacific Northwest HSP Gathering Retreat at the Whidbey Institute in Clinton, Washington, from August 27 to 31. Please attend if you can!


Feature Article
Let Go of Taking Responsibility for Others

Sensitives are often unknowingly affected by the energy, emotions, and desires of others. This can be both confusing and overstimulating because we are unable to distinguish whether we're operating from our own center or someone else's. I believe that it's critically important for sensitive souls to learn how to protect themselves and to clear away the energy and emotions of other people.

One key aspect is setting good boundaries. Many of us get into trouble when we try to take care of other people first. Often this comes at the cost of our own wellbeing. I believe this is due, in part, to our empathic nature. We easily see and feel what others need and want, so it's easy to get confused about "what's mine, what's yours."

An important first step in establishing healthy boundaries is learning to let go of taking responsibility for other people's lives, desires, and emotional responses. It helps me to focus on the spiritual truth that people are on the right and perfect path for themselves, even when they are "clearly not." What I mean when I say this is that if, to my eye or ego-self, people are clearly seem to be making huge mistakes or are in desperate need of rescuing, I take a spiritual step back. I remind myself that this may be exactly the personal challenge that the person needs to fully attain their own soul purpose or to learn their life lessons. And, most importantly, that my interference just may prevent that achievement.

My teacher, Sonia Choquette, says: "Ultimately, an overly empathic heart may be a vote of no-confidence in those you love and care about." This is a good reminder to honor the ability that those around us have to take care of themselves. What we can do, instead, is focus on taking care of our own lives and modeling that for other people. By being responsible for yourself, you create a safe space for others to discover their own power.

This doesn't mean that you can't assist others. But it does mean that it's worth getting their permission or their request for assistance first. Then, see if you can focus on helping them to discover their own solutions -- that's true empowerment. I'm reminded of the old saying that if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; but if you teach him to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime.

Don’t rescue, don't overly identify. Do stay in your power, model empowerment by caring for yourself, and support others to do the same.

On My Nightstand
Empowered by Empathy

I recently finished reading Empowered by Empathy, by Rose Rosetree. The most striking aspect of the book is the gradual realization that as sensitives and empaths, we use our empathy so frequently. Think about the conversations when you are in sync with another being. Your words flow in a state of grace, dancing together almost as one. Rosetree would call that "Joining In Spirit" or "Holding a Space," two skills she teaches empaths to do deliberately. (We already do it unconsciously.) This is an important part of "making it conscious," another of my recommendations to sensitives working to stabilize their empathic ability. The key is doing it on purpose, not by default. That's what gets overwhelming about being empathic. The difference is between being a "natural" empath and a "skilled" empath. And it's a big one.

Rosetree also describes many different types of empathy, which is helpful if you're looking to better understand your gifts. Another particularly useful chapter is the one on grounding, which I believe is critical for a sensitive soul to master. See also my August 2004 e-zine's Tips for Sensitive Souls called, "Get Grounded."

I give the book four stars.

Book available from ->

On the Blog

The Chameleon Conundrum
Chocolate Cake Metaphors
Intuitive Living
Are You a "Contradictory" Sensitive Soul?
Resources for Empaths

Tips for Sensitive Souls
Flowing Water Creates Flow

Water is a balancing element for sensitives. It calms our emotions, grounds and centers us, and helps protect us from outside influences. I made a small fountain in my office, to keep emotion flowing through my space rather than remaining stuck in it. This way, I don't have to do all the work of holding the space for the feelings that come up with clients.

How to Make a Simple Indoor Fountain

Materials needed: A ceramic bowl of approximately 3 inches deep by 12 inches in diameter; a pump (I used a Beckett Small Submersible 60 GPH Fountain Pump from; lots of rocks and flat stones; some short sections of flexible vinyl tubing (about 6 inches each of ¼-inch, 3/8-inch, and ½-inch ID tubing -- ID means "inside diameter"); and optional decorations or plants like moss and ferns. Since I bought only the bowl and pump, my cost was around $40. I collected obsidian rocks, which are also good for emotional protection, near Mt. Shasta in the national forest area where rock collecting is permitted.

Set up the bowl by filling it with water and putting in the pump. It may spray water when you plug it in, so be ready to unplug it. Plug it in and adjust the flow control to create a low flow. Then stack your stones around in the bowl. You can use the tubing to direct the water flow to a certain spot, and create a stream if you like. I ended up not using tubing, and instead directed the pump upwards toward a rock so the water trickles off the underside. You'll probably want to play around and rearrange the rocks for a while to create a sound you like. Then add decorative objects and plants. I used spider plants, trimmed off a few of the sections that hung down, and placed them into the water at the edge of the bowl. You can periodically drain the water using a length of tubing and replace it with fresh water, since the rocks aren't fixed in place. I add fresh water every week. Make sure you have a grounded outlet to plug it into, and you're set. Enjoy!

Recommended resource: Simple Fountains, by Dorcas Adkins.
Book available from ->



The Art of
Sensitive Living
July 2005 Contents

feature article

on my nightstand

on the blog

tips for
sensitive souls

upcoming events

web site resources

other events

embrace your essential self through coaching


Upcoming Events

Monday, July 18
5 p.m. PDT
(No walk on July 4)
Berkeley Sensitive Souls Walking Group

Thursday, July 21
11 a.m. PDT
TeleGathering for Sensitive Souls
A free gathering with like-minded souls.
Third Thursdays of the month.
Sign up
for details and announcements.

Thursday, August 18
4 p.m. PDT
TeleGathering for Sensitive Souls


Web Site Resources

The Embrace Your Essential Self Program

Other Services

Five-Star Products for Sensitive Souls


Recommended Reads


Calendar of Events

Centering for
Sensitive Souls


Other Events

Pacific Northwest HSP Gathering Retreat
August 27 to 31
Whidbey Institute,
Clinton, Washington

Elaine Aron
at Omega
Rhinebeck Campus

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive in a Not-So-Sensitive World
September 23 to 25


A Call for Assistance

What would you LOVE to see written about in this e-zine? What are your burning questions and curiosities? Your feedback is welcome and desired. Please e-mail me your thoughts or ideas for future issues. Please be advised that I will be unable to answer your questions directly, though you may request an e-mail consultation if you're interested.

E-mail Jenna: ->
E-mail consultations: ->


Embrace Your Essential Self Through Coaching

Are you ready to stop seeing your sensitivity as a flaw and start living the intuitive, guided life that is your birthright?

Call me at 510.528.1696 to schedule a complimentary
half-hour phone consultation. We'll talk about whether my Embrace Your Essential Self coaching program would be right for you.

Here's what one person said about my program:

"After many years of trying to find my ‘essential self’ I have finally found someone who not only helped me locate her but is also teaching me to love and respect her valuable wisdom.

This gentle process of discovering myself is much better and more effective then the years of therapy I have tried. . . . I am looking forward to realigning my life in the direction God originally wanted me to go in. . . .

As a mother of a 2-year-old, my days are a constant frenzy of activity that are centered on my child's needs. I'm always left exhausted and not wanting any human contact. . . .Now I see the value of taking care of my needs as a sensitive, so I can be a better parent, wife, and spiritual being. I am finding that as I follow Jenna's recommendations I have more energy for my husband and the things that are essential to my wellbeing.

This is my greatest gift - I am starting to find the joy in living and loving."

-- N.T., from North Carolina


Thanks for reading!

From time to time, I provide links or make recommendations about books and services I find useful. In some cases I earn commissions on these recommendations, such as from and Centerpointe; more often I do not.

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