Certain emotions can be scary because they are a way for you to announce to yourself that what you are feeling is important, that it matters and that it could change everything. You leave the office feeling frustrated and confused. Like Sasha, Celeste, and Margarita, you know that something's wrong. You want to feel vital, focused, energetic, at home in your own body. You want to feel sexy and sensual. And you don't understand why the person you trust to help you with your medical problems has just let you down. So what's going on? Unfortunately, all too often, the approach most conventional practitioners take misses the mark. Many practitioners look at too few hormones. When women struggle with PMS, painful periods, perimenopause, endometriosis, fibroids, or PCOS, most health-care practitioners look at the female sex hormones most immediately responsible for a woman's cycle: estrogen and progesterone. But these tell only part of the story--and often not even the most important part. Then open your eyes and be present and aware. Begin to walk slowly. Walk with ease and dignity. With each step feel all the sensations involved in lifting your foot and leg up from the earth. Be aware as you place each foot back onto the earth. Relax and let your walking be easy and natural. Be mindful of each step. Your mind will wander many times, just as in sitting. As soon as you notice this, acknowledge it, then return to feel the next step.

Whether your mind has wandered for one second or 10 minutes, simply acknowledge this and come back to being aware of the next step you take. An example of an emotion or feeling that is scary could be loving someone for years and then noticing that you don't love them anymore and want to separate, or realizing that you know your true purpose but that you don't want to give up the security of your current profession. It can look like wanting to admit to someone close to you that you find them to be really rude and critical, but being too scared to honor those feelings, even when they hurt you. Our emotional avoidance can lead to a life half-lived, instead of fully lived through our understanding of our feelings and our lack of fear about responding to those emotions. It certainly can take a lot of practice if you are not used to handling your feelings and your life in this way, but it is certainly worth it. All of these challenges are not specific to the empath, but to all people and if you are empathic, then you do well to understand where everyone else is coming from, too: after all, we are all in this together. For the empath, all of these things can be felt more significantly because of how powerful the gift of sensing and feeling everyone else's feelings is, and it can be hard to equate your own feelings with your own experiences versus another person's. The challenges for the empath are more intense and visceral. You are at a heightened level of emotional awareness, which is why it is that much more important to understand your own feelings. Under the surface, there are a lot of ways that you don't even realize how you are taking on unwanted energies and emotions from the surrounding environment and the people in it. You have to know what your skills are so that you can train yourself to be better able to handle all of the sensations, feelings, and situations that will present themselves to you. If you are having problems with any of the conditions I just mentioned, three other hormones are almost certainly involved: Cortisol and adrenaline: stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which get involved every time you face a physical or emotional challenge Insulin: the hormone produced by the pancreas to help move blood sugar into your cells, which gets involved every time you eat a carbohydrate. Without addressing these three hormones, your practitioner probably can't offer you an effective long-term solution. Yet most conventional practitioners don't even consider these hormones when treating female complaints. Many practitioners ignore the hormonal cascade. Your body contains more than 100 hormones and they all communicate with each other. If one hormone is off, it throws off another, and then another, creating a hormonal cascade of interrelated problems and symptoms. A key hormonal cascade begins with cortisol, the stress hormone.

When your adrenals produce either too much or too little cortisol, your other hormones feel it right away, including thyroid (which regulates metabolism), leptin (which regulates fullness), ghrelin (which regulates hunger), insulin (which regulates blood sugar), serotonin (a natural antidepressant that helps you feel calm and self-confident), dopamine (a feel-good hormone that helps you feel excited and energized), and many, many others. At the midpoint of your path, pause for a moment. Center yourself and carefully turn around. Pause again so you can be aware of the first step as you walk back. Walk simply, being truly present for the other half of the walk. At the end of the path, please pause. Try to carry the momentum of your mindfulness into whatever your next activity may be. You can use walking meditation to calm and collect yourself and to live more mindfully in your body. You can extend your walking practice to when you go shopping, whenever you walk down the street, or to or from your car. This practice allows you to enjoy walking for its own sake instead of filling it up with the usual planning and thinking. Wake-up call: anger management What are some of the emotional challenges for the empath? Look at the following list and see if any of these issues resonate with you and your experiences: Defining your personal emotions based on what you are feeling or sensing from someone else Lingering feelings of guilt, shame, lack of self-worth, coming from people around you Depression, anxiety, fear that result in challenges with your home, family and work-life Difficulty connecting to your own feelings at any given moment Partnerships that revolve around the other person's feelings, leaving you empty and emotionally spent Never having time to work through your own feelings because you are always working on someone else's Losing self-confidence over time because of how many people you are connecting to, or energetically absorbing

Beliefs that you are not good at your gifts and skills All of these hormones must work together to produce health, well-being, and vitality, so if your health-care practitioner isn't looking at the hormonal cascade, he or she isn't seeing the whole picture. Many practitioners look at individual hormones rather than overall hormonal balance. Suppose you have high-normal estrogen and low-normal progesterone. Your practitioner is likely to tell you that you're in the normal range and that you have nothing to worry about. You don't understand how that can be because you are still struggling with PMS, painful periods, or the symptoms of perimenopause (memory problems, lack of focus, weight gain, loss of sex drive). What your practitioner has failed to look at is the balance between estrogen and progesterone. Perhaps your high-normal estrogen is too high for your low-normal progesterone. This lack of balance is known as estrogen dominance and it may be responsible for a lot of what you've been feeling. Many practitioners look at symptoms rather than root causes. As a result, they might prescribe either the birth-control pill or an antidepressant, either of which might have some limited effectiveness in relieving your symptoms. Befriend your emotions. Befriend your confused or negative emotions. When one arises, like anger, smile to yourself and mentally note, There's anger again! This is also called corpse pose. You can use a yoga mat, carpeted floor, the bed, a couch--anything comfortable for you. You might find that having a folded blanket or low pillow under your head makes the position more comfortable for your back. Lie down and close your eyes. Let your legs relax and flop out naturally with feet about two feet apart. Arms are also out, palms up, and relaxed away from your sides.

Relax your feet, your calves, your thighs, your hips, your buttocks, your lower back, your abdomen, your middle and upper back, your chest, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your neck. Fear of other people's reactions and trying to placate everyone at the expense of your own power and gift These are only some of the possibilities, and if you are an empath, you may have felt some other ideas spring up as you were reading this list. Emotional mastery is not as hard as it might seem. It is simply a way to help you respond well to any emotion that you may have, whether it is coming from your own experience, or whether you are absorbing another person's feelings because of your highly empathic nature. Emotional intelligence is something we should all be taught in our youth so that we have the best tools to use as adults to help us thrive and enjoy life's highs and lows, without falling into dark depressions, or serious worry. You can learn to master your emotions and gain more emotional intelligence with the following formula: identify, appreciate, understand, awareness, action, and gratitude. Does it seem too simple? That's because it is easier than you, or others, may have led you to believe. There are no secret tricks, just your ability to understand this formula and all it takes is a few moments of practice, and you are on your way to being in charge of your feelings and always available to understanding others as well. Let's break down each component of the emotional mastery formula so that you can see how to engage with each process effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, neither of these medications gets at the root of the problem. Your estrogen and progesterone likely went out of whack because of an imbalance in your cortisol, adrenaline, and insulin levels, which reflect diet, lifestyle, and the stresses in your life. Inflammation and toxicity might also be contributing factors. The pill and antidepressants are just Band-Aids that don't address the problem at the deepest, most helpful level. When addressing symptoms and disorders, it's important to look at what's going on upstream, at the whole matrix of conditions that gives rise to hormonal imbalance and other health issues. This integrated approach allows us to look at antecedents and triggers as well as results. Many practitioners underestimate the crucial impact of diet, lifestyle, and psychology on hormonal balance. After more than two and a half decades of practice, I'm still amazed at the near-miraculous impact of changing your diet. When a woman cuts out sugar, eats more protein and healthy fat, and takes the herbs and supplements her body needs, a myriad of health problems clear up almost immediately.