Each and every one of us is covered in a thick, complex, tangled web of fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that sits under your skin and on top of your muscles. On anatomy diagrams, fascia looks like the off-white strings and planes that sit on top of or in lines up and down the muscles. It provides structure and support, helps transport nutrients, helps regulate nervous system as well as hormone and immune function, helps keep you hydrated, helps you maintain a healthy youthful appearance to the skin, and much much more. “Bad” forms of fascia, called fascial adhesions (which most people are covered in) are also known as “scar tissue” because it is considered fibrotic tissue.
If your fascia is “bad”, you will see it or feel it. You’ll feel achy, sore, tight, tired, overweight or unshapely, with limited range of motion. Not only can you feel it under your skin with your fingers, you can also see it with the naked eye — constriction or restriction, bulges, tightness, lumps and bumps, thick skin/”big boned”, cellulite, crepey skin, and asymmetry are all possible fascial distortions. You see, fascia is like a mesh web that gets too thick or tight in certain areas, which affects how the fat cells settle and how the skin appears.
In addition to the physiological roles fascia plays, fascia also keeps your secrets. It collects your memories. It remembers your joys, but largely it stores your traumas. It forces you to live in the pain of the past instead of being able to be present in the moment. Your fascia has kept a record of every time you misused your body, forcing it into bras and cinchers, too-tight jeans, or awkward shoes — and why you did so. It also remembers how often — and to which degree — you’ve smiled, laughed or cried, winced, squinted, questioned, tensed, quieted, forced, sat or walked. It’s the literal, tangible mind-body connection and it is the record keeper of you.
In Body Readings, I highlight the areas you have “bad” fascia and interpret the meaning so you can understand the core wounds and life lessons you have been given. It’s extremely helpful because it decodes who you are, what you have been through, and why you feel or act the way you do now. And it also provides you with solutions so you can actually fix your fascia once and for all.
But did you know there is a connection between your fascia and your seven energy centers, called chakras?
Your fascia tells us which chakras are blocked and which need to be opened or activated.
It’s pretty simple, actually — fascial adhesions create a density that does not allow for proper blood flow, nutrient transport, hydration, movement of muscles and joints, and more. It also stores bad energy and blocks good energy from entering the chakras. The chakras are nothing more than centers on the body where intense physiological activity occurs 24/7: the sex organs, the intestines and stomach, the heart, the thyroid, the brain. Imagine if over those centers of activity there was a thick mesh choking out nutrients, blood flow, oxygen, hormone fluids, and more to the areas. Would you be healthy or would you gradually become symptomatic?
Remember, fascia responds to emotional and lifestyle cues so the fascial adhesions you have built up are no mistake. They are the record keeper of what has happened to you or how you have felt about it.
But fascia is tricky. It doesn’t stay put in one area. It sprouts tentacles and “grows”. The original area that was affected (your throat, thyroid, or voice box area in the case of fifth chakra problems/thyroid disease) soon spreads it’s adhesions to nearby areas affecting them as well. It’s no mistake, for example, that myxedema (thickening of the face, limbs, or other areas of the body) is a known hypo/hyperthyroidism symptom.
It goes like this:
Throat / voice box -> neck -> head -> shoulders -> upper back -> chest -> stomach
The picture above outlines the areas I have seen the most fascia for those with forms of hypothyroidism (including Hashimoto’s Disease). This is most usually caused by holding back your true voice (whether literally — altering your voice to sound more likable or “soft”, or choking back words and tears because you don’t think they will be accepted). Again, you may think one would only have fascial adhesions directly over the thyroid gland but as you can see, it spreads.
This is just a general guideline, though, because everyone’s fascial adhesions will vary according to what they have experienced in life. You can easily “test” yourself at home to see if the problematic areas above are affecting you. First, try this in front of a full-length mirror completely naked. Where do you see a thickening of skin? Where do you see bulging? Which areas are asymmetrical? Then tune into how you feel — where do you feel tightness or pain?
Next, you can try the pinch test. Can you “pinch an inch” as they say? Meaning, can you grab a tiny amount of skin at any one area on your body or is there a large mass of tissue that cannot be easily separated from the skin? That’s not just fat — that is dysfunctional fascia. You can do this all over but especially on the front and back areas where the chakras are located (ex: front and back of the neck).
Like the picture above illustrates, you are likely to have thickening of fascia on the throat and neck, face, shoulders, arms, forehead, and then over your heart and stomach organ. They are all connected because they originate at the throat or voice box. It’s no accident that many with hypothyroidism have vocal chord or swallowing disorders — you are feeling pain from your throat down into your shoulders, chest, and stomach — but because it is layered under other pain, you may not be consciously aware of it. It requires a process of identification and then a lengthy foray into myofascial release (where you get rid of bad fascia and restore the healthy fascia) to improve your thyroid health but also eliminate pain and dysfunction in other areas of the body.
Everything is connected.
For the last seven years, I have primarily been working with women with thyroid and autoimmune conditions get to the root of their health conditions with tailored, optimized nutrition.
However, the last couple of years, I began noticing many of my clients were dealing with so much emotional stress and this stress was actually a root cause of their physical problems. In fact, they weren’t just stressed – they had a certain personality type and had no idea. They weren’t just stressed, depressed, anxious — they were empathic and were being controlled and left powerless in their lives. So I began offering spiritual services to help people overcome these stressors. And it worked.
I’ve become so interested and engrossed in researching this personality type and helping those who are born empathic because I see how healing it is to one’s physical health when a person understands themselves on a deeper level.
So today I bring to you an interview I recently had with someone who has been on this empathic path for quite some time and who has also noticed how much stress affects people who are highly sensitive.
So let me introduce to you Dave Markowitz. Dave is an empath and intuitive and has been working with highly sensitive souls for many years, helping them achieve better health, vitality, and spiritual awareness.
He is the author of several books, including Healing with Source, Self-care for the self-aware: a guide for highly sensitive people, empaths, intuitives, and healers, and Empathipedia. Dave has lectured with Deepak Chopra and Gary Null and he also gets empaths and their unique struggles.
Tune in here to hear us speak about empaths, absorbing other people’s energy and problems, a victim mentality, the ego, narcissism, health challenges and their root causes, spirituality and more!
Empaths have a completely different operating system from the rest of the world. They process things primarily through the right, creative, emotional brain whereas the dominant system on Earth up until now has been the opposite left-brained, strategic, less emotional thinking. (Remember, empaths only make up approximately 15-20% of the population).
People who are empathic also operate under different assumptions than the rest of the world. We expect the best from others, get disappointed when they don’t live up to our expectations, desire compassion, seek to help, believe intention is more valuable than visible actions alone, want to meet others’ needs, and process information through our bodies and hearts rather than just the mind. While these are positive traits, they also cause empaths to run a high risk for burnout, fatigue, methylation problems (stress uses up nutrients), hormonal imbalances, and immune dysregulation.
This is because empaths are constantly draining their own energy to send to others, even if others are not able to reciprocate, and even if others are not energetically sensitive and therefore cannot feel our good intentions. We are stubborn and think if we just keep trying, someone will get it.
In fact, many empaths have a servant energy archetype in which they have learned from early on that the way to love others (and hopefully get that love reciprocated) is to constantly be of service to them, in denial of their own needs.
An unawakened empath may spend an entire lifetime doing this without realizing they have another option. Take, for example, the mother who primarily shows her love through cooking the meals, dishing out the hugs and words of encouragement, cleaning up the messes, and doing the emotional labor to constantly mentally prepare for what could come next, keeping lists of what needs to be done, and keeping things afloat because she knows no one else will step up. How many mothers, grandmothers, and caretakers in your life come to mind?
While beautiful, it is a one-sided energy trap that we need to get out of for our health and healing. Because deep down, even that mother sometimes gets resentful that no one offered to help. Or she sometimes gets overwhelmed with so many responsibilities. Sometimes she would like to sit down and take a break, but that isn’t an option because the assumption has always been that she is the reliable one, she is independent enough to do it on her own, no one else can do what she does, and she can handle this by herself.
My job as a coach is to encourage you but it is also to tell you the truth so you can stop the cycles of stress and sickness that you didn’t know were affecting you. So here’s the truth: your assumptions are burning you out. Your assumptions are draining your energy — figuratively and quite literally. I see it over and over again with clients.
In order to keep your energy for yourself, in your body and soul where it belongs so you can find total healing, you have to make peace with these assumptions. This doesn’t mean that because someone doesn’t reciprocate their energy that they’re a terrible person and you cut them off. It means you accept that you two operate differently and stop expecting them to “get it” or send the good energy back. It means you may need to stop wanting to go deeper with this person, or find boundaries in your life. You deserve to give to others because it feels good to you, but also to find people who are capable of allowing you to receive. If one person cannot do this, it’s okay and the sooner you make peace with that, the quicker you’ll stop the energy drain and find people who understand the basics of energy.
The biggest assumptions that are causing empathic burnout:
- “They will see my good intentions”. Though we all communicate through the written word and spoken language, empaths also infuse unseen energetic intention into these two forms of communication. In other words, empaths often communicate in a third way — hidden, less-than-precise, or less-than-direct. We intrinsically understand someone else’s intention even when they do not actually communicate it. So we believe others are doing the same for us. This just isn’t true. Remember that others may not be able to get gut instincts about your intention so you have to literally say or do these things so they get it. You have to be very clear with what you say in important situations because your good intentions may not be picked up by the receiving party, which can leave you frustrated, questioning yourself, and disheartened. Be clear, be direct, be honest. Other people need this just as much as you do. I believe this is one reason empaths have largely been resigned to a subordinate role — we have to actually show people our worth because they won’t feel it. This will help you feel less misunderstood or overlooked which will save you tons of stress.
- “I sent my good energy so they will reciprocate.” This is very similar to the above. For example, I was an acquaintance of a very left-brained logical woman who was also very friendly. Every time we tried to speak, however, it seemed like we were speaking two different languages. She dyed her hair, and I noticed and liked it a lot and told her, “I like your hair! It’s different!” To which she replied with a snippy condescending defense, “Different is good, right?” The irony was, the color she dyed her hair was close to my natural hair color — surely she would see I wasn’t being catty, right? But I realized she couldn’t read my good energy and to a left-brained logical thinker, telling them something is “different” is a really bad thing. For me as a right-brained creative thinker, I thought I was giving her the highest compliment but it wasn’t received that way. There was too much left up for interpretation because she couldn’t read energy, and that caused tension in the relationship. My assumption was good energy for good energy but that isn’t always the case. Instead of internalizing that, I made peace with it because I know I had good energy towards her. Let go of the expectation for reciprocated energy because you may never get that from people and until you do, you’ll stay stressed, resentful, and frustrated.
- “Someone will come to my rescue.” Because many empaths have an attachment wound, in which they have been taught they have to work hard to get love from external sources, they do not believe they are capable of rescuing themselves. When times get tough, we continue to seek external sources of support and love. You are fully capable of helping yourself, no matter what comes your way. The expectation that someone else will save you in your time of need is not helpful because many people will not. They lack the attentiveness or compassion. Some people will, though, especially if you are surrounded by great people. But you have to release the expectation because first, it prevents you from doing the “life lessons” yourself (which you are here to do), and secondly, it generates anger towards others which will keep you sick. One day we will all be able to act in a community-oriented mindset and see what is good for one is good for the whole, but until that time, let it go.
- “I am the only one who can do this.” Because empaths often have a servant mentality, we take the brunt of the load in life by ourselves and get trapped under huge amounts of stress as a result. You want so desperately to help and save everyone because you see how much you have needed it yourself. As I said above, there may not be anyone coming to rescue you from the problems. In some cases, this is necessary so you can learn the lesson fully. But, that doesn’t mean you have to take the burden of responsibility for other people’s concerns by yourself. If it is not your own obligation, let it go. If you are already overwhelmed, sick, or stressed, remember that if others need something, they are capable of taking some of the responsibility for themselves. You can still help if they want it, but you don’t have to do it all for them.
- “If I explain myself, they will understand.” As I said above, empaths and left-brained thinkers communicate and understand the world in entirely different ways. Empaths infuse their unspoken energy and intention into every interaction, whether in person or through the written word. Because of this, we often feel there is an assumption that we have to do our own P.R. work to explain how we work to others. It becomes exhausting to try to get people to understand us. Here’s what you want to remember: those who are interested will ask, listen, and process. Those who are not will jump to conclusions, take things the wrong way, or dismiss you. Do not chase them when they show you their intention here. Understanding can only come from a desire from within. You cannot make someone have a desire to understand.