You’re on the Playa, and you’re spotted by that same person from last year! They beeline right for you, and already at 15 feet away they’ve started talking. Every bone in your body says, “Oh No! Not them.” You have a moment of feeling bad or judgmental – it’s just, you feel trapped when they’re around you. When you’re near them you can’t make a smooth exit, or you find yourself doing something you just don’t want to do- overall you feel exhausted and drained just being near them. Dun Dun Dun – Energy Vampire. I find this term pretty self explanatory, it’s a person who drinks your energy like a vamp would drink your blood – leaving you vulnerable, irritated, and tired, and that’s if you can find an exit. I mean everyone needs-a-little takes-a-little, but I’m talking about that person who takes all you have to give and wants more and more and more. We all know them, and it’s not even just on the Playa! We’ve all seen that person.
What do I do!?
When I was at a conference as a teenager, I created a “Help me!” signal. If I started moo-ing my friends would come whisk me away from a particularly intimidating and vampiric woman. Now as a grown adult, although I do believe in asking for help, I aim to navigate those uncomfortable situations through my integrity. My integrity lies in taking every opportunity and turning it into a moment for creating and expanding love. Not romantic or fluffy love but real tangible, honest, life-changing love. Understanding that we aim to be radically inclusive, it seems like we should want to engage them and yet they create a feeling that our time or space is being hijacked. We don’t want to be mean, hurt anyone’s feelings, or encourage unsafe feelings/environments and maybe you think they are lonely and you want to heal them. Regardless of your positive intentions, we can play the hardest and with the most abandon on a safe playground. It is our responsibility to create that safety by communicating our boundaries.
How does one turn life-force sucking into love making!?
Boundaries are the name of the game. Verbal, physical, energetic – which aren’t separate but different faces of the same boundary. So let’s take a look at the mechanisms of creating safe and fun space for yourself. Compassionate communication is a gift – especially if it’s uncomfortable and honest. Now that is the foundation for some good love making!
1. Make Your Aura Strong
- Pre-emptively: Perform grounding and aura strengthening techniques.
- In the moment: Here’s a visualization exercise to strengthen your energy field in just a few breaths. Practice this process a few times before you are on the Playa so it’s familiar to you. Once you know them, you’ll have these techniques available to aid you in the moment; do the process below 3 times.
- Take some space. Move so no one is touching you.
- Place feet or tail bones on the ground or a solid surface.
- Take 3 deep breaths.
- Visualize your aura. Do a scan and see its shape.
- Connect to the brightest most pure light inside you.
- Breathe clean, bright light into that spot until it fills your body and then creates a perfect bright, glowing egg shape about a ½ foot to a foot off your body.
- Imagine or feel all that is loving, healthy, and grounded in you and recognize what is not. Watch as the the light cleanses and releases all the shiny particles of raw, formless energy that aren’t yours while gathering and strengthening all that is yours.
- Sense your aura again and integrate it with this strong and fresh energy field. Allow 3 breaths. CONGRATS on a clean and healthy aura!
- Open your mouth and speak your truth compassionately for all!
2. Physically – Determine Your Space
It is totally fair and loving to remove someone’s hands from your body if they cause you to feel uncomfortable. I would recommend verbally first – if they don’t immediately stop touching you – remove the point of contact. Many Energy Vampires are known for their “affections”: rubbing shoulders, arms, holding onto clothing, hand-holding. All of these things are awesome but only if you want them. If you don’t like the way you are being touched – stop it. Repeat after me. “Stop.”
3. Speak Up For Yourself
If there is a feeling, physical contact, or course of action at hand that you just don’t want to be part of, speak up. Repeat after me, “No. Stop. Not in my camp.”
Boundaries are freeing because they create safety. When they are imposed from an outside source they can create oppression. We all know that Burning Man is a place where the patriarchal overhang is attempting to be lifted, and there is an experience of great freedom. It immediately becomes our responsibility to stand up for ourselves and create and maintain own safe boundaries so that our freedom at the Burn is respected.
How we state what we need can make a difference. Accusing someone of being creepy or silently treating them as such is different than a statement about personal preference. Here is a few radical options for verbal communication:
Try being direct and to the point saying, “When you touch me I feel uncomfortable. I don’t want you to rub my shoulders. Thank you for not touching me. I can only hang out with you in short intervals of time.” The mad libs version goes like this: “When you _______ I feel_______. Please do (or do not) ________. Thank you for doing [make this a tangible measurable thing] ___________.” This can be a bigger gift than just removing yourself or sugar coating it.
If you really want to give a gift you could offer a conversation with an invitation for more feedback. This could be a dangerous move – potentially setting you up for the perfect teeth sink – but with clean boundaries it could be the most compassion this person has ever been offered. You could say, “You know I don’t enjoy this interaction – I actually want to leave just because of how I feel being near you – I would be willing to share my experience and how I am feeling, would you like to hear me out?” This could be a radical moment for them. They can say yes and then ignore all you share, or it may be the first time someone has stopped and given them the love to share honestly instead of avoiding awkward situations. Some people won’t go for the feedback in which case – don’t hesitate to state your boundaries, without judging them.
Energy Vampires are a dangerous being that can affect us all both on and off-playa. When you are an open, compassionate and free person, energy vampires can flock to you- hoping to take advantage of your good natured, care-taking abilities. Although we all want to be helpful and friendly, especially at Burning Man, we do not have to sacrifice our personal comfort or emotional energy for an un-reciprocating and draining individual. Set your boundaries and speak from the heart!