“Wow!  I didn’t expect this place to be so crowded.”  My longtime friend Naya and I were leaning near the bar, she in her high top leather boots, leggings, and faux fur vest and I in my new black pants with textured top.  She handed me a glass of champagne and raised hers with a sheepish smile, “Happy 50th!”

As she left to find the bartender to get another round I heard a voice above the noise of the bar. "Look at that chick, is she hot or what?  Check out at that body!”  I then hear a female voice say, “Forget about it she has got a ring on her finger.”  “I don’t care what she has on her finger, [calmly].”  He shouts back, “I’m going for it.”

So I turned to get a look at this jerk and spotted a man with high and tight brown hair and a plaid flannel shirt and realized it was Naya he was talking about.  As soon as she returned with our drinks he made a beeline for her and introduced himself.  She replied, “Hi my name is Naya and this is my friend Janine.  We are celebrating her 50th birthday.”

“Oh, yeah, then lets celebrate!  I’ll get us some shots!”  So he ordered three peach schnapps shots, we drank them and he continued to hit on her.  He turned his back to me and when I saw the expression on Naya’s face, I decided I had to do something.  I wanted to stop this guy from hurting either one of us.  And then I stepped between them and said, “Why don't you back off, can't you see she is not interested?

“What’s your problem?”  He added,  “Why don’t you back off?  You are such a…” I don’t need to finish that statement.

I was so shocked by what he said I couldn’t utter a word.  It brought up all these feelings that echoed back to a time in my life when I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused.  I felt helpless and powerless so all I could do was turn and walk away with my head hanging and look for a chair to sit down on.  Naya immediately turned her back on him and came over to see if I was okay.  But by then it was too late.  My birthday had been ruined.  I went home devastated.  And I was reeling from this for days afterwards.

One day I discovered an online radio program by HeatherAsh Amara, author of several books including her best-selling book Warrior Goddess Training:  Become the Woman You Are Meant to Be.  I responded to so many things she was saying, such as how to get your power back, that I signed up for her yearlong women’s program.  Then I realized in the course of her training that so much of the pain I experienced was because I was afraid of ever standing up for myself.

Then she taught a technique that I have been using ever since in situations like the one on my 50th birthday. It's an openhearted practice called shielding.  It helps you during times when you are surrounded by people’s negative or low energies.

We are all energy beings.  And we can use energy to help us stay connected to our heart center.

Surrounding our bodies is an ever-present outer layer of our energetic field...an aura of etheric energy that interacts with our mind, body and spirit.  It surrounds, penetrates and expands beyond our bodies.

We have the ability to project our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual etheric energy onto other people.  For example, someone sexually attracted to another can project their energetic body on to that person without touching them physically.  A similar projection can occur on a mental level.  Our thoughts, whether we do this consciously or unconsciously, can affect other people.  On an emotional level, another person can feel our negative or positive emotions.  And finally, on a spiritual level we can consciously or unconsciously visit another Soul body.

So just as there is inappropriate physical touching, there can be inappropriate energetic touching.  If someone expresses negative emotions; such as anger, neediness, or other unhealthy emotions, those energetic emotions project into our fields.

Although shielding does not remove negativity by others it does give us breathing space from negativity so we can connect with them from our hearts.  Our breath is a powerful tool to help us keep our energy field clear and balanced.  It helps our mind and thoughts stay clear of negative energies so we can stay fully present.  The result is we are better able to take responsibility for what we are experiencing and choose inspired actions for next steps.

Shielding is a simple practice.  In a quiet space settle into a comfortable position sitting down with arms and legs uncrossed.  Feel your feet on the ground and anchor yourself where you are physically.  Take a couple slow and deep breaths.  Breathe in and with your intent, consciously connect with your heart center to gather and intensify the energy surrounding that area.

With each exhalation picture compassionate and loving green energy flow from your heart center and surround your entire body.  Draw on your imagination with full awareness of the energy field around your body.  Imagine this field expanding 18 to 36 inches outward.

You can picture an egg-shaped bubble of energy surrounding you allowing for positive energies to flow freely in and out of the egg.  When negative energies approach, imagine your shield deflecting and flowing these energies toward the earth to become grounded.  Imagine the outer edges of this bubble at least a half inch thick…this is your shield.

By practicing shielding you strengthen your shield so you can be more yourself, coming from the core of your being, which is love, instead of reacting unconsciously.  You re-establish conscious connection to your energetic field and its perimeter that links it to the spiritual world.

This may sound far-fetched but it made a huge difference in my life.  It took some practice but eventually I was able to use this technique to keep things from affecting me deeply and negatively.  Even when memories of when my previous traumas arose I was still able to function instead of being devastated or withdrawn all of the time.

Just a few months later I had an opportunity to put the shielding technique to good use.  My boss West had a reputation of blowing up at his employees.  There were times that I could see the veins in his neck bulging when he laid in to me.

One day I approached him about needing more support to do the job I was hired to do. But his only response was to ask me to meet with him and his boss Whit.  But unlike at my 50th birthday party, now I knew how to prepare for this encounter by strengthening this shield around me before I went into the meeting.

When they began talking, West pretended to be nice and under the pretense of doing me a favor said, “I recall you mentioning you would like to be in another job, so I have this opportunity for you. I'd like to put you in an entirely new position.” Even though I was shocked this time I didn't have to withdraw in silence. "I never told you I wanted a new job, but I do recall asking many times for your support in the job I already got."

This time it was my boss's turn to go silent, because by taking control of the situation, I took away his power to manipulate me.

“Do I have a choice about this, because the job I have is the job I wanted as long as I have support?"  And West started tripping over his words mumbling and all he could respond was, “Well of course you have a choice and if you need some support I’d be glad to give that.”  And I said, “I want to stay right where I am.”  And as soon as I said that his boss got up and left the meeting, realizing there was nothing more to be discussed.

This technique isn't just for dealing with jerks at bars or obnoxious bosses. I sometimes use this whenever I have to give a speech, or when I deal with a pushy sales person, or when I react to a situation versus respond.  So, re-connecting with your energetic field helps open you up so you can be who you are, your authentic self, rather than closing down in difficult situations.  You can come from your heart to respond to a situation rather than react.  If you practice this technique daily, you strengthen your connection to your heart center and empower yourself.  The result is you will live a more balanced and fulfilling life full of joy and happiness.