In this episode of Wellspringwords: The Podcast, Nkem chats with fellow writer, solo traveler, and good friend Amara Amaryah about living a slow and soft life. That is, living a life of wonder, self-compassion, and internal strength. They dive into topics from hypersensitivity to artistry, all through the lens of living softly. As a poet, Amara shares her journey of moving from being motivated by fear to create to being motivated by presence, wonder, and love. Enjoy this conversation between friends, artists, and world travelers, and let us know if it brought anything to mind or heart for you in a podcast review, on Instagram, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be well!
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The piece Amara wrote for Wellspringwords last year
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Nkem and Amara connected in July of 2021 through their mutual friend Ash Alves (Nkem recently held an IG Live with Ash on writing to find your inner power). Both Amara and Nkem were in Mexico and instantly connected. However, Amara’s journey before arriving in Mexico is just as important to this conversation as her ongoing journey of soft living. Amara came from first working in the extremely rigorous and target-oriented field of recruitment. Knowing that was not for her, she soon after moved to digital marketing, which was less demanding in some ways, but still saw her climbing the corporate ladder. While this role fulfilled the societal expectations we all knew too well of having financial stability, it hardly touched Amara’s soul. Eventually, she made a full departure from her corporate life and listened to her inner calling, moving to Mexico and leaving behind her hyper online and societally dictated lifestyle.
Amara took a step that most of us know we should take but struggle to find the courage to do: listening to our inner calling. There comes a time in our lives when we evaluate what is serving us and what isn’t. For some of us, that inner assessment happens often, while for others it can be due to a rare but life-changing epiphany. When Amara finally gave in to what she had been inching towards all this time, traveling and slowing down, she felt a freedom unlike any other. For her, this meant teaching and having more space to write, accepting an unconventional life led by spirituality instead of goals placed on her by society, and working while still serving her inner purpose.
Listening to your inner calling often sounds like a wonderful step to take theoretically, but when reality sets in, the pressure of societal conditioning we’ve faced since our first breaths out of the womb can become daunting obstacles on what we wish could be a smooth path to a truly fulfilled life. Taking the steps to move away from what we’ve known and are comfortable with can be painful when we have no idea what’s coming next. This is where self-compassion comes into play. One insightful conversation with the inner self won’t necessarily cause a huge life shift, and that’s okay! It’s really about giving ourselves the space to understand ourselves and what adds to and takes away from our lives. Ask yourself: Am I doing things in a way that is optimal for myself in this lifetime?
If the answer is no, it’s time to make a change. When we realize we don’t have to move in the way that society expects us to, we realize we have a choice, though it may not always feel that clear. Nkem has found that in leading a non-linear life, she goes through high highs and low lows that give her a deeper sense of fulfillment, but also experiences periods of questioning everything. When you’re connected to your inner self but perhaps living in a highly conditioned paradigm, that’s a part of life. You may feel confident and content one month and wonder if you’re doing everything wrong the next. Those moments can be the hardest to see through but that’s when it’s most important to lead with love and be gentle with yourself. We have got to break the habit of kicking ourselves when we’re down and instead just listen while the thoughts and feelings, however heavy and abnormal they may feel, move through us. From this space, we can begin to transition to a paradigm that aligns with our inner systems.
On the topic of being soft with ourselves, Nkem and Amara, two highly sensitive beings, are familiar with both sensitivity as softness and sensitivity as a negative attribute. Amara thought being sensitive as a kid meant that people had to be delicate and careful around her, which can be an absolute nightmare for an independent Aquarius woman as she is. In fact, as women, our sensitivity is constantly weaponized against us instead of being recognized as a strength in the current paradigm. When will the patriarchy realize that we all have to hit the emotional gym, too? Over the years, Amara has reclaimed her sensitivity and softness through journaling and exploring herself. Now, Nkem and Amara bond over being present and tapped into every situation, which allows them to respond to people and conflict in a loving and caring way. Of course, it still comes with its lows of intense overthinking and hyper-feeling but they also know to treat those waves by taking breaks and putting the thoughts down without reprimanding themselves. Creating space for ourselves is a habit like any other, but with baby steps and a gentle mindset, we can all get to a place where we truly believe we deserve to be treated with kindness – even and especially by our own minds!
Being a highly sensitive person also means getting good at grounding yourself, which can take form in breathing exercises and daily rituals. Thankfully, we all know how to breathe, but real, deep breathing that allows oxygen to flow abundantly through the whole body needs a moment for itself – some intentional time and space away from the other elements of the day. When we’re anxious and tense, our bodies go into a sympathetic nervous system response, shortening our breath, focusing our vision, removing our hunger, and keeping us hyper-alert. And now more than many of us have experienced before, our bodies and minds are being bombarded with reasons to remain perpetually in flight, fright, freeze, or faint. That is, until we take the deserved and necessary time and space to center ourselves and remember our softness. A few intentional deep breaths go a very long way. Our physical bodies and our emotions are completely intertwined, so reclaiming our power in just our breathing helps reclaim the power in our minds. For those who are highly sensitive or emotionally sensitive (and really for everyone), Nkem advocates for energy clearing rituals to downregulate the nervous system. When clearing unwanted and foreign energies from your system, remember to root yourself in love and true belief, rather than the fear of being attacked or unprotected. Check out episode 2 of this podcast for a deeper discussion on emotional sensitivity.
Another big part of this journey of listening to yourself and moving towards your purpose is recognizing your escape mechanisms. Amara’s escape mechanism was traveling, even if it was last minute or she didn’t have the funds, but it was really just a sign that she was unhappy at work and traveling was what she was meant to be doing. Traveling isn’t for everyone, though, and while that is Amara’s inner calling for the moment, everyone has a unique and special path. For you, that might mean doing the inner and community work at home and letting the movement and changes of life meet you where you are. At the end of the day, it’s about listening to your gut and staying true to that, especially when you meet challenging moments. The difficult steps are often the most rewarding, we just have to see them through and trust that what is meant to be will be.
If you want to get to know Amara’s writing or continue this conversation with her, find her on Instagram here.