Types of Boundaries

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: I have had an issue with keeping appropriate boundaries with other people. As a result, others have manipulated me, exploited me, and abandoned me after using me for their agendas. Can you give some advice about restoring and maintaining boundaries?

A: Boundaries are based on the rules you set and the decisions you make about what is an appropriate boundary. If you do not have any rules and you don’t make a decision as to what is appropriate and what is not, your boundaries are permeable, and others can take advantage of you.

First, let’s describe the types of boundaries that you have.

  1. Physical limits or boundaries – These are the rules you have set about touching, sexuality, or harm to your body. This is your zone of physical discomfort and vulnerability.
  2. Vitality limits or boundaries – This is the amount of energy you have available to expend on a project or to carry out the activities of daily living until you must stop what you are doing and rest. This is your zone of endurance, strength, and resilience.
  3. Emotional limits or boundaries – This is your “personal space.” This is the level at which you decide what type of relationship others will have with you, what you are willing to disclose to them, and what feelings you will share with them. This level also includes what you will allow others to say to you—you communicate to them to stop when they are saying something that is offensive, inappropriate, or hurtful. This is the zone of your emotional sensitivity and relationship parameters.
  4. Mental limits or boundaries – This is the field of your current knowledge, intelligence, and skill. This boundary puts a filter on what information you will admit into your awareness. It acts to keep out material that you cannot currently integrate from your unconscious mind. It operates as a valve on the information you will accept from others. This is the zone of your active mindsets through which you engage with the world around you and other people.
  5. Volitional limits or boundaries – This is the range of choices you find morally acceptable and you give yourself permission to do. It gives you the capacity to say “no” to others, when what they propose to you is outside of your ethical guidelines that make up your character, define your Integrity, and set limits on the behavior you will let yourself perform. Once you have defined these moral rules for yourself, you can also set behavioral standards, rules, and policies for the behavior of others that you supervise—for example, children, dependent adults, or co-workers. This is the zone of your moral choice.
  6. Personal limits or boundaries – This comprises your total personal capabilities that enable you to respond to the issues and events of your own life; the coping skills you have to deal with the behavior of others; and the relative risk you are able to tolerate when your situation requires you to change. This is the zone of your human potential, where you can generate personal transformation and life change.
  7. Spiritual limits or boundaries – This is the totality of your consciousness in the Superconscious mind—the relative amount of the unconscious mind behind your Soul, your vehicles of consciousness, and your spirit that you have transformed into light and made conscious. This purification activates your innate love, wisdom, and power, enabling you to express your extrinsic Soul Purpose and share your Soul’s gifts with others. This limit is the boundary between the conscious and unconscious levels of your entire mind. This is the zone of actualization of your Soul’s spiritual evolutionary potentials. Spiritual teachers need to respect others’ spiritual boundaries.

There are five major ways people experience boundaries.

  1. Violated boundaries – You experience this when you have known physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and the perpetrator may or may not continue to breach them. You feel violated, abused, de-valued, used, and abandoned. Your self-esteem is degraded.
  2. Threatened boundaries – You feel discomfort and alarm that someone is trying to violate your boundaries. They may make physical taunts, threats, or engage in sexual harassment. They belittle you and criticize you. You are in a state of vigilance and you actively defend yourself.
  3. Intact boundaries – You feel that you are respected and honored, and believe no one will harm you. You feel safety, trust, and that others care about you.
  4. Expanded boundaries – This is an increased awareness of your potential abilities that occurs when you enter an altered state of consciousness through ingestion of psychoactive substances, or through hypnosis or meditation. You feel euphoria and that you have access to enhanced abilities.
  5. Dissolution of boundaries – This is the experience of ego-death or loss of your sense of Self. You may feel your spiritual essence is merging into its origin; concurrently, your sense of personal identity disappears. You can experience engulfment from the unconscious mind in this state; this leads to psychosis. Alternately, you can experience Mystic Union, or union with the Divine; this grants full spiritual freedom and spiritual empowerment.

Your experience of these five boundary zones has characteristic signs:

Generally, if you have experienced violation of your boundaries, you will benefit from psychotherapy and support from those who have experienced the same traumas that you have. It is essential that you separate yourself from the perpetrator to avoid further harm.

If you are experiencing threatened boundaries, it will be helpful if you learn assertiveness skills, and learn to document and report behavior that is threatening or abusive to those who have the authority and ability to check those who are acting inappropriately.

Intact boundaries are the “sweet spot” of interpersonal relationships. Hopefully you have some relationships in which you can experience unconditional positive regard, support, and respect.

Expanded boundaries give you a glimpse of your higher potential. You must exercise some caution here: Many people attempt to remain in these altered states of consciousness through continued drug ingestion, or staying in a hypnotic trance or union with a spiritual essence in meditation. If you do this, you run the risk of generating hallucinations and delusions, and you can readily slip into a grandiose, manic state, or a defensive paranoid state.

Given that these are highly suggestible states, you can readily come under the control of cult leaders and spiritual teachers that are all too willing to program your values, beliefs, perception, and behavior to their specifications, and completely take over your life. We recommend that if you enter an altered state of awareness, ensure that you return to your grounded, waking state of awareness again.

The state of dissolution of boundaries is the most challenging of states. Repeated assaults on personal boundaries beyond their ability to cope can trigger psychotic decompensation in susceptible individuals. This state can also be triggered when significant spiritual and psychological imbalances occur though using inappropriate meditation techniques. They also appear when well-meaning aspirants trigger Kundalini syndromes tampering with dangerous meditation methods.

Those who are approaching merger with their Divine Ideal (Ishta Devata) must carefully manage their progress unto Beatific Union. A wrong step in these sublime heights can lead to a spiritual fall into nightmarish realms, where they are under perpetual psychic attack and they no longer have any personal boundaries.

To reconstruct your boundaries you must first be clear what levels of your boundaries have been breached. You need to get away from those who continue to violate your boundaries. You must determine what needs to be in place to avoid this boundary being broken in the future, and you need to learn whatever skills you need to protect yourself.

If you are aware that you are currently in the violation of boundaries or threatened boundaries condition in certain areas of your life, you need to do what you must to get to a place where you are safe and respected, and people care about you. If this means you have to move, move. If this means that you have to say goodbye to abusive and dysfunctional people in your life, say goodbye and edit them out of your life. If it means you have to get therapy to heal the wounds these people have wrought in you, get therapy. Do whatever you must to restore your boundaries and regain a state of emotional poise.

If you have been dabbling with altered state of consciousness, make sure you come back down to ground after each experience. Take the time to reflect upon your experiences and integrate them. Avoid fooling around with meditations that you don’t know what they do. Carefully set limits on those who want to reprogram your life to meet their own spiritual agendas, and steer clear of those who ask you to remain in altered states of awareness.

If you follow these general guidelines, you will begin to rebuild your boundaries and experience greater control over who and what you let into your life.

Those of you who grew up in a dysfunctional family or are recovering from an abusive relationship commonly have issues with boundaries. They may find our Dysfunctional Family Coaching Program helpful: it has now been released.

What Holds People Back from Being Able to Meditate?

By George A. Boyd ©2015, updated 2020

There are several issues that hold people back from being able to meditate. These include:

  1. Mental illness or severe physical illness – here you are unable to focus, and can’t think clearly.
  2. Demands of work and family – in this situation, you simply have no time for meditation.
  3. Cultural or religious prohibition – in this scenario, there are prohibitions on doing certain forms of meditation, or the cultural or religious group sees meditation as a pathway to madness or possession by evil spirits.
  4. Addiction – here you are obsessed with the object of your addiction, which largely takes over your life and thought.
  5. Rational or skeptical mindset – You do not enter an altered state of consciousness outside of the logical parameters of brain or physical universe; doubt and skepticism vitiates any inner experience and attributes it to an epiphenomenon of the nervous system or temporary psychosis.
  6. History of religious cultism or religious abuse – Your prior religious involvement has created sufficient personal dysfunction, so that you are frightened to again enter altered states of consciousness through meditation.
  7. Dysfunctional family background – In this case, you are dealing with the sequelae of abuse, trauma, and neglect, and until these issues are handled, it is hard for you to escape the psychological undertow of these issues.

Mental and Physical Illness – Mental illness and physical illness clearly must be controlled to the point that you can meditate: these conditions must be professionally supervised, though some people can find methods that help them get to a point where they are able to meditate. Some actually get help with their physical or mental health condition using prayer and meditation, but they must attain the requisite ability to focus their attention and to think clearly to move beyond the rudiments of relaxation and mindfulness.

Demands of Work and Family – The demands of work and family are a lifestyle issue. Many do not see another option for their overwhelming days; clearly they must find a way to clear up some time through letting go of some commitments and delegating some tasks. For some, getting clear about their priorities and re-creating a life that actualizes their personal potentials assists them to make changes in their lifestyle. For these, we have designed our Life Coaching Program.

Cultural and Religious Prohibition – Cultural and religious prohibition is commonly seen in milieus where there is a dominant religious authority that dictates rules for living and social conduct. These fundamentalist and totalitarian societies attempt to enforce conformity of belief and behavior. You may see it in radical Muslim sects, and in authoritarian sects of Judaism and Christianity; it appears in cultic groups from all religious backgrounds; it is also evident in atheistic Communist regimes, which attempt to constrain religious activity.

Clearly, you must have access to an alternative way of thinking and living. Some escape these totalistic, repressive environments either through emigration or joining an underground group that encourages prayer and meditation.

Addiction – Addiction can become life consuming, and meditation becomes impossible. You must get into recovery if you are to become free from the tenacious grasp of addiction. We offer some support to this group of individuals through our Addiction Recovery Coaching Program, which has now been completed, and is now available. We encourage people dealing with an addiction to find a supportive group to assist them attain and maintain abstinence from their addictive substance or behavior.

Skeptical Mindset – To overcome the self-sabotage of a rational or skeptical mindset, you must have an experience that cannot be explained away with a brain-based axiom. You must verify that there is something outside the scientific worldview to begin to entertain the possibility that you can transcend the brain and visible physical universe, and move into the other dimensional worlds of the Great Continuum. We teach you how to transcend brain-based awareness in our beginning meditation class, the Introduction to Meditation Program; and in intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

Cult Involvement or Religious or Authoritarian Family Issues – Those who have had prior involvement with a religious cult or have had a background in a religious authoritarian family will need to deal with the issues of betrayal and abuse. We provide these individuals a structured way to work through these issues in our Cult Recovery Coaching Program. This program is now available.

Dysfunctional Family Issues – Like those dealing with addiction or cults, those growing up in a dysfunctional family must work through their issues before they are ready to meditate. Many of these will benefit from counseling, therapy, and support groups. We have developed a Dysfunctional Family Coaching Program to help them explore and work through these issues. This program is also now available.

Those who can overcome these hindrances to practicing meditation can make progress in their inner development. Not everyone is able to overcome these challenges, so not everyone is able to meditate—but for those who can, the potential benefits are great, indeed.