A lot of the clients who come to me are empaths -- people who have a gift for intuitive insight into the feelings of others. Basically, they can feel what others are feeling. Often, they come to me with one or more physical ailments, or anxiety or depression. Usually, it's related to their being an empath, and to the wear and tear on their energy, psyche and body that happens if this intuitive gift isn't managed or taken care of properly.
If you're reading this, chances are that you or someone you love is an empath. How do you know for sure? Here are some clues.
Are You An Empath?
Empaths are people who have a gift for intuitive insight into the feelings of others. You not only understand what others are feeling, you may often feel it as well, taking on their physical pain and emotional suffering.
You are almost always a good listener. Other people, even complete strangers, seem to sense this and tend to open up to you and tell you their life stories and their problems.
Sad books and movies probably make you cry, may even leave you convulsed in sobs.
You probably avoid conflict like the plague, because you can feel the discomfort of the other person, and it makes the situation too complicated and too intense to bear. You may have a particularly hard time ending relationships.
You may be very sensitive to sensory input, easily getting over-stimulated by sight, sound, or smell.
Crowds may make you feel drained.
Others may think of you as shy, moody, or introverted.
Others may sometimes get exasperated with you for being "too sensitive."
Both a Gift and a Challenge
This deep understanding of and insight into other peoples' emotions is an intuitive or psychic gift. It's a beautiful intuitive facility to have, although often people with this ability don't even realize that it's a gift. They think it's normal. But if you're an empath, you're wired differently than others. It's truly a special capability.
And, it requires special self-care. Just as an athlete takes special care of her or his body, or a singer takes special care of her or his voice, you need to manage and protect your abilities. Because in many cases your ability to sense the emotions of others can wear you out. Too often empaths feel like little ships being tossed around in a big storm of emotions. Literally feeling the suffering of others much of the time --being like a sponge for it -- can be very draining. For many empaths, it eventually becomes too much to handle in their physical bodies, and the stress may manifest itself as exhaustion, anxiety, depression, or physical illness.
Care and Feeding of the Empath
So what do you do to manage and support your empathic gift? You'll need to do two things.
First, recognize that you are one, and come to terms with your uniqueness and the fact that you have special needs. (If you're still not sure, here's a test.)
Second, learn some strategies and skills. Read on for useful energetic techniques, a refresher on belly breathing, and empath self-care strategies for keeping yourself in good shape energetically, physically and emotionally.
Energy Techniques for the Intuitive Feeler
Here are two energetic techniques that you can use to stabilize and protect your energy field. The trick is not to shut out the energy of everyone and everything else. Rather, you want to learn to be in control of what you let in, instead of being at the mercy of your sensitivities.
For many people, one of these techniques will work better than the other. Try them both and see which feels best.
The Zip Up
This is a technique from Donna Eden. It's like zipping on an energetic coat or cape to protect you from taking on the emotions and other energies of other people.
It works with the central meridian, the energy pathway that runs up the centerline of your torso. It governs your central nervous system. The central meridian can act like an antenna that channels other people's feelings/thoughts/energies into you, but you can use the subtle energies of your hands to "zip it closed." Doing this will help you feel more confident and positive, think more clearly, tap your inter strengths, and most importantly, protect you from other peoples' emotions and energies.
To do it:
Place your hand or hands at the bottom of the central meridian, which is at the top of the pubic bone, palm(s) facing your body.
Take a deep comfortable breath and simultaneously move your hand/hands up the centerline of your body, to your lower lip. You can do this with your hand/s on your physical body, or a few inches away from it.
Repeat three times.
The Shield of Light
The Shield of Light will help to shore up your energetic boundaries, keep the emotions of others at bay, clear your energy field, and give you more breathing room, energetically and psychologically.
Imagine yourself surrounded by a cocoon of light, all around your body like an egg, about 2-4 inches away from your body. (This is your energy field, in a contracted state.)
Bring your elbows close to your sides, palms facing outward. Breathe in deeply, and with the outbreath, slowly push your hands outward, visualizing/imagining/feeling that you are pushing or spreading the light outward.
Go slowly, and you may feel the pressure of your field as you push against it. As you push, visualize that your field as it expands is also gently pushing out any energy that is "not of you," including any unwanted emotions, energy, or thoughts -- especially those that belong to other people.
Take several breaths like this, pushing your light out with the outbreath, until the light (your field) feels the right size. If your physical arms aren't long enough, use your expanded "energy arms."
Then put your arms down and take a few more breaths, enjoying the feeling of lightness, spaciousness, peace and clarity.
Belly breathing is great for everyone, but especially important for an intuitive feeler. It clears your field, grounds you to your own body and emotions, centers you, and helps relieve anxiety and restore vitality. Here's how.
Most of us breathe rapidly and shallowly, into our chests. Practice slowing down your breathing, and breathing into the lower third of your lungs. Your belly should rise as you inhale, and fall as you exhale. ( If you get light-headed, go back to your regular pattern of breathing until you feel normal again.)
Try to incorporate at least five minutes a day of this kind of breathing into your life. Also do it when you're feeling tense, anxious or stressed, or just whenever you think of it. It's always good for you.
Lifestyle Modifications for Empaths
Here are some "life-style modifications" that you can employ to maximize your gifts and minimize the wear and tear on yourself. There are more ideas on the Basic Energy Self-Care page. Implement as many of them as you can.
Avoid toxic people and people who manufacture a lot of tragedy and crisis in their lives. As much as possible, hang out with people who are stable, optimistic and upbeat.
Avoid heart-wrenching movies and books, and TV news, which is deliberately created to jerk our emotions around. You are not being irresponsible or unfeeling if you aren't intimately familiar with the suffering going on at every place around the world. You feel enough pain already. There's no need to go seeking it out.
Spend lots of time in nature. Plants, especially, are good buffers for our emotions.
Most empaths need to spend lots of time alone. People who you're intimate with need to understand that your need for solitude isn't personal. You just need it.
Malls, airports, and other crowded places usually zap your energy. Avoid them when you can, plan for it when you can't. When you go out in public, try to keep your energy stable and "up." Try to keep your thoughts on positive things.
Conflict is inevitable in life. You'll never like it, but you'll be better off if you learn some tools for managing it. Go to a counselor, read a book or take a class to learn some conflict skills that work for you.
If you're in a helping profession such as teaching, healing, coaching or counseling (as many empaths are), it's particularly important that you learn to manage your energy. If not, you can easily be overwhelmed in such professions.
Keep at least one area of your house and/or garden uncluttered and orderly, so that you can go there and rest in a place or calm, orderliness and peace.
Judith Orloff, M.D., writes a lot about intuitive empaths. Here's a link to her website, also full of good information. http://www.drjudithorloff.com/
I also liked this sites: theknowing1.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/at-a-glance-30-traits-of-an-empath/
Take care of your beautiful gift -- take care of yourself.
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