Heightened empathy - a double edged sword?
Empathy is a subject that has always fascinated me. It seems to be a trait inherent in all sentient beings to a greater or lesser degree. It is the ability to understand another through feeling what they feel (i.e. stepping into someone else's shoes). Most find it easier to empathise with people who've undergone similar experiences. Some of us however are born with heightened sensitivity to the feelings (or more specifically the emotional body) of others. Are you one of those?...
Someone with strong empathic (aka empathetic) qualities will often experience the emotion of another as their own, often leading to personal confusion as the person experiencing doesn't always know where the emotion has suddenly come from, let alone the fact that it is not their own!
People with this quality are frequently found in caring professions or doing charity work as they feel inclined to help ease the burden of others. They may feel equally inclined to express how 'they' feel though the arts or spend a lot of time in natural environments. An empath is commonly labelled as 'too sensitive', or 'over emotional'. Hardly surprising given the fact that they frequently unconsciously absorb the energy in their surrounding field like a sponge. Given that the world as we know it is not exactly utopia, there is a vast pool of every conceivable feeling an emotion on every high street! It's hardly surprising that empaths often develop coping mechanisms to distract their attention and suppress their feelings.
It must be said though that it is one of the most amazing blessings and gifts that one can experience as a sentient life form. Through personal and direct understanding it invites us to find the depths of compassion within our hearts for all other life forms. Harnessed and unveiled in its authenticity, it leads us to a profound state of grace and non-judgement.
In order to harness the qualities of any innate heightened gifts of empathy it is important that we do not become consumed and over ridden by everything that we feel going on around us. There are some basic understandings that can help us...
- First of all, any practice that will help us unveil our true selves and retain our sense of individual expression is very important. Many find that meditation, yoga, tai chi, sport, art etc. help us peel back the layers that remind us who we truly are. It is beneficial to do whatever practice works in this respect on a daily basis to provide on going openness to our inherent guidance.
- Taking on anyone else's energy is a choice that we make at a soul level. We make this choice ourselves! We may need to frequently remind ourselves of this fact initially. With awareness we learn to not take on the feelings as our own. We 'still' feel them, yet these feelings become purposeful and we begin to recognise what we are supposed to act upon and what we are supposed to allow to fall away.
- If feelings and emotions are becoming lodged within our energy field it is because it is getting stuck in internal tightness that we have. The compression is something that we are holding onto within our field. As long as we hold onto this tightness we are held hostage to the energy that we are taking on board through others. When we come up against an energetic compression we are constantly invited to let go of whatever it is that is locking energy within there. Contrary to popular belief, we don't always have to go into painful detail about what we are holding onto. It some times helps to express it, at other times simply bring awareness to the area an allowing light, universal life energy, chi (whatever you connect with) to flow into the area will allow tension to dissolve and trapped energy to release and flow through.
An empath has been given the intuitive gift of feeling. As we become clearer, more grounded and balanced this gift evolves into a form a clairsentience, and we become able to use it in a purposeful way to be of service.