Having empathy means our heart goes out to another person in joy or pain. But for empaths it goes much further. We actually feel others’ emotions, energy, and physical symptoms in our own bodies, without the usual defenses that most people have. ~ Dr. Judith Orloff, The Empath’s Survival Guide
Empathy is being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This doesn’t mean that you feel sorry for someone when something bad happens to them. Or that you cry when your favorite character on a TV show suffers a tragic accident. Those are examples of sympathy.
When you’re an empath, you feel what another person is feeling. It feels as though whatever someone else is experiencing, is also happening to you. Be it good, bad or tragic.
As an empath, you get to feel the joy of others and often show unending support during their time of need. An empath is that perfect friend that gets it.
What happens, then, when people around an empath are going through something stressful, or catastrophic? Exhaustion. Drain. Damage.
Empath Survival Techniques
An empath takes in the energies and emotions of others around them. This includes other people’s pain and stress. As an empath, if you’re not careful, you can end up suffering emotionally and physically.
As you can image, this can take quite a toll on the mind and body. Therefore, empaths need to learn some self-care survival techniques. This way, they can continue to share their special gift with others, without hurting themselves.
1. Take the time you need to unwind
An empath may feel quite exhausted when attending a party and having to mingle with lots of people. They may even feel that one-on-one time with a partner or friend is draining.
This is why it’s so important for empaths to take time to unwind. This may mean enjoying a few nights of solitude each week. For an empath in a relationship, this may mean taking a weekend away – alone. Or, retreating to a separate room in the house to unwind.
If you find that a friend needs solitude to recharge, they aren’t necessarily antisocial. This may be their way to restore depleted energies. The last thing they need is ridicule or cajoling from their family or friends.
2. Use energetic tools to cleanse and protect
There are many tools that create an energetic “shield” to help maintain a personal energetic field. For an empath, they can lessen the impact of damaging situations.
Here are some of the most common tools:
- Crystals – Science and technology have proven that crystals are objects of measurable effect. Their influence on outside energies is undeniable. Specifically, dark-colored crystals, such as black onyx, obsidian, amethyst, fluorite and tigers eye, are known for their protective effects.
- Smudging – The North American native tradition of smudging by burning white sage bundles has been used for generations to clear out stale and negative energy out of the body and spirit. Smudging is a relaxing way to regain composure and recenter your awareness after experiencing distress.
- Essential oils – Oils such as sandalwood, niaouli and myrrh all have very power cleansing properties. The olfactory sense is more closely linked to our emotional system than any of our other senses. When using essential oils, a link is created between healthy psychic states and the physical awareness of the present moment. This can be very beneficial for an empath.
- Cleansing shower or bath – The physical action of taking a shower or bath, with the right intention set in mind, can be quite restorative. The water in a bath or shower can literally wash away anything that no longer serves the body, including emotional baggage. Baths also allow for the use of essential oils, Epsom salt, crystals and flower petals, for additional healing.
- Amulets – Amulets, trinkets and talismans are most common in religious traditions. Just think about the role of the Christian cross or the Muslim hamsa. They have the specific purpose of protecting the human spirit, and can be quite beneficial to an empath.
It’s difficult to say no to people, especially when it’s a friend or family member. Yet, an empath has to set clear boundaries. Otherwise, they end up giving more and more, without having the time they need to recharge. This can lead an empath to exhibit behavior that might be mistaken for anxiety or depression, when in fact the empath just needs to reestablish balance.
In addition, boundaries help limit interactions with people who end up taking advantage of an empath’s compassionate nature. Even if it’s not intentional, troubled individuals will seek out empaths, solely because of their kind nature.
If you’re an empath, it’s important to evaluate your relationships often. Through this, you will realize who is respectful of your empath survival techniques, and who is damaging. This does not mean you shouldn’t be there when your friends need you. It just means that, at times, you might need to put yourself first.
4. Establish a regular meditation practice
Science continues to prove that meditation is a powerful healing practice. As such, a consistent meditation practice can be one of the most beneficial tools for an empath.
A regular meditation practice brings with it many benefits, such as increased brain density and a boost in connections between neurons. It also decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are common in depleted empaths. Finally, meditation improves clarity of thought and increases endorphin levels. This can be very rejuvenating for just about anyone.
Similar to physical exercise, there are different ways to go about having a meditation practice. You may need to try a few before you find a method fits you. Some, such as the qigong method, may require additional resources. Here is as a good guided meditation audio track: Qi Gong: Moving Meditation with Lee Holden. As well, here’s a simple instructional booklet: Yang Jwing-Ming’s Qigong Meditation.
Most importantly, a meditation practice doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated. You may just need a quiet spot in your home, where you can close your eyes and practice some breathing exercises.
On the other hand, for a soothing effect outside the home, a white light meditation can be very effective. Using your mind’s eye, image a bright white light forming a protective shield all around you. The physical eyes can be closed or open. It doesn’t matter. Just trust that your white light continues to surround, protect and comfort you as you carry on with your day.
For an empath, meditation can be quite healing and help reestablish mental/emotional balance. All it takes is consistent practice.
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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