The Joys and Pitfalls of Being an Empath

Essential Practices for Empaths

by Sylvia Brallier

I have this theory that people become empaths as a way to stay safe in their world. If you know what those around you are feeling, then you know how to adjust what you say and do to make them comfortable so that they are safer people to be around, both emotionally and physically. An empath can be a real chameleon, shifting tone of voice, conversation styles, body posture, and choice of tactics and actions to help the people that are around them to feel more at ease. The problem with this is that they often lose track of what is actually authentic and true for themselves. They tend to care take their environment as a way to care take themselves. This is a pretty roundabout way of doing self-care. Doing or saying something that will make someone else angry or sad is uncomfortable for an empath, so that they often avoid confrontation in order to avoid feeling other people's uncomfortable emotions. It is easy for them to lose track of the fact that they themselves are feeling uncomfortable.

I know first hand, because I am an empath. It has been both a gift and has exacted many painful lessons from me. I could never be the healer I am today without having been an empath. When I lay my hands on a person, I can tell almost right away what emotions are lodged in that person's body, what issues they are dealing with, and sometimes, even what they are thinking. On the other side of the coin, there have been times in my life where I was not true to myself because of the needs and the emotions of others, often greatly to my detriment.

So what are we to do about this quandary?

There are several things that I have found essential practices in my path to take advantage of the psychic gifts, and lessen the problems of being an empath.

Develop Your Shield Body

Around your physical body, there is a layer of your aura that is devoted to your interface with your environment. Its shape and condition indicate your relationship to your world. People who are empaths often have a "thin skin" in relation to their shield body. When it has holes in it, we are more easily influenced by our environment. Visualize a shield of energy around your physical body. See is as radiant and complete. You may see it as a particular color. Some people like to see it as white or gold. Decide what color would work well for you, and see it that way. Imagine the shield body as flowing and moving, not static; we are developing a shield here – not armor. It is good for it to be flexible, so you can let in what serves you, and keep out what doesn't.

Another thing that I have found exceptionally helpful, it to carry around a boji stone. This remarkable stone has been proven by Kirlian photography to seal the auric field if kept on the person for 3 days or more.

Center of Being

Once you have the shield body in place, imagine that there is a spark in the center of your being that is your pure essence. Focus your attention on the spark, being all your senses to bear. Also be aware of your sensations, emotions and thoughts. First try this when you are alone, and then, after a time, practice it around others. See if you can switch your awareness from your environment to your self, and back again. Notice the difference between the two.

Don't Take On Responsibilities That Aren't Yours

A person can get so used to care taking that they can feel as though they are supposed to do it. You are not. It is good to be as compassionate as possible without going beyond the limits of what you need to do to maintain your health and sanity. You are responsible up to that line, and not beyond it. If you are an empath, your idea of where the line is might be a bit fuzzy. Once you get to know where the line is, try to stick to it. It will make all your relationships clearer and cleaner.

Get Used To Being The Bad Guy

Empaths are often outwardly kind and caring. They usually get the benefit of everyone thinking that they are almost saintly sometimes. It is easy to get attached to being the "nice guy." It is not easy dealing with people's negative emotions, but care taking others does not ultimately serve them or you. It does not help them to protect them from their feelings. It keeps them from growing up; besides, it’s not real. Must better to live in reality than a padded reality. Yes, they may get angry or sad at you or with you if you don't do what they want you to do, but it is important to remember that their feelings are not your feelings, and your well-being is not dependent on their well being.

Develop Your Throat Chakra

Sometimes an empath will know what they need to say or do to make good boundaries, but have a hard time following through in expressing it. The throat chakra is the center for the expression of personal truth. Through the opening of the throat chakra, we open ourselves to expressing our true needs and feelings, as well as expressing the creative force as it moves through us. Some good exercises for opening the throat chakra are singing and chanting, sharing your feelings and thoughts with friends, and meditating on the throat chakra. Some healing stones that help with the throat chakra are chrysacolla, turquoise, lapis lazuli, amazonite, and blue lace agate. You can meditate with them, put them in a medicine bag, or wear jewelry (particularly necklaces).

Develop Your Root Chakra

The root chakra helps us to deal with being fully in the world. When the root chakra is open, we are fully grounded and present with whatever is coming our way. When it is not open, we can be disassociative, fearful, and have difficulty staying present with what is going on. Opening and healing the root chakra helps us to release the fears that keep us from our highest manifestation within form. Some exercises that help to open the root chakra are:

Imagine you are sending roots down into the earth from your base. Imagine you can breathe in and out of you root. On the inhale, breath in energy from he earth. On the exhale, release any thing that is within you that does not serve you.

Some healing stones that might be helpful are obsidian, boji stones, hematite, and red jasper.

Smudging And Clearing Regularly

Whether you are having difficulty with your empathic abilities or not, it is a good idea to smudge yourself regularly to release other people's energy and influence from your energy body. Other good clearing methods are showering, bathing and spending time in solitude. Can you feel what others around you are feeling? Are you sensitive to your surroundings? When you lay your hands on someone, do your hands know right where to go to help that person? Perhaps you are an empath.

How To Become More Empathetic

If you would like to become more empathetic it might be helpful for you to try these things:

Cultivate Compassion

In order to begin to develop empathic ability, it is essential to care how someone feels. When we have compassion, we attune to the needs and feelings of the person we want to help. When we resist the energies, need and feelings of another, it is pretty hard to really open your self to them enough to know what is going on.

Put Yourself In Someone Else's Shoes

One for the best ways to develop compassion is to put your self in their shoes. What would it feel like to be them – to have had their experiences, to live their lifestyle, etc? There is a practice of entrainment that can help you come into a simpatico with them.

When you are working directly with a person, breathe with them – at the same rate. Imagine you can feel what they feel. It works the best if you can be in some form of physical contact with them, like holding their hand, or placing your hand on their heart chakra. Imagine your awareness sinks into their body. Notice what you see in your mind's eye, feel physically, and hear. Bring all of your senses to bear.

Develop Your Heart Chakra

When our heart chakra is truly open, we have the experience of the woven-ness of reality. We are not as separate as we seem. When another person is in pain, we have the knowledge of their need, and may respond to it appropriately. Breathe in and out of your heart chakra. Imagine it opening like a lovely flower. Feel all the love that has ever been given to you, and feel and see all those who have ever loved. Be sure to include animals, who are great teachers of unconditional love. Allow your heart to grow several sizes. Some gemstones that are helpful for opening the heart chakra are rose quartz, malachite, emerald and ruby.

Develop Your Third Eye Chakra

When the third eye is open, we can experience strong clairvoyance. Through it, we can perceive more clearly what is going on in the minds and hearts of those around us. When the third eye is closed, we tend to be more mental in our approach, and spend way too much time trying to figure things out instead of just "knowing." To open the third eye, sit quietly focusing on the third eye. While you attention is there, chant the mantra, "aum." envision light filling your skull, and emanating out of your third eye. After a time, if you like, you may ask a question, and allow a vision that represents the answer to appear in your mind. When you are finished meditating on the third eye, be sure to spend a little time focusing on your root chakra to help ground your energy.

About this contributor: Sylvia Brallier, author and Master Healer, is the Director of The Tantric Shamanism Institute.