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I haven’t talked much about being an empath, but it’s what I am. At times of great stress, it tends to work against me. At times of great peace, it is the best gift the universe could have shared with me.
Last fall, I took a weekend training with a Shaman about how to live as an empath. It was helpful, and perhaps it’s time that I revisit some of the lessons learned there. One of the things that happens with me is that I can link deeply and intuitively to people for whom I care. It’s like sharing a piece of spirit. I can sense what they are feeling and what they are doing. Most of the time, I’m right. And sometimes being right can be positively devastating.
It is such a mixed thing, when you love someone and want them to be happy, but at the same time you want to be the one they are happy with and you can’t have that.
Empaths have the ability to sense things on many levels. We can read people – their body language, their eyes, the very air around them. I can, if I chose, put myself in a stranger’s skin and feel their thoughts and emotions. This is not something I do, however, because it is a violation of a stranger’s spirit and space. And I take on too much of other’s stuff when I do it. This quality is one of the reasons that neither psychology or massage therapy worked out for me as a career.
Most times, it is a matter of finding a quiet space within myself; from that place, I can reach out tender tendrils to sense what others might be feeling, and hopefully help them on a level of which they are not even aware. This all sounds awfully foo-foo Boulder, doesn’t it?
The concept of the Highly Sensitive Person is very popular here in Boulder, and while some would say that HSP is the same thing as being an empath, I would disagree. Perhaps in some people, the two go together. But in the cases of people whom I’ve met who are Highly Sensitive Persons, it seems to be an affliction, and one that is focused on their own challenges of dealing with this world full of people, motion, light, sound and busyness. It has very little to do with the strange, serene sense of the feelings of other beings (both animal and human) and everything to do with adjusting their surrounding (and the people around them) to accommodate their “disability”. Yes, being Highly Sensitive has become a focus of psychotherapy here in town. Amazing.
However you might choose to interpret it, I live it every day. It’s a painful joy, which is the mixture of my life these days, with varying degrees of each. I only wish it were easier.