March 2016 By Aparna Talaulicar Empaths pick up the energy of people, places and things and are excellent healers once they learn to balance this quality, says Aparna Talaulicar If the list above sounds familiar, then you may be one of the five per cent of people in the world who is an empath. “For me, being an empath means that I am sensitive to people, places, energies and it is easy to be ‘feeling’ or ‘picking up’ what is energetically going on there. Like you have a radar that senses things. It pretty much sums me up because I am sort of receiving information through the waking and sleeping hours about people around me or things going on around me, or sometimes even people connected to me but living far away,” explains Aditi Surti, an energy healer and ghost whisperer.You walk into a room, and in the hour or so you spend there, your mood can change from despair to joy to heavy lethargy to discomfort caused by physical pain. You walk out and go home and after some time you feel like your usual self. Someone close to you is telling you something, and you know beyond any doubt that the person is lying. You feel overwhelmed in crowded places, you avoid parties, you have very few close friends whom you feel safe being with. You have unusual aches and pains that do not get diagnosed when medically tested. Even perfect strangers reveal the most intimate details of their lives to you. This is a common occurrence with you. For Dev Barrot, a part-time social worker and an Access Consciousness facilitator, school and college years were a constant onslaught of emotion. A loner, he was often bullied and ridiculed for being overly sensitive. Everywhere he went he picked up other people’s thoughts and emotions. It was only years later and after a couple of bouts of severe, debilitating depression that Dev began to practise energy healing techniques and became alive to his spiritual path. One day a friend said to him, “You are an empath.” The definition enabled Dev for the first time to make sense of his puzzling drives and behaviours. “An empath is someone who has empathy on steroids. It isn’t just an aspect of our personality or an ability, unless we call breathing an ability. It is who we are,” declares Nidhu Kapoor, an energy medicine practitioner who runs Mystic Lotus and Dragonflies, a spiritual portal. Dr Michael R Smith, an intuitive empath coach says on his site, www.empathconnection.com, “If you’re one of us, you have highly sensitive, spiritual, emotional and energetic perception. You literally feel other people’s energy and emotions in your own body and energy field. Sometimes it may seem like you are an energy sponge for others. There is nothing you can do to take your intuitive empath sensitivity away; however you can learn to become a skilled empath so it doesn’t hurt.” Many empaths struggle with themselves and their experience of emotional overload until they run into a kindred spirit who points them in the right direction. Until then they are misfits, misunderstood and confused about themselves. In an attempt to make sense of their experiences and block out being overwhelmed by other peoples’ energies, they often turn to addictive behaviours, seeking solace in an excess of food, alcohol, sex or drugs. Once you discover you are an empath, you begin to understand that not all the emotions, or thoughts or energy you are feeling are your own. Aditi describes an incident where she felt that her entire body was gripped with fear, her head felt heavy and she had loose motions. She had a sense of unease related to her uncle. By now, she had figured that these kind of symptoms were mostly someone else’s issues that she was sensing. She called her mother and heard that her uncle had had a stroke and was in a coma at the ICU. The outcome looked bleak. By the next morning Aditi had the awareness that her uncle was hanging onto his life just to meet his daughter who was on her way from New York to see him. She knew he would pass on in 48 hours. And that is how it panned out. Sometimes as an empath, you will be able to predict what may happen to friends or family. Dev recalls one time when he was in the area outside a temple, and he ran into a group of friends and acquaintances who urged him to accompany them inside. He declined their offer because he had a very strong hunch against it. Later, he heard that the group had got into a big fight inside the temple and come to blows with some other people. Dev was energetically able to sense the violence ahead and avoid it. Of course, it can’t be easy to always be absorbing so much of other people’s energy, emotions, or thoughts. Empaths can also be deeply affected by collective suffering during a manmade or natural disaster, and feel the pain of thousands of people or feel as though their body’s energy is being used elsewhere. Many times it can be hard to distinguish between one’s own feelings and moods, and what is being picked up from others. Once you recognize that you are an empath, what may have earlier seemed like a curse or affliction can be perceived as a divine gift. Many empaths turn into energy healers and use their empathetic connections to help others heal. But the first step is to learn how to cope with all that this gift bestows upon you. (See box.) Empaths have to learn how to distinguish their own baggage from the next person’s. And they must stay grounded. ‘Once empaths are awakened, healed and empowered in the gift of empathy, they stop draining it trying to make sure everybody’s needs are fulfilled at the expense of their own,” says Nidhu, who feels being an empath naturally led her to becoming a healer. Once you recognise that you are an empath, what may have earlier seemed like a curse or affliction can be perceived as a divine gift. “A trained empath may be well aware that they are experiencing someone else’s sadness, yet decide to feel the energy for a while in order to help the other person figure out what the sadness is about,” writes Caroline Van Kimmenade, an empath trainer on her website, www.thehappysensitive.com, adding, “This can be helpful in consensual healing work. However, it should not be an everyday stance to take with just anyone…It’s a little like playing soccer and keeping balls out of your team’s goal. You still perceive those balls, but you kick them away before they enter the goal. Obviously, if you’ve never played soccer, that task alone can seem daunting. But, as with anything, energy awareness is a practice that can slowly become second nature.” Eventually, every empath can settle into his or her space in the universe, giving and receiving from a position of balance and peace. Empath Toolkit Here are some of the tools that the empaths we spoke to have found useful. Gary Douglas’s Access Consciousness tops the list. The questions that are asked in Access Consciousness directly target an empath’s predicament. “Who does it belong to?” or “Is this yours or someone else’s?” As the empath asks the questions, she can feel her energy lighten up and can sense the answer and know what is hers and what is not. Once the awareness comes in, the person is able to deal with the energy. Emotional Freedom Technique. The practitioner taps certain energy points on the body while making certain affirmations and statements connected with how he is feeling. As he continues to tap, the energy shifts and a release is felt. Byron Katie’s The Work. This offers a way to awaken to your true nature and potential through a process of questioning the thoughts that cause negative feelings and actions. The Sedona Method. A process that helps you to make changes by releasing unconsciously held blocks and unwanted feelings to put you in control of all areas of life. Cleansing and protection rituals help to stay grounded. From burning camphor or incense to learning special chants to adding rock salt to your bath water to wearing certain crystals or gems, there are all sorts of ways to protect yourself. Yoga helps the empath to develop body-mind awareness and a sense of being present in the here and now. About the author : Aparna Talaulicar is a Gurgaon-based Sivananda yoga teacher. For yoga classes in Gurgaon, please visit www.yogashowstheway.com
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