Category Archives: empaths

Mind Games! Listen to You Gut!

Your-Spouse-Going-Crazy

Unfortunately, there is a good chance that we have all been gaslighted by someone at some point in our lives, even if it was just on a small scale by someone we barely know.

Sadly, many fall victim to it within their intimate relationships, or even in dealings with “friends” or family members.

There is also a high chance that we will have failed to spot someone was playing this insidious mind game with us and until we fully understand it, there is a high chance that it could happen again.

One of the main reasons we may not recognise it is that many of us will fail to believe those we trust and love are capable of manipulating us (it is this denial that keeps the dynamic going.) Also, the gaslighter will most likely be highly skilled at covering their tracks, keeping things subtle and being a skilled master or mistress of deception.

Gaslighting is one of the most extreme, dangerous and effective forms of emotional and psychological abuse and is mostly carried out intentionally. Gaslighting is a game of mind control and intimidation that is often used by narcissists and sociopaths as a way of controlling, confusing and debilitating someone.

The term gaslighting was coined in the 1938 play Gas Light and the film adaptions that were then created helped to enhance its popularity.

In the play the husband used forms of manipulation in an attempt to drive his wife crazy, for example he deliberately dims the gaslights in the house but told his wife that she was imagining it. With the use of various tricks he tried to convince his wife that she was going insane and also that she was losing her memory.

The whole intention of gaslighting is to decrease someone’s self-esteem and self-confidence so they are unable to function in an independent manner. The person being gaslighted will eventually become so insecure that they will fail to trust their own judgment, their intuition and find themselves unable to make decisions.

Eventually the victim will become so unsure of what reality looks like that they become completely dependent on their abuser. The abuser will appear to the victim to be the only one to have a clear grip of their mind and also of what is going on around them.

The abuser will systematically and frequently withhold information and then deliberately alter facts to disorientate their victim.

They may also remove things from certain places and then deny doing so to destabilize and confuse the other person.

The abuser will refrain from mentioning specific details and then convince the other person that they had told them, so the victim thinks they are losing their memory or their mind.

The abuser will say something then ask their victim to repeat what it is they have said. When the victim repeats clearly word for word, the abuser will lie to say they haven’t said a particular word, or that they have spoken it in a different tone of voice to that of which the abuser heard. For example, the abuser may say something angrily or aggressively, but when the victim gets upset, they will completely deny having used this tone, quickly changing their voice to a gentler and calmer tone. The abuser may then accuse their victim of deliberately trying to hear everything they say in a negative way—even though the abuser knows they deliberately wanted to appear as aggressive and negative.

Often, the abuser will want to create levels of distrust within the relationship to make the victim feel they either are cheating, or would cheat at the first opportunity. They may say things to make their victim feel insecure and jealous, for example, deliberately mentioning a certain person in a way that makes it sound as though there is more going on behind the scenes. When the victim questions this, the abuser will accuse the victim of having trust issues and this will falsely further confirm in the victim’s mind that they have serious insecurities and also, that they are extremely paranoid.

The abuser will make up very convincing lies to deliberately upset the other person and then call them names, mock them and put them down for getting upset and for overreacting. The abuser will also make light of anything that the victim feels is important to make the victim’s opinions, life-choices and thoughts seem juvenile or that they are inferior to their own. It is likely that the abuser will laugh at or sneer at their victim, but when questioned, convince their victim that they were imagining it.

Some warning signs that gaslighting is taking place:

Apologizing. A victim of gaslighting will constantly be apologizing for doing things wrong, even if they have done nothing wrong. Feeling sorry for everything means that the accountability and responsibility for all perceived wrong-doings has been claimed by one person—the victim. This ensures the perpetrator remains innocent and the victim is continuously guilty.

Can’t Make decisions. The victim will find decision making increasingly difficult, as they will feel that whatever they choose will be the wrong choice. Everything they do or say is wrong, so they feel that they are no longer capable of making rational decisions about anything, so they will leave it up to their abuser. This just gives the abuser even more power and control and prolongs the toxic dance that is taking place between the two.
 
Change. Change is not always easy to notice, since most change happens bit by bit, so the process can feel very natural in some ways. However, if the victim thinks back to who they were before the relationship and who they are now, they will probably see significant differences.

Confusion. Victims of gaslighting will often be in a constant state of bewilderment and confusion. They find it very difficult to trust their own mind, and constantly doubt their thought process. Their instinct fails to kick in because whenever it does, it is very quickly told that it is wrong, so it becomes a silent tool that ensures the gaslighter remains on top of their game. The victim will know that there is something seriously wrong, but they will find it extremely difficult to work out what. The person being gaslighted will always be wondering if they are overly sensitive as they always feel triggered to react to the gaslighter’s behaviour.

Withdrawn. The one being gaslighted will become withdrawn and often reclusive as they feel so low and beaten down that they have little confidence to socialise with anyone. The victim will feel safer spending time alone than with other people, as when those around them question what is wrong, or what is happening within their relationship, the victim just will not have the answers to justify what is going on.

Due to either depression or severe anxiety, the victim will find it extremely difficult to function normally within society or even with close friends or family. The abuser at this stage has won the battle for control, as without anyone to confide in the victim will find it very difficult to work out that it is the abuser that is causing the damage. The abuser will not want anyone to figure out their game, so, they will work hard to make sure their victim becomes alienated from anyone who could offer support.

Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.

The gaslighter wants to appear superior to the one being gaslighted. By making their victim feel completely helpless with very low self-esteem, the abuser has complete domination over them, so they are very successful in manipulating their victim to get whatever it is they want. This can range from simply having their ego stroked by feeling like they are significantly better than the person they are with, and at the extreme end to being able to gain financial, sexual or material benefits as their victim feels too emotionally and mentally weak to fight back.

There are many reasons that someone would gaslight someone else, but it is always done for personal gain. The abuser has very little interest in their victim, other than using them for their own twisted benefit. When the victim becomes so low down that they are no longer of any great use to the gaslighter the relationship will die out. The abuser will distance themselves by ignoring their victim and using silent treatment as an intense form of emotional torture.

The victim will have no idea what to do to please or satisfy their abuser, and will often try anything to win over their abuser to regain the affection that was shown in the beginning stages. By now though, it is far too late. Any little amount of respect that the abuser had for their victim will have been completely depleted and it is very unlikely that the dynamic will change again.

The abuser will often walk away from their victim leaving them with a deep sense of frustration, shame, guilt, anger and often riddled with anxiety and depression. The victim is usually left in a vortex that they will struggle to climb out of, however, this will be compounded by a deep sense of relief that this vicious dance is over.

The abuser will walk away with a great feeling of satisfaction having won each and every battle and will move onto their next innocent victim with even more skill and experience, so they can begin this horrendous war once again.

The victim will very likely need counseling and a huge amount of support to build themselves back to a stage where they have confidence and can trust their own mind and intuition. It is imperative that the victim realizes that they have been a pawn in a very nasty game so they can let go of all the blame they have placed upon themselves and become familiar with the warning signs so that they do not fall victim again.

Anyone who has come through this type of experience will feel debilitated at first, however, they will only be temporarily weakened. They will bounce back stronger than before, having learned painful but valuable lessons along the way. The most important lesson—having complete faith in their intuition. As difficult as it is to accept, there are always red flags and warning signs in the initial stages.

When these signals show up, this is when we must trust completely in our instincts and never fail to listen to what our gut feelings are telling us. Our fight or flight reactions are there for a reason—to prevent us from entering into dangerous situations. When we feel an urgency to take flight—fly.

Fly far and don’t look back

FEELING DRAINED BY YOUR COMPUTER? I FOUND MY MAGICAL SOLUTION!

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I found my magical recipie for feeling healthy and normal after a long day on the computer. 

I’ve always seemed to feel drained and even durty from being on the computer to long. But after getting 2 beautiful salt lamps, I feel the need to share this holistic approach to healthy living on a computer :).

Enjoy this article for it is very informative!!

SALT LAMPS

  • Have you ever noticed how mentally and physically refreshed you feel after sitting by a gashing waterfall? Or how you experience a boost in energy after spending some time at an untamed seafront? What makes you feel so good in spots of this kind is the abundance of negative ions, which get produced in some natural places.

    Now, there is a way to mimic these perfect circumstances in your own home and indoor places where you spend a lot of time. Himalayan salt lamps have the ability to chemically and physically transform a room, and have unique healing effects. Find out how Himalayan salt lamps work, where to use them and what are their health benefits.

    Before I can explain to you why these lamps are so beneficial to your health, I need to briefly tell you about positive and negative ions and how they can affect the way you feel.

    The Dangers of Positive Ions

    We are surrounded by positive and negative ions – these are atoms or molecules that have lost or gained an electron and are electrically charged.

    Positive ions are created by electronic devices and have been dubbed ‘electronic smog’ or ‘electronic air pollution’. As we all know, we are increasingly surrounded by all sorts of computers, large screen TVs, telephones, microwaves and other appliances we now deem necessary for our survival and entertainment (although only a decade ago we did perfectly well without most of these).

    I have previously mentioned the dangers of Wi-Fi / cellular radiation and how it affects your health.

    Studies have shown that your brain gets bombarded by frequencies 20 times higher than its optimal frequency, which results in all sorts of problems, including insomnia, nervousness and allergies.

    The World Health Organization calls the electronic smog “one of the most common and fastest growing environmental influences” and states that concerns about the health effects should be taken seriously.

    In short, positive ions are very harmful to us and need to be neutralized.

    The Potential of Negative Ions

    Nature produces negative ions to combat air pollution. They attract the harmful particles, which are positively charged, and they balance and neutralize them, so that they lose their damaging characteristics.

    In order to breathe in fresh and pure air and protect our health, we want to be surrounded by negative ions. WebMD explains that negative ions stimulate the flow of oxygen to the brain and in this way increase our mental alertness and energy.

    What is a Himalayan Salt Lamp?

    I have previously written about the amazing pink Himalayan salt. Salt lamps are blocks of pure Himalayan salt, so they come from the same region of the world. Also known as the ‘Vitamins of the Air’, they are made from the salt that came from ancient oceans, and serve as a perfect air ionizer.

    Himalayan salt lamps can be solid pieces of salt like this one or decorative baskets filled with large crystals of salt like this one.

    The lamp has a small bulb inside and is shaped in a sophisticated way to create a beautiful decorative object of an exceptional health value.

    How do Salt Crystal Lamps Work?

    Salt lamps emit negative ions.

    The bulb inside of the lamp heats the crystal and supports the ionizing effect. Salt itself is hygroscopic and attracts the water from the surroundings. You can often see that the lamp is damp or even wet, especially in more humid environments. Due to the gentle heat of the lamp, the water quickly evaporates and during the evaporation process the beneficial negative ions get created. They go on to bind with excessive positive ions (bacteria, molds and allergens all carry a positive charge) and neutralize the electronic smog in your home.

    Moreover, the lamp is a very pure source of light and its multi-colored glow has a soothing effect and relaxes you.

    Scientifically speaking, the Himalayan salt lamp achieves the following things:

    1. It ionizes the room.
    2. It balances artificial frequencies and unnatural electromagnetic wavelengths that originate from electronic appliances.
    3. It produces the light waves of the rainbow spectrum which protect your body.

    Health Benefits of Himalayan Salt Lamps

    People using salt lamps report improvement in their physical and mental well-being soon after starting to light them. They are said to help with:

    • respiratory problems (including colds)
    • allergies
    • skin conditions
    • mental and stress-related disorders (including insomnia)
    • headaches and migraines
    • rheumatism
    • blood system disorders.

    Due to their calming colors (different shades of orange and pink), they have also been used in color therapy to help treat neurotic disorders and sleeplessness.

    The lamps have been recommended for anyone wishing to:

    Improve the quality of air in their immediate environment.

  • Achieve a feeling of relaxation and meditation.
  • Improve various health disorders and maintain good health.

Himalayan Salt Lamps in your Home: Where and When

Don’t expect massive improvements if you tuck away a single lamp in the far corner of your house where no-one ever goes. These lamps have a limited range. You will achieve best results if you place them somewhere where you and your family spend a lot of time, or where there are a lot of electronic appliances.

It is suggested to have more than just one lamp. You can start with one of course and then add to your collection as you go along. It’s similar to plants – the more the better. You should aim to have at least one in every room you frequently use, such as bedrooms and living rooms.

Think about the following:

  • Where do you spend most time?
  • Where do you have a lot of ‘electronic smog’ from computers, TVs, mobile phones, etc.?
  • Where would you like to enjoy the lamp’s relaxing effects?

Then, place your lamps in these areas.

Another way to improve the quality of air in your house is by frequently airing the place, so the air can circulate. In the winter months or when there are high levels of air pollution, it might be difficult to leave the windows open and sufficiently air all the rooms. That is when the salt lamps can be particularly useful and can help cleanse the air and remove the stubborn winter bugs.

There are a lot of fake and cheaper versions on the market that don’t use Himalayan salt. You should check the origin of the lamp you are purchasing. The real lamp is made from pure, food grade Himalayan salt. Substitutes from rock salt will not provide you with the same benefits.

http://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/the-amazing-health-benefits-of-himalayan-salt-lamp/

PLEASE REMOVE YOUR SHOES

49994394172a8ec05e7428102d4b8d21When I come home, I take off my shoes and go inside. I never thought to do it the other way around, until now.

Aside from the beach or your backyard, how often do you take off your shoes and walk around outside? If you are like me, you can’t remember when—it may have been sometime in childhood.

Every morning for the past 15 years, I’ve walked my dog in the woods next to my cottage. A couple of days ago I finally slipped off my shoes and walked barefoot. This is what I learned.

1. I still worry about what people think.

As soon as I took off my shoes I had a minute worrying that passerby’s might think I had either taken LSD or was stuck in the ’70s. I also realized how weird it was to have shoes on all of the time. We are animals after all. The only animals that wear lace up, padded shoes.

2. The earth is soft.

So soft in fact that it deeply moved me. Like touching a beloved’s cheek. The temperature of the dirt changed step after step depending on the tree cover over me, and the leaf litter under me. The moisture, the rocks, the shade, the direction of the wind. It all mattered.

3. Walking barefoot is best done slowly and gently.

This way of moving alters your mind and mood. The sharp rocks and prickly oak leaves are there, but it is no big deal. The animal in us knows how to shift our weight, slide a little to the left, step on a rock, or not.

4. Walking barefoot creates presence.

Mind chatter dissipates. The birds are less suspicious. We are quieter and the animals tend to stick around more. We notice sounds, smells and see more detail as we slowly pass by.

5. Sensing connection.

I could really sense the “mother” in mother earth as I stood on her warm skin. I felt the biosphere. The connection of us all. Roots nested under the soles of my feet, cool spikes of growth poking through the earth all around me, and leafing out above me. Feeling the rumble of the creek rise up through my small bones. The delicate nature of our world. I also realized why my dog walks where she walks.

Last month, my mentor, Martha Beck first encouraged me to remove my socks and shoes and venture out on the earth barefoot. We were at a retreat surrounded by horse pastures. I have been lucky enough to have spent much of my life in the company of wonderful horses but this was the very first time I was shoeless. It was a whole new, almost unexplainable experience. When the horses noticed me, they stopped eating and trotted up to the fence. I silently moved towards them. They seemed very curious and very calm. We stood together on the warm earth for a long while, and then noiselessly, we separated as one.

It is amazing to me how wearing shoes on my feet has separated me from so much of who I am, and what I am a part of.

I am completely aware that much of this may sound hokey but I encourage you to try this simple yet slightly radical act of slipping off your shoes and walking in the dirt. Please leave a comment and let me know what you discover.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/11/please-remove-your-shoes-how-to-find-the-mother-in-mother-earth/

THIS GIRL IS CRAZY AMAZING! Look into the X ray of an emptath’s mind, body and soul!

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I feel your pain: an empath’s guide to staying balanced

Do you often wonder which emotions are yours, and which belong to someone else? When people you care about are hurting, do you feel their pain so deeply that it’s hard to separate—even after they’re out of crisis mode? In relationships, do you donate so much of your own natural resources that you suffer from a chronic energy shortage? And with those you’re close to, is it hard to figure out what your own needs are—or even what you want for dinner? If the answer is yes, it’s highly likely that you’re an empath.

What does it mean to be an empath, and why is it fraught with these basic life challenges? Derived from the Greek “em” (in) and “pathos” (feeling), the term empathic means you’re able to “feel into” others’ feelings. But for empaths, this sensitivity is magnified to the nth degree. An empath is more tuned in, more empathic, and more sensitive to others than the average empathic person.

Being this tuned in, empathic, and sensitive is an asset, but it comes at great cost. Empaths are unusually vulnerable to emotional contagion, to “catching” others’ emotions in much the same way that you’d catch a cold or flu. But it doesn’t stop there: empaths get physically ill and suffer from anxiety, depression, chronic stress, professional burnout, and pain syndromes more often than their less empathic counterparts. And empaths often need lots of down time after social engagements, “recovery periods” at the end of a workday, or extended intervals of being alone. They can feel fundamentally different from others: As a conference-goer recently put it, “It’s like I’m an alien from another planet—no one understands me, and sometimes I don’t even get myself.” The empaths I work with often confess a deep-seated fear that this “alien thing” means something is wrong with them, that they’re somehow damaged.

As a clinical psychologist and yoga therapist, I’ve supervised psychotherapists, yoga teachers, and yoga practitioners for more than two decades—and a great many of them are empaths. I’ve helped them identify who they are and develop the skills to lead more balanced and healthy lives. And as a “recovering empath” myself, I’ve had to walk a parallel path. From this personal and professional immersion, I’ve found that it helps just to name the issue, to hammer a framework of understanding around it. And then, armed with tools from yoga, mindfulness, and psychology, we can work on balance. We can create a blueprint for physical well-being, emotional health, and more rewarding relationships.

Are you an empath? Here are five signs that you might be—and that your wonderful qualities, when left unchecked, can compromise your health.

THE EMPATH CHECKLIST:

1. You struggle with boundaries. It’s tough to know where you leave off and others begin, which experiences are yours and which come from others, when to open your channels for connection or to close them.

2. You’re often not in your body. For empaths, all that “feeling into” the experiences of others means that you dissociate: you leave your body or “shuttle” out of direct experience as a matter of course.

3. You’re vulnerable to emotional contagion. You absorb the emotions of others, from your boss and colleagues at work to your family and friends, and even the check-out guy at Whole Foods.

4. You’re prone to nervous system overdrive. It doesn’t take much—sometimes just a draining conversation or a party that’s loud and over-populated—to propel your nervous system into alarm mode.

5. You have trouble with intimacy. Your relationships are filled with intense bonding and equally intense separations. You can merge with others at the drop of a hat, but get so entangled that an “emotional exorcism” of someone you care about is often the only way to get your space.

Even when we’re aware of them, these patterns are hard to change. They’re wired into us deeply, at levels the conscious mind can’t reach. For that reason, to be a healthy empath requires daily practice. Here are the key issues and therapeutic practices that form the heart of the journey. The challenge is that much of the healing needs to happenthrough the body. And for empaths, the body can be a wasteland of sorts, a long-abandoned battleground.

Lest you think this is a “chick thing,” there are male empaths, too. It’s just that the process of natural selection draws empathic males underground more quickly than it does their female counterparts because sensitivity, empathy, and attunement to others are considered “feminine” traits. Male empaths can be ostracized for these qualities, and learn to bury them from sight. As a male empath in one of our therapeutics clinics recently said, “I take on other people’s experiences all the time. I have a huge amount of anxiety and depression, and it’s hard to know what’s mine and what’s someone else’s. But when I talk about it to my friends, they tell me to quit being ‘such a girl.’” Male empaths need the same kind of body-based support that female ones require.

RX FOR EMPATHS:

Empaths have an extraordinary capacity for union. They’re great in a crisis; people in need call forth their deepest abilities. They make gifted, intuitive healers. They see others deeply, well beyond the surface. And they have a magnetic quality that draws people to them. Yet flanking these positive aspects are several shadow sides. Here’s what you’ll want to focus on to help you live in a state of physical and emotional equilibrium.

1. Develop Boundaries. As an empath, you give too much space to others’ emotional lives. You solve their problems with ease and help them restore equilibrium, often at the expense of your own energy stores. But even when no one needs you, the habit of “trolling for crisis” means you’re always on alert, and makes it tough to return to the shores of your own awareness.

Empath Rx: Creating boundaries isn’t a matter of mental discipline, of “just say no.” When you’re an empath, limits need to be integrated into your physicality. The core body is your seat of power: What helps is a yoga practice that brings your focus into your deep, intrinsic core where you can develop “prana in the belly.” This four-pronged core body program includes awareness, strength, flexibility, and the capacity to release. Working with the core in this holistic way helps you ground back into your body and replenish your energy stores. Mindfulness tools can also help you monitor where—or on whom—you’re focused and notice when you’ve migrated into someone else’s direct experience.

2. Bring Awareness into Your Body. Imagine that you’ve left to visit a friend in another city and forgotten to lock your house. And that’s not all: You’ve left all the doors and windows wide open, so anyone can get in. This is what it’s like to be an empath. You can abandon your own home, your direct experience, in favor of someone else’s. The more you do this, the more difficult it is to return. What makes matters worse is that not inhabiting your body (and the moment) keeps the benefits of yoga and other mindfulness-based practices just beyond your reach.

Empath Rx: Offset this tendency toward dissociation with slow, mindful vinyasa yoga sequences that link movement with breath. Empaths can spend a whole yoga class or practice on auto-pilot: adding anchors for awareness will help bring you back to your body and to the present. Contemplative practices such as meditation and restorative yoga give you the time, space, and silence you need to get re-embodied again.

3. Balance Your Nervous System.

An empath’s environment is like “emotional satellite radio” with surround sound and hundreds of channels. Your nervous system surfs the dial constantly, flipping from station to station to listen to others’ emotional broadcasts: your boss’s complaints about work, your partner’s anxiety over a potential job loss, your best friend’s sadness about a breakup. These information-processing demands can catapult your nervous system into overdrive, which reinforces anxiety, depression, and chronic stress. On top of that, the incessant electronic requests of e-mail and social media can overload and exhaust you.

Empath RX:

Learn to notice the signs of nervous system overdrive, such as that inner sense of something always “humming” beneath the surface, an elevated heart rate, and increased emotional reactivity. Practice simple breathwork techniques like nasal breath (and if accessible, nasal breath with a longer exhale) to slow your heart and bring your nervous system back to baseline. Regular breaks from social media also help, as do practices that balance your nervous system and quiet your mind, like Restorative Yoga.

4. Learn to Regulate Intimacy.

For empaths, intimacy comes down to matters of space and reciprocity. You can feel like Dr. Doolittle’s Push-Me-Pull-You: Sometimes you crave intense emotional, physical, and spiritual bonding. At other times, you need so much space that having your own personal galaxy might feel too crowded. When you want to merge, you can threaten people who have a higher need for breathing room; when you need wide-open space, you can appear remote and withholding. And when it comes to reciprocity, you’re rarely comfortable on the receiving end. Your giving nature attracts narcissistic people who crave the mirroring and validation you offer. In the meantime, you’re able to create a fantasy in which the relationship lives up to its potential—and you inhabit that fantasy as though it were real. You learn to subsist on a diet of mere “emotional breadcrumbs,” and can suffer from malnourishment.

Empath Rx:

To build your ability to receive care from others, try bodywork or yoga therapy with someone you trust. You can also balance a personal yoga practice with group classes to strengthen your sense of community. If your job requires any degree of public exposure, or you work as a healer, you may need stretches of alone time to reestablish your equilibrium. Here again, mindfulness-based practices can help you notice feelings of being devoured and interrupt the cycle of merger and isolation before you reach the breaking point.

5. Develop emotional immunity.

Empaths pick up on other’s emotions and even their direct inner experience so rapidly that it’s hard to indentify what’s happened. As a result, a large part of your anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and immune issues can belong not to you, but to someone else. And just like your nervous system and physical body, your emotional body and immune system struggle with boundaries. They have difficulty discerning what’s you and what’s not. This leaves you vulnerable to emotional issues like anxiety, depression, and chronic stress, as well as auto-immune illnesses such as allergies, lupus, or fibromyalgia.

Empath Rx:

Practice interpersonal hygiene: using mindfulness, notice how you feel after spending time with others. You’ll soon learn which people are hazardous to your health, and you can limit your interactions with them. Also try lymph-stimulating asana sequences and Restorative Yoga to stimulate your capacity for constructive internal reflection.

THE EMPATH’S FILTER:

One of the more insidious consequences of Empath Syndrome is having a very thin, membranous emotional skin which reacts intensely to real or perceived invasion. This skin is allergic to a variety of foods, social settings, and other people—and on the inside, it mimics the auto-immune pattern of self-hatred. This exposes our nerve endings to all the shame, rage, and deep, existential grief inside us and in everyone around us. An offhand comment from a loved one, a request for help from someone when our resources are at a low ebb, or a harmless comment from that “weird guy” at the gym can get under our skin in microseconds. This sets off an alarm, and we immediately filter that person as either “dangerous” or “safe.” Long ago, that type of filtering was necessary for our survival but as we mature, it becomes less adaptive, even destructive. Because we doubt the strength of this filter (after all, it’s tough for us to set boundaries), we construct a narrative around the experience. Once we’ve developed a juicy story about the person who got under our skin, we repeat it. We pull for confirmation from others, as though having an army behind this filter will help it feel more like a fortress.

Having the armed forces behind us can feel comforting initially, but our actions only strengthen the sensitivity of the danger/safe filter. And since our narrative is rarely limited to one encounter, we practice it over time. Soon, it gains a brittle hardness. This outer shell protects us from injury (good), but also from intimacy with others and our deepest selves (not so good).

Often, the deepest (and hardest!) work happens long after the interaction is over, when our nervous system is back to balance and the temporary comfort our narrative gave us has dissipated. Our task is to go back to the filter, to our initial decision in the moment, and reevaluate. We can (this is so hard!) reconsider and re-examine the encounter from all angles, balancing the harsh light of hindsight with a healthy dose of self-compassion. We can even ask others for input—preferably those who don’t indulge our stories, and who want to see us grow.

Over time, we can acknowledge where our filters make errors or blind us. We can change their sensitivity settings to be more open. We can acknowledge where they make errors or may blind us. Then we’ve got something to grown on. The challenging part: Empaths have a really tough time changing this filter because it feels so necessary for safety. What’s more, adjusting the settings actually stretches our “emotional skin.” This expansion is uncomfortable: It can feel in some ways like a “little death” and it can jolt the nervous system into caffeinated overdrive. This is when the quieter aspects of yoga and mindfulness like Restorative Yoga can help promote constructive internal reflection, and help us assimilate the changes we’ve made to our filter. I’ve been in this place many times and experienced the struggle myself. And while our asana practice helps us be more embodied, this epic battle with our filter is carried out on the very plains of engagement where mindfulness and yoga try so hard to lead us.

IT’S LIKE A TATTOO:

Empaths often ask me, with great sincerity, “How do I get rid of this?” Their poignant request reflects the cost they pay, in time and effort, to achieve a measure of balance. But being an empath is like having a tattoo: the imprint is there for life, no matter what you may do to change it. These practices aren’t a time-limited, do-it-for-three-months-and-all-will-be-well kind of program. Rather, they’re a lifelong journey of self-discovery. But it needn’t be a life sentence. Having a daily empath-balancing practice improves our relationship with ourselves. It juices our creative process. It improves emotional regulation. It deepens our work life, and enhances our physical health.

Empaths need community, a tribe of our own to belong to, and a shared language through which we can first unload the burden of being built as we are. Yet once we’ve ingested this sense of belonging, our task is to resist the temptation to rest there forever, and cultivate instead both personal and shared practices that bolster our body, calm our mind, and help us ground into and explore ourselves. We do this first in shallow waters and then in time, the deep.

It may seem that transformation is about transcendence: that we somehow leave behind our flaws to achieve a measure of spiritual perfection. Yet true spiritual evolution and emotional health entail a reckoning with and even valuing of the unique set of challenges we’ve been given. Sometimes the holes in our evolution—the very things that we lack—plait a deep thread of awareness into the fabric of our self-study. We’ll spend the rest of our lives unraveling that thread, and weaving and reweaving it. And there’s a measure of honor that comes from having to work so hard at the skills that others seem to master so naturally.

And the reward for all this hard work of integration? There will come an extended moment in time when something or someone will activate your nervous system, stimulate your filter and the narrative that comes with it, and tie you in emotional knots. But this time, you’ll recognize it as it happens. You’ll be able to enter a dialogue. You’ll say to yourself something like, “Oh- here it is again—it’s happening! This person has bumped right up against my need to feel special,” or whatever it is they’ve activated. You’ll notice the signs of activation: elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing, intense emotional reactivity, and an immediate gravitational pull toward a difficult story. “They must not care about me at all,” you’ll start to think. Then suddenly, you’ll remember to feel where that activation is concentrated in your body: often, for empaths, it’s the upper core or solar plexus area. You’ll bring your hands to that area and breathe deeply into it for several minutes. And if it’s still highly engaged, you’ll opt to practice a little longer until you hit your “reset button.”

And all at once, you’ll feel the deep worth of daily empath practices. You’ll find a simultaneous sense of yielding and resilience. You’ll feel a beautiful solidity, as though you’ve colored in your outlines. You’ll discover a newfound sense of your own intrinsic value in the world. And this will be matched by the joy that comes bubbling up from the wellspring of your body.

Being an empath asks us to become fluent in the field of paradox, to metabolize opposing concepts and challenges. How can we engage in rich relationship with others and the world around us, for instance, while finding the silence and space to discover the self and world inside us? How do we find balance between matter and spirit, inner awareness and outer focus, or self and other? And how might we engage in the dynamic interchange between the concept of evolution—which hints at a future self—and the self we are right here, right now?

It may be later in life by the time we truly blossom, but the time, patience, and inner work are well worth the effort. When we learn to regulate our nervous system, create healthy boundaries in our body, and adjust the filter through which we evaluate direct experience, we become truly resilient. And instead of making ourselves small to fit the world around us, to find a tribe where we belong, we learn to blossom on our own. This blossoming draws others to us. And an empath in full flower is an extraordinary thing to witness: vulnerable yet resilient, intuitive yet grounded, and deeply creative, expressive, and magnetic—but with a fully functioning sense of where and how these qualities balance.

Dear Empaths, thank you for your deeply impassioned response to this article! Out of respect for the porousness of your fellow empaths, please balance your sharing of your story with discernment about how the quantity and nature of what you’re sharing. We reserve the right to edit posts, or to not post responses that might cause others to be overwhelmed when reading. However, we do read each and every post. We thank you for taking the time to comment. Please know that you have a Tribe of people to whom you belong. Not only that, there are ways (and this article mentions several) to balance your empath qualities and live a life of balance, boundaries, and meaning.

For specific tools, please reread the “Rx” sections above for ideas. You can also explore our book Yoga for Emotional Balance. And please stay tuned to the Online Courses link on this site; we’ll have a “Yoga for Empaths” course coming out later this year that’s a labor of love to all of you, our Empath Tribe. Peace and blessings,

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