It warms my empathic heart to see the terms "empath" and "empathy" circulating far and wide, permeating numerous fields of study ranging from psychotherapy to occultism. Awareness of empathy and its importance is spreading across every corner of the globe. More and more resources for empaths surface on the Web and other mediums on a daily basis; it really is astounding.
Though interpretations of empathy may be numerous, the essence remains the same through and through: empathy is the experience of emotionally mirroring or absorbing surrounding emotions. Additionally, the experience of empathy requires a response of compassion. Sympathy, on the other hand, can be explained as "feeling for" a person, whereas empathy is more emotionally intimate and could be described as "feeling as" an external emotion. Empaths are individuals who consistently absorb emotional energy and are no stranger to "walking in someone else's shoes."
I feel lucky to have recently contributed to the ever-growing empathic field with my new book, Esoteric Empathy: A Magickal & Metaphysical Guide to Emotional Sensitivity. It is the first book of its type: one where empathy is explored in a magickal or occult context. Still, the book is readable and relatable to a wide range of spiritually and mystically inclined empaths—and goodness knows that most highly empathic souls are drawn to spirituality and the healing arts to one degree or another… and with good reason!
Perhaps over time you've come to realize that you're an empath. You're likely familiar with the ups and downs of empathy. So, now what? For people who are extremely emotionally sensitive, especially to the point of absorbing external emotional energy on a daily basis, it can be a daunting task to discover methods of personal balance. But empathy is not a curse. It is a driving force of social unity, of instigating love, and of helping heal the world. In order to properly help, empaths must be in a state of balance themselves. For the metaphysically inclined empath, these suggestions may be especially relevant for managing strong levels of empathy on life's journey.
- Daily Spiritual Practice. All of life itself is a spiritual experience, so it doesn't matter what your spiritual path is or is not. What's important is how you choose to manage your own emotions and personal energy on a daily basis. Rather than getting swept up in life's tedious daily cycles, take some time out for morning and evening prayer, meditation, ritual, and simple quietude. Start in small increments of time and work up to longer periods of practice. Everybody's spiritual needs are different, so do what works for you; there is no singularly correct way of performing daily spiritual work. Challenge yourself in your daily spiritual dedication and allow the work to come straight from your heart—after all, that is the place from which empaths ultimately function.
- Protect Yourself. Rather than choosing perpetual self-isolation, which is a destructively easy response to empathic overload, choose to protect yourself. Consider constructing shields around yourself through ritualistic visualization on a daily or weekly basis. Common shield visualizations are crystalline, spherical, glassy, or "meshlike" in nature. Try avoiding visualizations of impermeable or reflective shields unless the need is dire, as this can serve to push one's energy too far away from the world. Also, keep in mind that empaths are notoriously emotionally vulnerable, so if a challenging social situation feels like it has compromised your shields, remember that they can be easily reconstructed with additional visualization.
- Environmental Awareness. To the best of your ability, choose to surround yourself with kindhearted individuals who empower your strengths, encourage your happiness, and positively challenge your perception. Naturally, choose to do the same for them! Decide to minimally interact with overly pessimistic and discouraging people, and come up with a game plan of how to react and respond when you are faced with difficult individuals. Also, don't forget to take breaks when needed; some amount of alone time is deeply beneficial for every empathic soul! Additional environmental suggestions include taking good care of pets (love them and receive love!), not spending too much time gaming or using computers, and even considering therapy, counseling, or life coaching during extenuated periods of emotional stress.
- Artistic Expression. Empaths are natural artists. The process of creating art of any type brings energy from the internal to the external. When expressing ourselves, we can find that our psyches and our spirits get a chance to project emotionally energy outward rather than staying locked inside. Art takes every imaginable form. Some people may vibe more with visual art while others prefer musical. Some may resonate with the performing arts, while others feel comfortable writing. There are no artistic limits when intuition is your guide!
- Ritualistically Alchemize. Empaths have the ability to not only absorb energy, but to transmute it. Contrary to popular belief, empathy is not merely absorptive, but can also be projective. Do you ever notice that you can literally change the mood of an entire room simply by your very presence? That's an empathic trait, and goes to show that empathy is an influential force, not just something to be influenced by. So, take it to the next level by choosing to utilize emotion-based alchemy in a ritualistic setting when you are feeling overloaded or overly negative. Cast a circle or use visualization to construct a sacred space. Place an image, an object, or a deity's statue in front of you that represents transformation to you personally. Dedicate and intend this focal point as an object of transformation. Sit with your emotions and gaze at the focal point. You may receive insight into the origin of the emotions you are experiencing: are they yours, someone else's, or a combination of these factors? From the right side of your body, project your emotional force to your chosen focal point. Next, pull the transformed energy from the focal point and into the left side of your body. Sit with these new and magically transformed emotional energies, and carry them through your day. Experiment with this method and others in order to find what works best for you ritualistically when working to alleviate emotional stress.
- Bring It to the Body. It's common for strongly empathic folk to feel regularly disconnected from the physical body. This makes sense because we are guided by our emotions through and through. Our bodies are our temples for a reason; they exist on the manifest plane, serving as sensory vehicles for our consciousness. In order to healthfully function as empaths, we must be mindful of the entire holistic picture. Choose to manage your unique physical body with a balanced amount of sleep, consistent exercise (including Yoga, which is excellent for empaths!), and with medicines as the need arises. It's also wise to take relaxing baths and cleansing showers regularly to connect your energy to water, the element that rules empathy itself.
- Serve the World. Empathy's greatest gift is that of connecting with others. We are natural healers. When we are in a balanced state, we can help facilitate unity and understanding in those around us. We can choose to express this energy with others not only socially, but also through charitable volunteer work, educational activities, vocational social work, art, political activism, and the healing arts. We can also dedicate ourselves to support strictly progressive and earth-conscious companies with our everyday consumer purchases.
- Own Your Strength. Finally, remember that empathy makes you a deeply powerful, charismatic, mystical, and socially influential person, even if you don't always feel that way about yourself. You are a significantly powerful being in a world that desperately needs emotional awareness and compassionate action. As a final note, don't get too paranoid or depressed when life overwhelms you; not everyone is out to get you! The more proactive we can be with our daily experiences, and the more clearly we can perceive life's journey as a series of spiritual lessons, the more deeply we can develop as empowered empaths who are here to help make the world a better place one day at a time.