10 Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) As An Empath
Note: This month I am participating in the Super Natural Healing Summit. Register and you will receive interviews and free gifts from many different healing practitioners once the summit begins on August 15th. This is an excellent FREE way to learn more about healing modalities of all types! My own interview will be featured on August 19th. Register here, and spread the news.
We are living through a very intense time right now, and in the coming months I’ll be focusing here on the energies of this particular phase of history, and how we all can deal with them. Today I want to start with the basics of caring for yourself as an empath. We are all empathic, because to be human means to be connected energetically to everything around you, whether you are aware of this or not. Just as our physical senses are constantly picking up sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and sensations, so our subtle body senses are constantly experiencing the energies present in our environment, emanating from the world mood at large, and from the people around us.
However, there is a spectrum of empathic sensitivity, and if you are reading this blog, which is almost entirely about energy, then you are probably higher than average on the empathic scale. Recently in my private session work, I have been working with many people, women in particular, who are struggling and have not realized just how much they are being weighed down by the energies of the world and people around them. These energies magnify whatever struggle we are personally experiencing. If we take on the dark energy of certain forces in the world, or from the struggles of those around us, it can add to whatever challenges we are facing to such an extent that we feel overwhelmed. While our tendency is to keep focusing on our individual problem or struggle, often just a little empathic self-care can help us just enough for us to break through the fog, and gain the clarity and personal power we need to see things in a new light.
So I encourage you to make these tips a priority for 2-3 weeks and see how you feel. Particularly if you are struggling with a personal issue, give the self-analysis and overthinking a rest for a bit, and just take care of yourself. Most likely you will begin to see the issue you have been struggling with in a new way within a week to 10 days.
One important note on this though – please don’t let this list add to any sense of self-judgment or unworthiness. I actually rarely feature lists like this here because they can so easily become a list of ‘shoulds’, creating a projection of what we ‘should’ do and who we ‘should’ be – a projection against which we always fall short, feeling inadequate. Let your self-care instead be a form of self-love and self-appreciation, of relishing yourself in the form of your body and subtle body.
10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving as an Empath
- Exercise. Yes, exercise! Move your body! Just as stress chemicals in our physical body can result in muscle tension, so energies that we take into our subtle body can become locked there. Exercise helps release and cleanse on both levels. Aerobic exercise is generally best for this, but mind-body modalities like yoga and tai chi, which are based on opening energy lines and centers through physical movement, are even better. Exercise is also helpful in grounding and connecting with your root chakra, which in turn is essential to being able to enforce energetic boundaries. A great way to make the most of this list (and your time) is to combine exercise with some of the other suggestions on this list – hike in nature (#2), swim (#3), or take a combo yoga/meditation (#8) class.
- Spend Time in Nature. Nature emanates its own vibration wholly apart from the human vibration that we are inundated with. Connecting with nature – or even better immersing yourself in it for periods of time – will cleanse human vibration from your system. In addition, the lower four chakras are each linked to specific elements – root/earth, sacral/water, navel/fire, heart/air – and so connecting to these vibrations within nature will particularly cleanse and empower the corresponding chakras. However, it’s important to be discerning – heavily populated parks may carry more human than natural vibration. On the other hand, safety needs to be a priority – don’t trek out on your own as far from all other humanity as you can, placing yourself at risk. In addition, some powerful natural spots are not suitable for spending a lot of time. That’s another whole topic unto itself, but in short, if you ever start feeling spacey or irritable in a location, leave. Pay attention to how a place makes you feel.
- Embrace Water. All the elements have powerful cleansing and healing potential, but water is particularly good for empaths. Water is the element of the second/sacral chakra, which is also linked to our emotional body, so water has a special ability to help cleanse emotions picked up from others from our subtle body. Drink water, sit by water, bathe in water, swim in water – embrace water!
- Limit Screen Time. Both the content and vibration of what we take in from television, the internet, and even books can greatly influence our awareness and lodge in our subtle body. Pay attention to how something makes you feel, and disengage if it’s not good. Yes, there is a place for discomfort in media, even for violence if it is portraying some truth for a greater purpose, but you need to make conscious choices about when, where, and how much to connect. As an empath, more than anything you need to prioritize the integrity of your own energy body, and give yourself enough time media-free to feel what that is like.
- Nest. Make your home a sanctuary, a true nest or womb-like space that creates a sense of nurturing, safety, and cleansing. Consciously select the décor, based on the colors and items that create this sense for you. Make sure there is one place in your home – a meditation corner for example – which is wholly yours, filled with only your energy. This spot can become your touchstone, and once you have spent enough time in it, every time you sit in it you will begin to shed any foreign energy lodged in your subtle body.
- Make Your Sleep Sacred. Sleep is our time to naturally cleanse and replenish, including on our subtle body level. Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by paying special attention to what you watch or read before bed. Make your bed and bedroom a sanctuary, creating the best possible environment for a good night’s sleep. Bathe or shower before bed if you have had a particularly demanding day energetically. And visualize a radiant light as you fall asleep – intend to connect with deep, cleansing light. Each time you wake up in the night, reinforce this. There is a time and place for dreams, and certainly dreams can be a powerful intuitive force, but the most meaningful dreams will emerge from light. If we do not connect with this light early in the night, we will likely spend the entire night playing out the energies we have picked up during our day instead. Some psychological processing is needed, but cleansing and true rest are needed even more.
- Get Enough Protein. Our root and navel chakras are most directly involved in our creation of energetic boundaries and filters, and protein can really help to fuel our root chakra. Protein is grounding and provides a density to our energy field that we can use. You can read more about this in a prior post of mine, Eating for Your Subtle Body.
- Meditate. Any form of meditation will help you to discover the integrity of your own energy field, because you are returning your mind over and over to your own being, from wherever it has wandered. Chakra meditation or pranayama work (breathe based yogic work) has the additional benefit of activating the cleansing energies lodged deep in our subtle body. A chakra meditation with affirmations such as this one can serve this purpose. Of course if you have a more developed meditation practice of any style, build it into your routine.
- Affirm Boundaries. I have purposely waited to discuss boundaries until #9, because it is difficult to really establish and hold firm boundaries if you are not engaging in self-care along the lines of numbers 1-8. It’s also easy to get obsessed with boundaries and avoiding negative energy, focusing on isolating yourself, rather than on the self-care necessary to enable you to interact fully with the world and maintain the integrity of your energy body. Nevertheless, establishing a sense of energetic boundary can be very useful for an empath, especially if you have internal conditioning that you don’t deserve or can’t enforce bounaries (as is common for anyone who experienced abuse of any type as a child.) I have written about how to establish basic boundaries in other places though, so I won’t go into it here. Try this post, or my DailyOm course, which includes a class on boundaries.
- Be Like the Sky. The sky is often used as a reference point for meditation, or as a metaphor for our primordial awareness or essential spirit, because the sky is vast and open, and everything occurs within it. You can expend a lot of energy on boundaries, building a defense around your energy body, or you can expend a lot of energy on self-care and cleansing your energy body. But if you are connected to the open, vast spirit at the heart of your being, and if you are identifying with that rather than with your psychological triggers, much less foreign energy will ‘stick’ with or to you. It is our reactivity, our reaction to all that occurs around us, that pushes our internal buttons, causes us to latch on to it, and pulls energy into our being. The spiritual process is one of re-identifying ourselves with our skylike nature, rather than with our conditioned emotional patterns. It’s a lifelong endeavor (or multi-life!) But as you travel along it, as you become more spacious, the need for a certain kind of boundary and self-protection falls away. You still need to care for your body and subtle body, but being an empath becomes something else entirely. So be like the sky!
If you would really like to explore empathy from an energetic perspective on a deeper level, and how to own the related intuitive gifts, Cyndi Dale’s book on the subject is the best around: