New Age Concepts

How to tell if you are Empathic



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Feeling a little Empathic?

Part 1 What's an empath?

Empathic ability is perhaps the most common and possibly least understood psychic gift available to humanity. So what is an empath? Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary defines empathy as "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner". In lay terms, being an empath means being able to feel what another person is feeling, either emotionally, physically, or both. Advanced empaths also sometimes have the ability to draw out' physical or emotional pain from another person and take it into their own body, with the intention of then releasing or expelling that pain and curing the subject.

How do you know if you are an empath? Well, because of their sensitivity, empaths tend to have certain tell-tale characteristics or qualities. For example, they sometimes tense up or feel uncomfortable when they enter a room where an argument recently took place, even if the disagreeing parties are no longer present or have made peace. If the argument was particularly bad, or the empath is particularly sensitive, they may actually become irritated themselves, and start snapping at those around them for no reason.

Empaths tend to avoid heavily crowded areas or events, since the energy built up by having many people in one place can become quite overwhelming. You may notice an empath wince or flinch a bit when entering a crowded room or a party, for example. Walking into a room full of people can sometimes feel like being punched in the stomach, depending on the number of people and the frame of mind of those present.

Many empaths have a tendency to be pushovers' or doormats', for several reasons. First of all, they are highly sensitive to energy, which can make it very hard for them to say "no" to anyone who is experiencing pain or need of any kind. Second, most empaths don't know how to shield themselves properly, so when confronted by any kind of intense emotion they have a hard time thinking clearly. An angry finger pointed in their face can cause actual physical pain. Empaths are not just sensitive to negative emotions, however. A highly sexually aroused individual will quickly inspire a similar state of excitement in an unsuspecting empath, who may have an extremely hard time fending off advances, not only because of the arousal but because of their previously-mentioned inability to say no to someone in need. Pity sex' was a term most likely coined by an empath.

An empath is often highly aware of the health and state of mind of their loved ones, no mater how physically near or far away the individuals may be. It is not uncommon for an empath to freak out' for no reason, only to discover later that a friend or family member went through some sort of trauma at that exact moment. This is particularly noticeable in twins or other empaths who spend a great deal of time together, as they will often physically experience the same traumas as their loved ones. For example, one girl suddenly experienced a severe asthma attack and nearly died in the middle of a supermarket, only to find out later that her twin sister had accidentally inhaled battery acid and was being treated at a nearby hospital. The accident and the asthma attack happened almost simultaneously, in different parts of the city. Similarly, many empaths experience a constant barrage of unexplainable aches, pains, and mood swings, not realizing that they are experiencing the physical and emotional states of their friends and loved ones. Sadly, many are misdiagnosed as suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, bi-polar or other mood/personality disorders, schizophrenia, or even hypochondria.

In the past, unidentified empaths often became alcoholics in order to numb the intensity of their experiences. Currently, the trend runs more towards pharmaceutical addiction, with mood stabilizers such as Prozac being the most prevalent. While such drugs can be highly beneficial in some instances, they are best used as a short-term tool, necessary only until the empath is sufficiently trained to no longer need the drug.

Another characteristic common among empaths is that of weight fluctuation, particularly weight gain in earlier-generation empaths. When the mental and emotional bodies become overwhelmed with too much input, the physical body responds by building up layers of protection (AKA fat cells) to buffer them from the energetic overload. This can happen slowly, such as when an empath finds themselves in a long-term relationship with an emotionally intense person; or it can happen very quickly if the empath is suddenly thrust into a high-intensity environment, such as a move from a rural area to an urban center, a new school, or a new job.

Empaths are almost always known as good listeners' by those around them. People intuitively feel that the empath will understand them, empathize with their point of view, and give them moral or emotional support. It is not uncommon for an empath to be approached by a stranger on the street and told intimate, personal details about that person's life. Unfortunately, it is also an almost daily occurrence for most empaths to get a call from an energy vampire', someone who feeds off the emotional and etheric energy of others (usually unconsciously, of course). The empath may be in a wonderful mood, or at least a relatively stable mood, when suddenly they get The Call. The vampire' is usually a friend who is constantly undergoing one emotional crisis after another, and is in constant need of support and reassurance. They talk and vent and cry on the empath's shoulders, sometimes for hours, until they have absorbed enough positive energy to keep them going for a while. Meanwhile, the empath becomes emotionally and mentally drained, often to the point of physical exhaustion. At that point, the vampire' hangs up and happily bounces on their way, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. The empath usually goes and takes a long nap.

Degrees of empathic ability range widely from person to person. In general, women seem to make up the majority of known empaths, since women tend to be more in touch with their emotional nature. This means they are naturally more comfortable trusting their intuition, and are more sensitive to emotional changes, both within themselves and within others. Of course there are many exceptions to this generalization; both sexes are equally capable of using empathic abilities. Western culture, however, has trained men to be as emotionless as possible, making it much more difficult for them to recognize and distinguish subtle energies and emotional shifts. It's pretty tough to sense what someone else is feeling when you don't even understand your own emotions.

If you're reading this, chances are good that you've either realized or been told you're an empath. "Now wait," you may ask; "Why would anyone need to be told they are an empath? Shouldn't it be pretty obvious?"

Unfortunately, Western society tends to be pretty-close-minded when it comes to psychic abilities, and despite the recent surge of movies and television programs that showcase psychics, most people are alarmingly ill-educated on the subject. As such, many empaths believe (or have been told) they are just "overly sensitive," or "too emotional", or they think that the way they perceive the world is normal and assume that everyone has the abilities they do. This causes most empaths a great deal of pain and confusion in their childhood and teen years.

Since an empath can feel others' pain, they tend to be very polite and considerate of the feelings of others. After all, hurting someone else is just another way of hurting themselves, and why would anyone want to hurt themselves? Not knowing that others don't perceive things the way they do, empaths tend to assume that everyone else will be equally considerate. The confusion sets in when they go to school and realize that there are some very rude and inconsiderate people in the world, who have no problem inflicting pain on their peers. More confusion arises as they get a little older, and society's rules of social behavior come into play. Since an empath senses what a person is actually feeling, and not what the person is pretending to feel, they will often act or respond in ways that seem socially inappropriate, which often causes embarrassment and rejection. What empath can't remember a time they tried to reach out to someone who was suffering, only to be angrily rebuffed because the person was embarrassed by what they perceived to be a weakness' that they had hoped no one had noticed?

The young empath generally doesn't know how to handle the intensity of emotion that suddenly surrounds them, and will usually respond by either retreating into a shell (often gaining weight and becoming extremely introverted in the process), exhibiting escapist tendencies (many empaths are proud bookworms or film fanatics), or more rarely by becoming a champion of the underdog' as it were, always sticking up for the weaker ones around them and going to great lengths to protect anyone they feel is being treated unfairly. This also presents itself as White Knight Syndrome', where the empath feels the need to rescue' every needy or abused or emotionally disturbed person they meet, often resulting in a cycle of co-dependent relationships throughout their lives.

The positive side to all of this is that once you've achieved a state of balance in your life, you will make a wonderful counselor, therapist, and healer. Since empaths are usually exquisitely sensitive to the flow of energy as well as both physical and emotional states in others, many are drawn to healing arts such as Reiki, touch therapy, massage, and so on. Even if you don't choose healing as a profession, your presence alone will serve as a calming, grounding force for everyone around you.



Part 2 Out of the Blues

I would like to address one of the most common negative side effects of being an empath: depression. It is an unfortunate fact that a large number of empaths suffer from bouts of depression ranging from mild to deep and chronic. Before one can reach a state of balance and happiness, one must confront the cause of the depression, which can be a very tricky thing to do.

Obviously, chemical imbalance and emotional/mental trauma can be root causes, and need to be addressed first. The only problem there is that most people who are depressed are not chemically imbalanced until somebody pumps them full of anti-depressants. Then they become imbalanced, and things get even worse. I tell you this as someone who was on and off more anti-depressants than I can remember, ever since I was 13 years old.

My best advice is to find a competent, open-minded hypno-therapist. Make sure that all the sessions are recorded so you can go over the tapes later. This should hopefully reveal the root cause of the depression, allowing you to proceed from there.

If the root cause is not a naturally-occurring chemical imbalance, and does not stem from significant mental/emotional trauma, then you've got a couple of other major possibilities. The first is what I call Situational Depression' (which I will continue to call it until someone educates me on the actual technical term for this).

There are points in your life where something needs to change in order for you continue your growth and development. Most times it is something internal; something about the way we think, or act, or feel, or react, or perceive our reality or our selves. Occasionally, though, you may find yourself in a situation that is no longer conducive to your growth and development, and it's time to move on. For example, I was a third generation Jehovah's Witness, on both sides of the family. My entire family, most of my friends, and just about everyone I ever knew or spent time with growing up were all "JW's". When I began to grow beyond the boundaries of that particular faith, I became very unhappy, feeling stifled and trapped. Obviously there was very little I could do about that, except leave, which I did a few days after graduating from high school.

Of course, walking away is usually a last resort. One does not want to fall into the pattern of running away from one's problems. Usually, the only thing that needs to change in the situation is ourselves, whether it's an attachment, a fear, a negative perspective, or a mind-set. Nevertheless, some of us will eventually come to a point where we realize that the situation or person or place or issue we're dealing with is no longer good for us, and that removing ourselves from the situation is the only option that will fix anything. In other words, change the situation, and the depression naturally lifts as we become balanced and positive again.

The second root cause I'd like to quickly address is what I call Empathic Depression'. This is when an empath is getting too drained and not recharging properly, or when an empath is spending a lot of time around someone else who's depressed and absorbing their emotions. Headaches are often a common side effect of this. Either way, grounding properly, setting shields, and recharging regularly are all vital. This brings us to the next section.



Part 3 - Survival guide

"Ok, so I'm an empath. Now what? How do I deal with this?"

With great difficulty, if you're like most of us. It's not an easy thing to be hyper-sensitive in a world that's getting louder, brighter, faster, flashier, and more intense with each passing day. People are getting more and more disconnected from their emotions, which turns the average citizen into a big walking ball of nasty emotional crud, just waiting to explode all over you. Fun!



Crutches

The very first thing I encourage all newly-awakened or newly-identified empaths to do is to find the nearest jewelry store, New Age/Wiccan store, or lapidary (AKA a rock shop). Get some obsidian. Obsidian is a kind of semi-translucent volcanic glass, sometimes used to make arrowheads by the Native American Indians. It doesn't matter how big the stone is; even a small pocket-sized polished rock will do the trick. The best place to keep the obsidian is on a string around your neck, preferably hanging down to the little hollow beneath your sternum, near your solar plexus. Obsidian creates a natural energy barrier, or shield, within the outer layers of your aura. Having the obsidian close to your physical solar plexus will anchor that shield into both your solar plexus chakra, which determines how we view ourselves in relation to the world around us, and your heart chakra, which is all about how we give and receive love (more info about chakras later). This is a good thing, since most empaths have a very low sense of self esteem and are usually easily affected by the opinions and attitudes of others. It's hard not to take everything personally when you feel everyone else's emotions as your own.

If you don't have access to a rock shop, or you don't have the money to spend, the second best option is to find a small round stone that has been worn smooth by water. If you don't have a river, lake or stream handy, check out the nearest railway tracks or graveled parking lot. Stones are a natural grounding tool, and the ones that have been polished by water are particularly good at grounding out negative emotional energy. Find one that you can hold comfortably in your hand, or if possible one with a shallow groove or hollow that you can rub with your thumb. Keep it in your pocket, and whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, take it out and start rubbing the stone. If possible, imagine that all the tension, all the negative energy, and all the extra intensity coming at you is channeled directly into the stone.

After a month or so of use, your stone or crystal may begin to lose its effect. This happens when the stone becomes saturated with negative energy and cannot hold any more. When this happens, you need to either replace or cleanse the stone. There are several methods to cleanse your crystals. The easiest way is to leave it outside or on a window ledge overnight under the full moon, or during a rainstorm. In emergencies, running the stone under cold water for about ten minutes does the trick. You can also let the stones sit in a mixture of water and sea salt for an hour or two, then rinse them off under cool water.

Eventually you will decide to replace the stone, or you will have an intuitive sense that the crystal is burned out' and will no longer work. At that point, it is best to thank the stone for the help it has given you, take it outside, and bury it in the soil. This allows it to re-align itself with the earth's energies and ground out all the emotional crud it absorbed. An interesting side note: if you don't cleanse your crystals often enough, or don't put them back in the ground when they're burned out, they will often shatter for no discernable reason or mysteriously disappear. Strange but true!

Using crystals or stones to create an auric shield to help you stay grounded is what I call a crutch technique'. Just like a pair of crutches, you use the technique until you are strong enough to get along without it. As always, be careful not to grow too dependent on any single tool or technique; eventually it may become a hindrance rather than a help.



Cleaning House

The next step is to reduce the number of negative influences in your life. This can be pretty difficult, since most of the negative influences in our lives tend to be people, and one of the hardest things for an empath to do is to hurt someone's feelings. Nevertheless, this is a necessary step. I compare it to taking out a sliver it may be painful to dig the sliver out, but not nearly as painful as it will be if the sliver stays in there and gets infected. Negative influences are the same... the longer you are exposed to them, the deeper they become embedded, and the harder they are to get rid of in the end.

The best way I have found to set this process in motion is to set boundaries. Start small, and work your way up to the big stuff. For example, set aside a half an hour each day for you to recharge, relax, or do something creative to rejuvenate yourself. Turn off the phone. Don't schedule activities that will infringe on that time. If someone needs' you to talk to them, tell them to call back afterwards. If someone is trying to keep you engaged, tell them you have a previous commitment. You do with yourself. This is sacred time, untouchable. If you don't take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else? You'll burn out, get depressed, and become physically ill, and then you'll have even more to worry about.

Some people may get angry at you for this, or try to guilt-trip' you, saying you're being insensitive or selfish. Think about this for a minute: what kind of friend would ever want to stop you from doing something that will make your life better, easier, or happier? What kind of friend can they be if they're demanding that you set their needs over your own? Is that a loving attitude?

Next, make a list of the three people in your life that demand the most from you, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. Ask yourself: is this an equal energy exchange? Are these people willing to give as much as they take, or do you tend to feel drained and tired after contact with them? If they see that you are in need, do they offer to help? Would you be comfortable asking from them what they feel comfortable asking from you?

In some cases, you may find that the other person does give as much as they take. This is good; that means you probably have a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship. However, it's time to start thinking about what to do about those people in your life that do not reciprocate the time and energy you give to them.

It's not always necessary (or sometimes even realistic) to cut these people out of your life entirely. However, you can reduce or even minimize the amount of time and energy you spend on them. Do it slowly; you're basically weaning them off of an addictive drug, energetically speaking. How does one accomplish this?

Obviously every situation is different, so there is no easy answer to this. I would definitely suggest finding some good books on emotional co-dependency to get you started. What it boils down to, though, is this: get in touch with your own needs, and stop putting everyone else in the world before your self. Tune into your body. Start getting to know the signals your body sends you when you're putting out too much energy, and then act accordingly when you notice those signals. If you're feeling tired or run down and the phone rings, don't pick up the phone. If someone asks you to do them a favor and you don't have the energy, tell them you would like to, but you already have plans. When that energy vampire' friend calls and starts going into their routine, be polite, but end the conversation within a reasonable time limit. What's reasonable? Well, therapy sessions usually last an hour. Anyone who spends more than an hour a day venting their problems to you should probably be seeking professional help, rather than dumping all their emotional problems on their friends.

It may sound harsh, or selfish. It may even feel selfish, in the beginning. Many who begin this process actually feel guilty for taking the time to take care of themselves, at first. This will pass once you start realizing how much clearer your perspective on things have become, how much more energy you have, and how much more efficient you are at really helping people, rather than just absorbing all their emotional baggage.

Now that you've started the process, you need to amp it up a notch. How? Find yourself a hobby. Seriously! Find something - ANYTHING - that gets you in 'the Zone'... that magical state of mind where you are so absorbed in what you are doing that everything else disappears. Writing or journaling, sports, energy-focused physical activity (yoga, tai chi, aikido, etc), art, music, photography, dancing, sculpting, gardening... it doesn't matter what you do. Just find something that absorbs you and give it everything you have. I guarantee you that the more you do this, the happier you will be. You will find yourself thinking more clearly, enjoying life more, smiling for no reason. As an added bonus, you will gradually find yourself surrounded by others who feel the same way.

The final step is to learn a basic grounding technique, a basic shielding technique, and a not-so basic cord-pinching technique. If you have no idea what that sentence meant, don't worry, everything will be explained shortly.



Grounding and Shielding

The importance of grounding out excess and negative energies, and creating permanent psychic shields, cannot be explained by words alone. One has to experience the difference to truly understand how necessary it is.

In modern electrical systems, there is always a ground wire in place to protect the internal system components from damage caused by surges of excessive electricity. The human body, and its internal energy system, is not much different. The only difference is that most people don't know how to connect the ground wire, so to speak, to bleed off the excess energy. So what happens? As with any electrical system, the internal components become damaged.

In practical terms, this means you get headaches, sleep disorders, constant muscle and joint pain (also known as feeling fried' literally feels like you have been electrocuted, except it doesn't go away), weight gain, lowered immune response, and usually severe depression. Why?

Well first of all, as an empath you're basically like a big antenna, picking up every frequency of energy in the vicinity. The more energy you channel without being properly grounded, the more insulation your body needs to protect itself. Water and fat make for pretty good resistance, so the body creates layers of protection. This explains the constant water retention and weight fluctuation many empaths experience. Once you've learned to ground out the excess energy and shield yourself properly, the weight begins to disperse naturally, as the body no longer needs the added layers of protection.

Second, every time you start picking up on someone else's aches and pains, your body responds as if there was something wrong with you. This creates a lot of stress on your immune, endocrine, and central nervous systems. Eventually your immune system get worn down from fighting phantom symptoms, and this leaves you wide open to every second flu or cold bug that's passing through your neighborhood. Once you've learned to shield yourself, you'll no longer be as easily affected by everyone else's symptoms, allowing your body the time it needs to regenerate itself and get your health back to some semblance of normality.

Third, being constantly bombarded with other people's emotions is enough to give anyone a headache, but it's worse because most of the time you don't even know where it's coming from, which adds an element of confusion to the mix. Since most people tend to be worried and fearful most of the time, you're absorbing a lot of worry and fear each day. Add the fact that empaths are everybody's favorite counselor, which means that you probably spend several hours a day listening to someone else's problems, and it's not long before you start feeling like you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Now factor in the fact that most empaths feel very alienated because no one seems to understand the way they view the world, and you have the beginnings of some serious mood and personality disorders.

This can be a very serious problem. Some empaths who are surrounded by extreme negativity, or who don't understand the nature of their gifts, become cutters', either physically or otherwise. This means that the emotional pain becomes so unbearable, and the need for release so intense, that the empath resorts to hurting themselves to find relief. Some do this by physically cutting or otherwise hurting themselves (usually wrists, legs, inner thighs, or anywhere they can hide it), while others will resort to destructive and self-damaging behavior such as extreme promiscuity, heavy drinking and drug use, or eating disorders. Anything that can provide a sense of release, externalize the pain, or take their mind off it even just for a while, is considered fair game for these unfortunate souls. If the situation is bad enough, even suicide starts to look like a realistic and reasonable option. Fortunately, once the empath learns to ground out the negative energy and put up a psychic shield, the pain and feeling of being overwhelmed subsides to a more manageable level, and eventually disappears.



Pinching the Cords the concept

In order to explain this concept, we must first explain how empathic ability, and in fact all psychic ability, works.

From the ancient mystics and shamans of thousands of years ago, to the modern priests of quantum physics and string theory, humanity comes up against the same fundamental truth: we are all One. All entities, all beings, all Life, all forms of physical matter and energy everything is connected on a quantum particle level. It is inescapable. Every moment of every day, you are affecting all of existence.

Most of the time, our connections to the outside universe are so subtle as to be undetectable. However, just as the synaptic connections in our brain related to a specific memory become stronger each time we access that specific memory, so to the connection between people grows stronger with each conversation, each meeting, and every touch. It is through this connection, or cord, that an empath receives information. Most mystics throughout history have agreed that these cords' usually enter and exit the physical body around the navel area (with various exceptions, of course). This sheds some light on the term gut instinct', and the idea of having a gut reaction' to someone or something. Do you remember the last time you met someone who made you feel extremely uncomfortable? You may have noticed a tightening of the muscles in your stomach and abdomen, which is a common fear response. Once you become more sensitive and in tune with your body, however, you may begin to notice that your stomach tightens up before you have any conscious reason to be afraid or uncomfortable. This is because the energy of the person or situation that is approaching is being picked up through the cords and interpreted as a threat by your subconscious mind, which then sends your body the signal to activate the fight-or-flight response fear.

The energy flowing through the cords does not just flow one way. We are all both sending and receiving at all times. The more contact we have with a specific individual, the stronger the connection with them gets. Simply put, the cord gets bigger, allowing more energy to flow between the two of you. This is wonderful as long as the person has a positive impact on your life. But what happens when the person is really negative? And worse, what happens when the negative person is someone we must deal with every day, such as a parent, spouse, boss, or schoolmate, or co-worker?

In the case of someone who's constantly angry and lashing out, the empath becomes a sort of psychic punching bag, absorbing each wave of negativity that the angry person sends out. Being exposed to a high amount of intensely negative energy like that on a daily basis feels much like being physically beat up. Your body has certain response mechanisms in place to protect you while it's actually happening (like going into shock, spacing out, etc), but the after-effects can be devastating.

If, in the other hand, you are surrounded by one or more of the previously mentioned energy vampires, you probably feel like the life is literally being sucked right out of you, which is pretty close to what's actually happening. As the person is yakking on and on about how terrible their life is and how difficult their situation is to deal with and so on (and on, and on, and on), the negative emotional baggage inside of them is being transferred through the cord into you. Simultaneously, positive life force energy is flowing out of you, through the cord, and into them. This is why empaths make such good therapists; you don't really even have to say much, since just venting to you and being in your presence automatically makes the person feel better. Of course, unless you know what to do about the energy drain, it doesn't help your state of mind much.

So what to do about all this energy flowing in and out of you, uncontrolled? Well, you learn how to control it. The simplest way to do that is to pinch' the energy connection between you and the other individual, until only a consciously decided amount of energy is allowed to flow in or out. That way, nothing gets into your energy system that you haven't allowed there, and nothing gets taken out of your energy system unless you give conscious permission. This is much easier said than done, of course, but don't worry, you can do it. Part 4 will present some basic techniques that will work for pretty much anyone.



Part 4 Basic Techniques

Before we begin, I would like to make it clear that these techniques come from a variety of spiritual paths, and have been floating around in some form or other for hundreds, if not thousands of years. A quick Internet search will probably reveal many versions of each of the techniques presented here. I encourage you to try out whichever version of whatever technique works best for you. This is not about doing it the way it's always been done', or holding up one particular way of doing things over another, or glorifying any particular tradition or belief system. This is about doing it the way that will work best for you. The only way to know what works best, of course, is to practice, to try things out for yourself and see what clicks for you. I chose these specific techniques because they were simple and easy to follow, and because I have had extensive personal experience and success using them.

In the beginning, you may find it difficult to remember all the steps without breaking concentration to read what you're supposed to do next, especially with the longer techniques, so it can be helpful to have someone read this to you the first few times. Another option is to use a computer or tape recorder with microphone to record your own voice reading the instructions to play back for yourself later.

I have found that doing the grounding and shielding exercises each morning gives me a boost of energy and stability that can last all day. They are also highly beneficial if you find yourself in a difficult situation at any point throughout the day. Finally, I have found that by grounding and shielding myself before going to bed, I sleep better and feel more rested in the morning. Try it out for yourself!



Grounding

Short Version

This is to be used if you are in a hurry, or are in a public place where you'd rather not draw much attention to yourself.

Take a moment to get as comfortable as possible. If you can, close your eyes and take a few gentle, cleansing breaths while touching the tips of your pointer fingers and thumbs together, letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. When you're ready:

Draw in three deep breaths. As you do this, clench your fists and imagine that all the stress, all the excess or negative energy, all the frustration and intensity that have built up in your body is surging into two tiny burning-hot marbles of energy, one in each of your clenched fists. On the last inhale, hold your breath for three seconds, summon all your willpower, and with one quick exhale open your hands, palms towards the ground, and fire the two glowing balls of energy deep into the earth below. As you breathe in again, imagine a cool current of air gently swirling through your whole body, gathering up any last remnants of negativity or stress, then calmly flowing down your legs and out through your feet into the floor, leaving your body filled with a warm, golden glow.

Take a few gentle breaths to center yourself, smile, and continue on with your day.



Long Version

Get as comfortable as you can. If possible, find somewhere to sit with your spine erect, either cross-legged or with both feet firmly planted on the floor. Place your right hand under your belly-button, palm in, then place your left hand over top of the right and touch the tips of your thumbs together

Now focus your breath on the space inside you beneath your palms. Imagine that with each breath, a ball of warm soothing light grows a little larger in that space, until it reaches the approximate size of a softball or a small melon. It doesn't matter what color this ball is; just let the visualization flow naturally.

Once you've got this ball of light clearly pictured, take one more deep breath in, hold it for three seconds, and then exhale slowly and deliberately. As you exhale, imagine that the ball of light shoots gentle tendrils or vines of light down and out of your body, deep into the earth below.

As you reach the end of your exhale, imagine these vines or tendrils turning into deep, sturdy roots, like the roots of a mighty oak tree, reaching deep into the earth and anchoring you there. As you inhale again, imagine the roots growing larger, stronger, more powerful; on the next exhale, imagine them pushing even further into the ground, deeper and deeper, until you feel as if there is more of you below ground than there is above. Finally, imagine that you have reached all the way down through the bedrock and deep into the earth's molten core. Now take a moment to center yourself and take a few gentle breaths. Feel your connection to the earth. Notice if you can feel the spin of the planet on its axis. You may notice that already with each breath you begin to feel stronger, more physically and emotionally stable.

Now begin to notice all the stress, all the nervous energy, all the negativity that you may have accumulated in your body throughout the day. Wherever you find tension or pain, imagine that it is like a dark viscous liquid, like crude oil. Imagine that with each breath you are drawing all of that pain, all of that negative energy, out of the various points in your body and into the ball of light in your center. As you draw the pain out of each area, make an effort to consciously let that part of your body relax into its natural state. As the dark liquid is drawn out, imagine that it is immediately replaced by a warm, golden healing light that sinks into your muscles and bones, giving an immediate feeling of relief and peace.

Build up the negative energy inside the ball of light within you until you can't fit any more in there, or there is no negativity left in your body. Now take one more deep breath in, summon all your will-power, and with one strong exhale, push all the dark nasty stuff down and out of your body, deep into the earth. If you don't get it all out in one shot, don't worry; keep pushing it out with each exhale until you feel that you have cleansed it all out. Let the earth swallow it all up, knowing that this energy will be recycled and turned into something positive by the wonderful forces of nature.

Once you feel that you have flushed all the negative energy out of your body, take a few more gentle breaths to center yourself. When you're ready, imagine that with your roots you are reaching down one last time, deep into the earth's molten core, and gathering up as much of that strong, grounding energy as you need. Draw the energy up out of the ground, up through your body, up through the ball of light and into the rest of your body, filling your entire being with a strong, stable glow of deep earth energy. As you breathe out, imagine that you are locking this energy into place, that it now fills every atom, every molecule of your body.

Now, take a moment to anchor this state to a physical trigger of some kind. In other words, you want to think of some small physical movement you can do that will instantly bring this feeling, this state, back to you in any situation. For example, tap the thumb and middle finger of your right hand together three times. Do this each time you reach this point in the exercise. Eventually, that action will be anchored to this state, which means that you can trigger this state any where, anytime just by tapping your fingers together.

Finally, take a few more gentle breaths to center yourself again. Once you're ready, smile and open your eyes.



Quicker Techniques

There are a myriad ways to ground and cleanse unwanted energy from your physical, emotional, and etheric bodies. Which one you should use depends entirely on you, the situation, the environment, the issue, and how much time you have, so pick one that seems like it might work for you and try it out. If the previous techniques didn't work for you, or the situation demands a different approach, here are a few more suggestions.



Ritual Shower - Water is a powerful tool. Obviously we use it to cleanse ourselves physically, but it is equally useful in cleansing ourselves energetically. There are several versions of this technique, but here is a simplified one:

While in the shower, stand under the flowing water and let it wash over you as completely as possible. Take a few gentle breaths to center yourself, then slowly turn a full 360 degrees three times, each time affirming "I cleanse my Self".

On the first spin, imagine that the water is flowing through the top of your skull, down through your neck and throughout the rest of your body. Envision all negative energies and impurities, all disease, all pain, all strain and tension being rinsed away from your physical body.

On the second spin, envision all thoughts and pre-occupations, all worries and fears and other negativity as being dark stains on the screen of your mind. Imagine these being washed gently away, finally dissipating like mist on a warm sunny day.

On the third spin, imagine that all problems, all challenges, all the potholes in your life's path are like a grey mist that surrounds you. Reach outwards with your awareness and imagine that the shower is not just a shower, but a warm gentle rainstorm that expands outwards over a 500-foot radius around you, clearing away the mists and then gently dissipating into golden sunshine.

If possible, do this at the very end of your shower. When you've completed the visualization, slowly turn off the hot water, bit by bit, until the water is as cool as you can stand it. Let the cold wash over you for about 30 seconds or so, then shut off the water.



Crystals - Every psychic, New-Ager, Wiccan, and metaphysical book out there will give you a different explanation of the properties of each kind of crystal. This is because every crystal will react to your personal energy field in a unique way (just as colognes smell differently on one person than another, depending on their unique body chemistry) I've included a few here that I have found useful, and how they work for me. As with everything, you'll need to experiment and see what works best for you in your situation.

Normally I recommend Obsidian to empaths, as it works well for shielding without creating so heavy a barrier that it cuts you off from things altogether. However, if you're extremely sensitive or going into a very difficult situation where you need extra protection, try Jet or Black Onyx. Personally I feel that Jet is really good at dispersing negative energy, letting you "ghost" right through it, while Onyx creates a solid, impenetrable shield. Onyx is a power stone... be careful as you will usually attract attention while wearing it.

Hematite is also good for both grounding and shielding, but this one comes with a warning: Just as the polished stone can have a mirror-like appearance, so it so you may find it brings up many mirrors for you regarding your deepest emotional issues. Be prepared, and don't use it unless you have the strength and energy to handle a few emotional challenges.

Tiger's Eye can be very useful as well. It works well when worn, of course, but I've also found it to be very useful for protecting my living space. A small piece over every opening to the space (doors, windows, etc) will create a natural circle of protection for your home.

Petrified Wood, I have found, seems to create a deep connection to the earth and nature. As such, it is naturally grounding, and will automatically tap you into deeper wells of energy to project into your psychic shields.



Nature - There is nothing as grounding as, well, the ground. Lay on your stomach with your face to your left. Let yourself sink into the terrain... imagine your whole body taking root and becoming one with the plant life around you. Take deep breaths, breathing in the life-force deep within the earth and blow out into the wind all the negativity and fear within you. Imagine that every particle, every molecule, every atom in your body has rejoined the womb of the earth, and been replaced by one that is fresh and clean and new. Draw the power of the earth into yourself. Now, turn and face the sun. Let it shine into you, melting away your stress and frustration. Imagine the light seeping into your pores, cleansing your physical body as well as your aura. Soak up the energy and the warmth until you feel ready to move again. Take a few gentle breaths to center yourself, and smile!




Shielding

Once you've grounded out the negative and recharged yourself with positive energy, it is time to put some safeguards in place to make sure your system doesn't get all clogged up again. Again, there are hundreds of ways to accomplish this, and I suggest trying out several techniques to see what works best for you. Meanwhile, here are a couple of simple techniques that will get you started.



Short version

Close your eyes for a moment and take a few gentle breaths to calm and center yourself. If possible, touch the tips of your pointer fingers and thumbs together, letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. Now, take a deep breath in, and visualize a brilliant white tube of light flashing down from above you, completely surrounding you. Take a moment to breathe this light in, and imagine it filling every cell in your body. Imagine that the tube of light around you becomes an invisible force-field or shield that automatically repels any negative energy and returns it directly to the sender. Know that the more intense the incoming energy gets, the thicker the shield will be, and the calmer you will become.

If you are being menaced or feel threatened by a specific individual, visualize the tube of light coming down around the person who is making your uncomfortable. Visualize their anger or negativity as a dark mass within their heart. Watch as the light penetrates their body and infuses their every cell with a golden glow, which melts away the dark mass within them until it is gone. Stay calm, remember to breathe deeply and deliberately, and begin projecting love towards them. If possible, visualize a beam of warm golden light streaming from your heart to theirs, warming them up from the inside, melting their anger and frustration away.

Finally, take a few gentle cleansing breaths to center yourself, and of course don't forget to smile it'll confuse the heck out of anyone who's trying to stay negative!



Long version

This version starts out using the same technique as the shorter one, but expands on it and gives you an anchor so you can summon the shield at will, later on. As with the grounding technique, the more times you do it, the stronger the shield becomes and the better the anchor will work in emergency situations.

Close your eyes for a moment and take a few gentle breaths to calm and center yourself. If possible, touch the tips of your pointer fingers and thumbs together, letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. Now, take a deep breath in, and visualize a brilliant white tube of light flashing down from above you, completely surrounding you. Take a moment to breathe this light in, and imagine it filling every cell in your body. Imagine that the tube of light around you becomes an invisible force-field or shield that automatically repels any negative energy and returns it directly to the sender. Know that the more intense the incoming energy gets, the thicker the shield will be, and the calmer you will become.

Now take a moment and imagine some sort of clothing that symbolizes protection and power to you. It could be a suit of armor, a black Cat-woman' or Batman' type suit, a magical cloak, a business suit, or so on. It doesn't matter what you use, as long as the image holds power for you. Now, in your mind's eye, see this armor as clearly and as detailed as possible. Visualize it surrounded by two layers of light: first, a silvery white light, first, that sinks into the armor and makes it completely invincible. Second, a golden white light that surrounds the armor at all times and transmutes any incoming energy into positive energy that will strengthen you. Now put the armor on. Feel the power in it, the grounding energy that flows through you when you wear it.

As before, think of a physical action that you can anchor as a trigger to this state (it helps if this is similar to the anchor you picked for the grounding technique). Perhaps you choose to snap your fingers twice. Imagine that by performing the action, the trigger, you are activating your armor and calling down a tube of light simultaneously. Practice a few times imagine yourself without the armor, then snap your fingers twice and see how the armor instantly wraps around your body, while a brilliant white light surrounds you and creates in invisible energy barrier. Every time you perform the trigger action, the suit and the light manifest more quickly, and grow more powerful. Keep practicing until this becomes like second nature, and you feel completely comfortable. You now have instant protection at the snap of your fingers.

Finally, think of an individual or a situation that you find challenging, or that makes you feel afraid or uncomfortable. Activate your armor and your energy barrier. Imagine a brilliant beam of golden white light flowing outwards from your heart, bathing the person or situation in warmth and love. If it is a person, infuse them with love and light until the anger or negativity falls away, and they stand naked before you. See them as they truly are; a spirit in a human body who has forgotten who they really are, and are lost in a cycle of anger and negativity. Try to feel compassion for them, rather than anger or fear. If compassion is too difficult, at least try to become completely indifferent to them, not caring what they say or think or do in any way.

To complete this technique, take a few more gentle breaths to cleanse and center yourself. Smile, and open your eyes.




Pinching, Plucking, or Cutting the Cord

Earlier in the chapter we explored the idea of energetic cords that connect us to other people. It is time now to take that concept one step further. When we become emotionally involved in or attached to something, be it a person, a place, a situation, a relationship, or so on, we create an energetic bond with it. Just as the bond can be created, so it can also be destroyed. In a way, these energetic cords are very similar to garden hoses; they can be pinched, they can be disconnected (or plucked'), and they can be cut. You must choose which is the most appropriate based on your situation.

Pinching the cord is most useful in a situation involving someone who is a regular part of your life. Perhaps a spouse or co-worker is highly stressed and is affecting your energy levels, or maybe one of your friends is being an energy vampire and you're finding it difficult to cope with. You don't want to remove the person entirely from your life, but you know you need things to change. In a situation like this, one needs to consciously govern the energy flow between yourself and the other party. Pinching the cord is a good way to accomplish this.

Plucking the cord is for the more difficult situations, such as a break-up, divorce, or releasing attachments to someone who is no longer in your life. In this case, you want to completely disconnect the energy cord between you and them, to make letting go and moving on a little easier. Plucking the cord accomplishes what the name implies; you find the cord, pull it out, and remove it from your energy field entirely.

Cutting the cord is for severe instances, where neither pinching nor plucking has been effective. For example, if you need to separate yourself from an entire group of people at once, or you wish to disassociate yourself from a situation completely; if you've plucked a cord repeatedly but have allowed it to reconnect each time; or perhaps you're trying to let go of a desire that doesn't serve you anymore (such as an addiction). In these kinds of situations, cutting the cord is your best option.

There is no short version of this technique. Find somewhere you can sit or stand comfortably with your spine erect. Your surroundings should preferably be quiet and dimly lit, as this allows for easier concentration. For those who have difficulty sensing the energy, make sure the air in the room is as still as possible, with no noticeable drafts or airflows. Try to make sure that you will not be interrupted, as it is very important to complete the technique in its entirety for it to be fully effective. The instructions will be written as if you are working with a cord connected to another person; however, the process is the same when working with a connection to a place, situation, desire, etc.

Let us begin!

Start with a few gentle breaths to cleanse and center yourself. When you are ready, close your eyes. Visualize a brilliant white tube of light flashing down from above you, completely surrounding you. Take a moment to breathe this light in, and imagine it filling every cell in your body. Imagine that the tube of light around you becomes an invisible force-field or shield that automatically repels any negative energy. Take a few more deliberate breaths, until you are ready to proceed.

First, become aware of your hands. Notice the temperature of the air, the texture of whatever they are resting against. Wiggle your fingers, stretch them, and shake them out. Take a few more gentle breaths.

Now, take your dominant hand and hold it up, palm towards you, about two inches away from your forehead, close enough to feel the body heat reflected from your hands and your head. Become familiar with this feeling, and then move your hand away. Shake out your hands, blow on them, and take a few more gentle breaths.

Next, move your hand back up to your forehead, but this time, hold your palm approximately 4-6 inches away from your forehead, just above the level of your eyes. Gently move your hand back and forth until you feel a sensation that is different from the body heat you felt earlier. Everyone describes this sensation differently; some feel a magnetic push or pull, some describe a tingly' sensation, and others feel either a hotspot' or a sort of cool breeze that seems to flow from that point on your body. However it feels to you is fine. Find the sensation, and move your hand around a little to get acquainted with the feeling. How far away from your body can you sense it? Play with the energy a little, get used to the feeling. This is the energy of your Third Eye Chakra.

When you are ready, form an image in your mind of the person you wish to be disconnected from. Think about them. Picture them in the setting in which you were in contact with them most often. Imagine their mannerisms, their scent, their tone of voice. Notice how the energy feels while you are doing this.

As you hold the image of them in your mind, begin to move your hand down the center axis of your body, keeping it at the same distance from your body as it was from your forehead. You may feel a strong sensation when you pass your heart area; ignore this and continue moving your hand downwards until you reach the level of your stomach. With the image of the person still strongly in mind, move your hand around until you feel the same sensation as you felt at your forehead.

Once you have found the sensation, notice how large it is in diameter. Is it the size of a pencil? A nickel? A garden hose, perhaps? Larger? See if you can encircle this area with your thumb and pointer finger. Can you touch the tips of your thumb and finger together, or is the cord even larger than that? Find the edges; get a general feel for the size of the cord.

(*Note: from here the procedure changes slightly depending on whether you're pinching, plucking, or cutting. Jump to the appropriate section below, complete the instructions, then move on to the final instructions.)

Pinching Once you've got a good feel for the cord, wrap your dominant hand around it and get a good grip. Now, simultaneously squeeze the cord and turn it a quarter turn counter-clockwise. Did you feel it get slightly smaller? How about a tightening in your stomach muscles? Take a few deep breaths, re-focus, and continue squeezing and rotating the cord counter-clockwise until it reaches the size you want. Most healthy cords are usually anywhere between the size of a pencil to the size of a quarter. A strong cord between you and a loved one may be larger than that though, so use your intuition to determine the proper size for you. Once you've reached the right size, take a deep breath in and then exhale sharply while visualizing a rush of white light and love energy shooting out from your belly, fully flushing out and cleansing the connection between you and the other person. As soon as you've completed your exhalation, firmly pinch the cord between your left thumb and forefinger. Move your right hand up to your forehead again, and imagine that a glowing white ball of light the same diameter as the cord comes out of your forehead and into your hand. This is a white-light filter, or screen. Bring the ball of light down to your belly and place it inside the cord, just outside your body. Now slowly unclench your left hand and allow the energy flow naturally. The screen will now automatically filter out any negative energy flowing towards you. (Proceed to final instructions)



Plucking Once you've got a good feel for the cord, wrap your dominant hand around it and get a good grip. Slowly move your hand away from your body, as if pulling the cord outwards, until you feel you stomach muscles clench a bit, or until you feel a bit of a tugging sensation. Now, take three deep breaths. On the third breath, breathe in as deeply as you can and hold it for a few seconds; imagine the air rushing around the point on your body where to cord connects, loosening it. Now with one quick motion, jerk the cord out of your body with a quick, sharp exhale. Simultaneously, clamp your left hand down on your body at the place where the cord came out and apply some pressure, as if it were a physical wound. With your dominant hand still holding the cord tightly and your other hand maintaining pressure on the spot where the cord was plucked from, say the words "I release you" with firm conviction. Bring the cord up to your mouth, take a deep breath in, the blow into the cord as hard as you can, simultaneously opening your hand wide. Watch the cord wither up, incinerating itself and crumbling away into dust. Take a few gentle breaths to ground and center yourself. Now reach up to your chest area and imagine that a glowing ball of light, the size of the old cord, comes out of your heart and into your hand. This is the equivalent of a psychic bandage. Move the ball of light down to where the cord was and flow it into your body, patching the hole and filling it with the light. Rub the spot on your body where the cord was and envision a gentle glow coming from your hands, sealing and healing that spot. (Proceed to final instructions)



Cutting - Once you've got a good feel for the cord, wrap your non-dominant hand around it and get a good grip. Slowly pull your hand away from your body, as if pulling the cord outwards, until you feel you stomach muscles clench a bit, or until you feel a bit of a tugging sensation. Now, hold out your dominant hand and make your fingers rigid, as if you were going to do a "karate chop". Take three deep breaths, and with each breath, visualize a piercing white light running in a ridge-line from the tip of your middle finger, down along the outside contour of your hand, along the underside of your arm reaching about halfway to your elbow. Imagine that this piercing white light has turned the bottom edge of your hand and arm into a razor-sharp sword of light, capable of effortlessly slicing through absolutely anything. Now, take three more breaths. On the third breath, breathe in as deeply as you can and hold it for a few seconds while seeing the air rushing around the point on your body where to cord connects, loosening it. Raise your knife-hand, and with a sharp exhalation, slash downwards between your left hand and your body, cutting easily and cleanly through the cord. Simultaneously, let go of the cord with your non-dominant hand and clamp down on your body at the place where the cord came out of you. Apply some pressure, as if it were a physical wound. Take a deep breath in, say the words "I banish you!" in a firm tone, and with your dominant hand make a slashing motion in front of you, releasing the white light blade into the cord as it withers up, incinerating itself and crumbling away into dust. Take a few gentle breaths to ground and center yourself. Now reach up to your chest area and imagine that a ball of light, the same size of the old cord, comes out of your forehead and into your hand. This is the equivalent of a psychic bandage. Move the ball of light down to where the cord was and gently flow it into your body, patching the hole and filling it with the light. Rub the spot on your body where the cord was and envision a gentle glow coming from your hands, sealing and healing that spot.



Final instructions Now that you have finished, it is important to balance your energy, both physically and psychically. Visualize a brilliant white tube of light flashing down from above you, completely surrounding you. Take a moment to breathe this light in, and imagine it filling every cell in your body. Affirm to yourself that every cell in your body is perfectly healthy and balanced. See the light swirl around you in a clockwise direction, charging you up and energizing you. Take a few minutes to breathe gently and enjoy the sensations in your body. When you are ready, take three deep breaths, smile, and open your eyes.

If you cut or plucked the cord, and did not spend enough time filling your body with light afterwards, you may feel some pain or aching in your heart or stomach. If this is the case, hold your hand over that spot on your body and visualize a glowing white light surrounding your hand, expanding into your body and filling the place where the ache is. Hold it there until you feel more comfortable.



After-care The next three days may be a little strange. You may feel some weird tingles or rushes of energy in various parts of your body, as your energy system recalibrates itself and comes back into balance. You will probably find that you have more energy in general, and you will definitely find more clarity regarding the person or situation that you were having difficulty with.

On the emotional front, you may find yourself experiencing unexpected emotional releases, which can manifest as mood swings, crying for no reason, etc. This is the body's way of cleansing the emotional baggage' out of your system. Don't try to stop it, unless absolutely necessary; if you are in a situation where protocol dictates control, then make sure to take some time at your earliest convenience to have a good cry, engage in primal scream therapy, create whatever form of art appeals to you most and allows you to express yourself freely, or even beat the heck out of a pillow. Anything that helps you release those pent-up emotions is good.

One major word of warning though: when you cut or pluck a cord, the other person will know that something has happened. They may not know it consciously, but they will definitely know on it a subconscious level, since suddenly they are not receiving the energy from you that they are used to. Consciously, they may just feel oddly troubled or frustrated, like there's something wrong. Obviously, they will want to re-connect as soon as possible to make up for the energy loss; they may call you out of the blue or suddenly make some sort of unexpected contact. Even if you don't hear from them in person, you may find that their cords start to ping' you for a few days, in an attempt to reconnect. You will know this is happening if you suddenly find yourself thinking about them out of the blue, dreaming or daydreaming about them, etc. Anytime this happens, repeat: "I release you" and imagine that you are literally plucking the thought of them out of your head and tossing it away to your left. Keep doing this until you don't find yourself thinking of them any more, or when you do think of them, there is no accompanying emotion other than compassion. Success!

 

More about this author: David Burgess

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