Our bodies are made of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms to the tune of approximately 99% composition. At their deepest core, atoms vibrate and have plenty of space between their components, relatively speaking. That is where magic lives. My desk I am writing on now feels hard and substantial to the point that I would not love to slam my head into it. On a subatomic level, however, it is in constant motion and has a disproportionate amount of space in between its moving parts. That is where magic lives. When something is moving, its malleability increases. We can extrapolate from this the conclusion that on a very deep level, the cells in our bodies are in constant motion and are therefore, malleable.
The atoms of stones, roots, and herbs also vibrate. Sound is a vibration. These vibrations affect us when they intermingle with our own vibration.
Likewise, we absorb the vibrations that other people emit, some of us more so than others. These vibrations increase when we are in distress. This lets our “herd” or “tribe” know that we are in trouble. It activates a herd mentality that says, “Go on high alert, we have a problem here.” Sometimes, we don’t have an actual problem, but more that Steve (arbitrary name) is an alarmist and always believes there is a problem. Regardless, it pings our human safety alert system and sends the entire surrounding group, including other species, into a fight or flight status. All of us have likely watched a dog get antsy its human feel anxious about something or is in danger. We have seen children react when a parent is fearful. Even when empathy is not our thing, we react to perceived danger vibrations coming from others. In times of multiple global distresses, we are all empaths, whether we normally are or not.
[Possible trigger warning in the next section]
I prepared a conservative list of some of the anxiety-provoking experiences occurring or heightened in 2020 (so far):
- Aliens may be real
- Murder hornets
- Riots and Looting
- Protests managed ala Tiananmen Square
- Spike in African American people murdered without cause (certainly not limited to 2020)
- Large portions of the country on fire
- Larger portions of the country deal with smoke from those fires, which includes toxic chemical release in the smoke
- COVID-19 fear
- Fire tornados
- Hurricane Laura in Louisiana
- Hurricane Sally in Florida
- Political Corruption no longer even attempting to hide but just right out there
- Arbitrary PG&E blackouts
- Unprecedented unemployment
- Distance learning
- Managing kids at home and child care
- The closure of well-established businesses
- Unprecedented homelessness
- Election anxiety
- Mask anxiety
- Dropping of the masks (even more scary)
- A spike in non-COVID related deaths
- Inability to be with loved ones who are dying, marrying, graduating, giving birth, or celebrating birthdays or holidays
- No toilet paper or other necessities
This is only a tiny representation of the stressors many of us deal with daily. I am sure you could add to the list. Literally, as I typed this, a press release announced that President Trump has ordered the end of all negotiation for a new stimulus packet that would provide relief to thousands of struggling Americans. 2020 is the gift that keeps on giving… and taking.
In addition to those issues, we have the lack of available relief with no sports, no concerts, no theme parks, no theaters, no bars open, no hugs, minimal recreation of any kind, and limited travel. Due to mask use, we can no longer read the faces of people around us to determine friend or foe, threat or kindness. We are forced to rely on our long-dormant natural instincts to relate to one another. For those of us who are even slightly hearing impaired and depend on seeing lips to understand what people say to us, communication is even more complicated than usual.
In situation such as these, there are really two ways we can effectively manage our energy. You are seeing the result of one of those ways, which is to cut off our ability to feel. Evidence abounds that many people are now desensitized to the distress and pain of others. COVID-19 victims are numbers, not names. Soldiers lost in war are body bags, not the child of grieving parents or parent of grieving children. People who no longer respond to or even mock those around us most in need dominate the news and social media.
The second way of managing our energy in global crisis is to take ownership of our response to the incoming energy. We can find ways to effectively manage the energy we absorb from outside sources and process it through in a healthy fashion. It can be done. Part of my training as a Bruja involved learning to remain passive and continue to hold space for clients who share deeply personal and horrific behaviors, both inflicted on them and by them. In this case, I must be passive and receptive, allowing them space to share without allowing judgmental thoughts to create boundaries. It is not easy, but it is possible and these little tricks can add up to an improved quality of life and health of spirit for a struggling empath.
1 – Isolate
This is likely one of the hardest for those who thrive on personal contact with others. One of the greatest tools in surviving as am empath, however, is the ability to separate out our own energy from the energies arounds. That happens best in isolation. I am not talking about sensory deprivation, but being alone, even in the bathroom or the wee hours of the night, to feel your own energy exclusive of anyone else’s. Even those nearest and dearest to you. Just a few minutes of isolate each day makes a huge difference in your ability to unlace your energy from that of others.
Most of the MANY people who say, “I just can’t meditate” have a completely inaccurate understanding of what meditation is, at least in the beginning. Meditation is not the lack of other thoughts. It isn’t even “nothingness” or silencing the mind. Meditation is about being still. It is about relaxing into the space that is free from worry and programmed thought. It is about taking 15-20 minutes to release yourself from external influence and just be. If we do this, we will naturally move toward that ideal meditative state that advanced seekers achieve. For now, just make yourself comfortable and relax into your own thoughts and your own space, resisting intruding thoughts of fear, anxiety, or worry.
3 – Name the feeling
What are you feeling that is uncomfortable. Give it a label and then decide if it belongs to you or is appropriate to your circumstances. Are you suddenly angry without reason or provocation? Then you are likely picking up on the emotions of someone close to you. Are you disproportionately fearful? Anxious without a specific source of that anxiety? Then these are not likely YOUR feelings, but a projection from someone else. Use some of the tools in this list to disconnect from the person whose feelings you have absorbed. The most common feelings that inadvertently transfer from person to person are fear, anger, hurt, and anxiety. If happiness, joy, and gratitude were as contagious, we would all have a better quality of life. Identify the feeling and then decide if it belongs to you or someone else. An empath often feels the energy of others and unless they take inventory, may believe those feelings are their own without evidence to support that belief.
Everyone has their own energy tracing and through isolation and meditation, you can learn what yours feels like. In truth, you are likely already doing this. If you are able to sense when your friend is upset with no contact from them, you’re doing it. If you can tell when your partner is out of sorts or your child is in trouble, you’re doing it. We have the innate ability to sense and read the signals of those who are closest to us. This is again our “herd” mentality at work. Reading your own signature is even easier than reading those around you because it is more familiar to you. Invest the time in learning what YOU feel like. This allows you to more easily identify what does and does not belong to you energy wise.
5 – Be still
For those Type A personalities and ADHD sufferers, being still is hell. If you can manage even 10 minutes, however, it will help you to settle into your own body and reconnect with your organic energies. For an empath, this is vital. Physical movement distracts our focus from they energy moving through us. That is why exercise helps to relax us when we are anxious. Stillness allows us to focus, however briefly, on what we feel so we can identify its source and manage what is not ours.
There is a reason why Pontius Pilate symbolically washed his hands when he removed himself from the decision of Jesus’s execution. Washing your hands grounds your energy almost instantly and provides the visual imagery of something leaving your body. Even better, shower. We come out of a good shower as new people with new beginnings in place. Whenever I was desperately sad, my mother used to say, “Now get your cry out, then go wash your face and put on some make up. You’ll feel better.” And I always did and still do. Washing cleans more than just your skin. Baths don’t count. That is just stewing and brewing. Not great imagery for our goals here. Instead, let the empath energy flow off of you and down the drain.
7 – Breathe
We hold our breath when we are overwhelmed with emotion or else it becomes staggered, rapid, and erratic. This breathing is not just about in and out, but about calming breathing. Try these exercises when your emotions (or someone else’s emotions) get the better of you:
Pranic Breathing: Rest your tongue gently against the roof of your mouth. Breathe in through your nose for a count of six, hold for a count of three, breathe out for a count of six, wait for a count of three, breathe in the nose for a count of six, hold for a count of three, exhale for a count of six, and continue for a total of nine rounds.
Left-Right Breathing: Sit in a relaxed position. Take several deep breaths in and out. Using your right index finger or thumb, close off your right nostril and inhale for a count of six, quickly switch to close off your left nostril and exhale for a count of six. Keeping your left nostril closed, inhale through your right nostril for a count of six, then close off your right nostril again and exhale for a count of six. Keeping your right nostril closed, inhale for a count of switch, then switch to your left nostril for the exhale. Continue this for nine rounds.
Deep, measured breathing keeps you plugged into your body and thinking during times of crisis and keeps hysteria and anxiety at bay.
8 – Have a mantra
Develop a mantra or soothing phrase that you repeat to yourself during times of overwhelming anxiety or empathic overload. Mine is “water over rocks.” It reminds me to let things flow over me and pass away like water flowing over rocks. I accompany it with a mental visualization of water flowing over rocks. Yours might be, “I am a badass” or “I am safe.” Find the words that soothe you and use them when you feel emotionally overloaded.
9 – Shield yourself
Shielding is a visualization technique that energetically protects you from outside energy. Use can use white light, mirrors, an imaginary suit of armor, a hamster ball, or any other mental image that helps you feel protected. Remember that we cannot effectively work magic while inside a shield, so if you magic is afoot, drop the shield to let it out. Shields are vital for an empath.
10 – Grounding
Grounding gets us back into our bodies and on earth again after working ritual or other magical endeavors. It also helps us to reconnect our spirits to our bodies when we spin out emotionally. The following are ways to effective ground ourselves, just as electricity grounds:
- Put your hands in or on dirt
- Walk barefoot in grass or directly on the earth
- Hold black stones like tourmaline or obsidian. Even black river rock works.
- Wrap as much of your body as you can around a tree and hold onto it
- Sit with your butt on the earth
- Wash your face and hands (see above)
- Eat protein
- Change your clothes
- Take a nap
11 – Create distance
Empathy and energy absorption is directly proportionate to proximity. It is much easier to read about homelessness, for instance, than it is to encounter a homeless person face-to-face. It is easier to intellectualize a battlefield than to be on one. Separate yourself from anyone who is overwhelming you with emotion or sucking in your energy. If you must attend a gathering with a known vampire, position yourself away from them. If you have to attend a function where you know you will encounter a past abuser, try to keep as much distance and as many shields as you can between you and them. For a true empath, this is nothing less than good survival strategy.
Empaths are notoriously horrible at setting and defending boundaries because they can feel how strongly the other person wants what they want. Arguments are horrible for empaths because they can feel not only their hurt and anger, but that of the other person as well. Regardless, for your own quality of life, you should establish boundaries and promise yourself you will defend them. Refuse to attend gatherings that you know will make you uncomfortable. If you know you get peopled out after an hour, then know you are going to leave an event after an hour. Set the boundaries you need to protect yourself and do not allow others to compromise them.
Much of our worry, anxiety, and emotional overload comes from what we read online or hear on the news. Take a time out from all media, including (gasp) social media. Separate yourself out from your abuser which is, in this case, information and opinion. As humans, we are still wired up to process what happens in our immediate environment, village, or clan. Now, we have to manage bad news from the world over and the opinions of people who we would otherwise never meet. Take a break and sit with your own thoughts for a while.
Invent an astral guardian that protects you from the bad things. Call the guardian to you or invent it visually. Is it a big hell hound? A dragon? A panther? A grotesque or gargoyle? Find your protector and then ask it to walk with you and protect you. Establish a dynamic with your thoughtform and learn how it interacts with you and the outside world. I used to have a dragon that squatted on top of my house and protected everyone inside. Find your protector and you will find that over time, it becomes sentient and reacts to threats around you before your conscience mind senses them. Your hell hound growls? You look around, see the threat and start moving. Think of it as an astral empath service animal.
If you suspect or know you are an empath and react to the emotions of others, do not immerse yourself in a crowd. Stay to the outside fringes of large groups at gatherings.
16 – Arrange your own transportation
Again, if you know you are sensitive and have a people limit, try not to depend on others for your transportation to any event. It is unlikely that their people limit is the same as yours and the ability to leave is important if you become energetically overwhelmed.
If you feel overwhelmed by energy but are obligated to continue being present at an event, step outside and breathe for a while. Practice the breathing techniques in item #7. Do some grounding. Wash your hands. Recite your mantra. Re-establish your shield. Once you have effectively grounded and shielded yourself, you will be better able to go back and re-immerse into the energy once more.
18 – Practice mindfulness
Guilt is a focus on yesterday and worry is a focus on tomorrow. These two forces are so strong that very few of us are here and plugged in, having a “present.” When we invest in “now,” we shuck off a ton of non-essential emotional heavy lifting. That helps us to make space for the emotions we genuinely need to carry in the present time.
Although stillness is a valuable tool for cultivating mindfulness and separating out your energies from those of the outside world, it is also important that you find joyful activities. I am talking about doing something you love like playing a musical instrument, singing, jogging, drawing, painting, working crossword or jigsaw puzzles, stitching or sewing, ceramics, or some other activity. Find a creative outlet into which you can invest excess energy.
20 – Insist on time for recharging
The biggest mistake most empaths make is that they do not allow sufficient recharging time, especially when children and partners are needy. Make no apologies for your need to have time to practice the above techniques. You are entitled to some time each day for your own mental and spiritual health. Make recharging a priority. If you are frayed and frazzled from emotional overload, it interferes with your ability to be present and dialed in for the connections that are important to you. By working hard to protect and value your own quality of emotional and empathic life, you give a better you to everyone around you.