Empaths are people who have sensitive central and peripheral nervous systems, which causes them to be sensitive to sound, light, scent, taste, and touch. They also sense thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations of other people, plants, and animals.
Empathic listening, or empathy, is the ability to understand another person’s situation or feelings. It is a communication skill that involves actively listening to what a person says then responding in a way that is not judgmental, and affirming what was said. This may come naturally, as some people have had empathic listening modeled for them by family and friends.
Empaths have the ability to ‘tune in’ to another person’s life, mirror the emotion, and celebrate joyous occasions or help in times of suffering. This trait makes empaths compassionate communicators.
The Difference Between an Empath and Highly Sensitive People (HSP)
Empaths and highly sensitive people are sometimes referred to as antennas because they receive information about a person’s state of mind–happy, sad, sick, etc.– in close proximity or from a distance, even across the country. The difference is that an empath is also a sponge; they may unknowingly absorb the emotions, thoughts and physical sensations and believe them to be their own. The signal they give then muddles interactions.
People who are empaths and highly sensitive have sensitive central and peripheral nervous systems. Their brain, spinal column, optical and auditory nerves, digestive system, and nerve endings are overwhelmed by the external world. This sensitivity can develop into Extrasensory Perception (ESP), which gives empaths and highly sensitive people information about friends, family, plants, animals, and inanimate objects.
Living As A Healthy Empath
Developing discernment between one’s own thoughts, emotions and physical sensations from others is vital for empaths and HSP’s. This involves asking themselves if the experiences are their own or someone else. “Is this mine?” If not, they need to say silently or aloud, “This is not mine, return it to the owner.”
Spiritual practices like yoga asanas and pranayama or Tai Chi and Qigong strengthen the mind and body. They involve specific body movements and coordinated breathing techniques that help the empath become more aware of their physical and mental strengths and limitations. A daily practice cultivates discernment between their experiences and the outside world.
Creative self-expression helps empaths and HSP’s release stagnant physical, emotional, and mental energy. The options are endless.
- Knitting & crocheting
- Playing an instrument
Many empaths and HSP’s have been medicalized, oftentimes numbing their senses or delaying their reaction to external energy. Complementary and alternative like reiki, massage, reflexology, and acupuncture can be used with Western medicine or as alternative for those who want a drug-free option.
Food is Healing
Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are ancient healing practices from India and China, respectively. Both use fresh food and herbs to heal the mind and body based on an individual’s physical, emotional, mental, and geographical characteristics.
Healing with Mother Earth
Waterways like rivers, oceans and waterfalls are like sanctuaries for empaths, as are showers. Running water creates negative ions and cleanses people’s auric field. Empaths enjoy moments around water.
Empaths and HSP’s are born, not made. Their sensitivities are reflections of a world inundated with noise, pollution, and geopathic stress. With self-care they can be at ease with themselves and the world around them.
The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive While the World Overwhelms You by Elaine Aron, PhD
Trust Your Vibes: Secret Tools for Six-Sensory Living by Sonia Choquette
The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD
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