الرئيسية Self-Care for Empaths: 100 Activities to Help You Relax, Recharge, and Rebalance Your Life
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Thank you for downloading this Simon & Schuster ebook. Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. INTRODUCTION When a friend tells you over coffee about her recent breakup and starts crying, do you tear up, too—maybe even before she does? When your son gets accepted to his dream college, does your heart chakra (an energy center in your chest) expand, making your energy body buzz and hum? If you find yourself particularly susceptible to absorbing the energy and emotions around you, you might be an empath. Empaths have hyper-perceptive nervous and energetic systems that allow them to feel the energies and emotions of others as if they were their own. Empaths aren’t only capable of feeling more from those in their intimate circle and immediate vicinity, like friends, family members, and coworkers, however—they can also be affected by global energy or something happening to a person, animal, or place they have only read about in the news. An empath can even sense things happening when they haven’t been told anything at all! It’s a deeply connecting experience to be able to feel more of the emotions and energies in the room or even the world. But feeling so much can also be taxing. You might tire easily, find your mind filled with ongoing chatter, or feel emotionally drained. The self-care activities in this book are specially designed to help you overcome these challenges so you can enjoy the blessing of your magical empath nature. Working as a professional intuitive, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know thousands of empaths from all over the globe and all walks of life. From their experiences and my own, I’ve cultivated one hundred e; mpath-specific self-care tools to help you enjoy and engage with the world around you in a more nourishing, empowered way. The exercises, quizzes, and rituals in this book will help you: • Stay grounded by identifying issues that typically frazzle, drain, and overwhelm most empaths. • Avoid burnout by utilizing your powerful sixth sense to mindfully tune in or out of others. • Remain centered in your own energy instead of trying to manage another person’s emotional experience. • Retreat and recover to rebalance your sensitive system and emerge refreshed and energized. • Support your physical body to develop more energetic and emotional stamina so life feels magical, meaningful, and joyful. • Work with the energy of spaces to create an empath sanctuary environment. When you focus on your self-care with these ideas (and dozens more), you can better manage your sensitivity so that, depending on the situation, you can set boundaries with people and collective energy or open up to feel in to people and situations. You’ll learn how to create, identify, manage, and harness energy, as well as how to practice techniques that support your sensitive nervous and energetic systems every day. This book encourages you to create healthier relationships with others, advocate for yourself, process your emotions, and make the most of your ability. With practice and mindfulness, you can learn to turn the volume up or down on your sensitivity, and regularly re-ground back in to your own energy or come home to yourself. Feeling more—from everything and everyone—can greatly enhance your human experience. Being an empath is a magical way to travel through life, and the tools in this book will help enrich your own empath journey, making it more fun and more fulfilling. Keep your unique body, mind, and spirit balanced, healthy, and happy with Self-Care for Empaths! CHAPTER 1 Understand Your Empath Nature Think of being an empath as having a more open or porous emotional and energetic system. For example, the person sitting at work next to you might be naturally wired to be attuned to their own energies and emotions, but you as an empath are wired to pick up on your energies and emotions and those of others around you. So the micromanager at work may not bother your coworker but might really get under your empath skin. That’s because the anxious energy of this micromanager can sometimes register in your own system (we’ll address how to better protect against that throughout this book). Or you could be invited to the wedding of someone you really don’t know well and still feel incredibly touched as the couple is toasted by loved ones, dances around the room, and gazes at each other adoringly. Someone else at the wedding might marvel at how deeply this is affecting or moving you, since you barely know the couple. Your strong emotional reaction occurs because you are able to feel the couple’s joy and tenderness as if it were your own. That’s just part of being an empath. In this first chapter, we’ll explore your empath nature so you can better understand this fascinating, layered aspect of yourself and why you need special self-care tools to maintain harmony and balance in your life. WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN EMPATH Empaths have a few key qualities in common. To determine if you might be an empath or identify which empath qualities are most prominent in you, ask yourself the following questions. • Do I sometimes feel overflowing with emotion, like bursting with excitement when something great happens in my life or deeply sad for a friend who is going through a hard time? (Empaths not only feel a lot; they can feel things deeply and intensely.) • Do I experience other people’s energies and emotions so intimately that it’s as if other people’s energies and emotions are my own? (This is the hallmark trait of an empath.) • Can I often sense what is really going on with someone emotionally, whether they share this verbally/with facial expressions or not? (When someone is trying to conceal or mask their own emotions, empaths can usually tell quickly what the real emotional story is going on underneath.) • Am I very moved by the energy of spaces? (Empaths can feel at home and comfortable—or feel very much not at home and uncomfortable—in a certain house or park or office. Empaths also understand that spaces have collective energy that has built up over time.) • Do people tend to want to open up and share their emotional experience with me? (Just being around an empath’s energy has the ability to make others get in touch with and want to process their own emotional experiences.) • Can I feel the energy in plants, trees, bodies of water, and crystals? (Empaths are very sensitive to energy and naturally understand that it resides in everything.) • Do I get physical cues about energy and emotions, such as chills when someone shares something that resonates with me or brief nausea when someone near me is feeling sick? (Some empaths are so sensitive they can feel, temporarily, the physical states of other people.) • Am I afraid I will get overwhelmed by the energies and emotions of others? (Empaths sometimes feel the need to hide out as a way to cope with emotional and energetic overwhelm.) • Have parents or partners accused me of being too sensitive or too emotional? (If so, know that you don’t need to feel shame for being sensitive to energy or feeling emotions deeply—whether you’re an empath or not.) • Am I incredibly moved by the stories of animals and people I read about in books, hear about in the news, or see in the movies? (Empaths have an energetic heart that is easily touched by others, even fictional characters or people and animals they have never met.) • Is it sometimes difficult for me to be assertive and get my needs met if standing up for what I want will cause uncomfortable emotions in someone else? (Since empaths easily absorb other people’s energies and emotions, they can fall into people-pleasing tendencies.) • Do I sometimes feel as if I lose myself in romantic relationships, or have a little piece of my heart taken away when someone leaves my life? (Empaths can bond intensely and quickly with people and sometimes struggle with codependency.) • Do I cry easily, like when I am moved by something I see on television or when someone else I know is upset or happy? (Empaths are easily moved by things outside of themselves, which can bring on the waterworks.) • Does life seem full of wonder to me, and do I get great meaning out of small moments that others might miss or feel are insignificant? (Because empaths pick up easily on subtle stimuli, they can live passionately and feel big feels from “small” experiences.) If you answered yes to many of these questions, you are probably an empath. Keep in mind each empath will be somewhat unique in the way they experience this phenomenon, and that you might amass more experiences over time. You could initially answer no to some of these questions but then say yes several years later. Whether you have been having these empath experiences since you were a young child or the empath in you has only more recently awakened, you’ll find support in this book. FINDING YOUR PLACE IN THE WORLD Being an empath is simply the way you were set up to experience life: by feeling and sensing more. It’s not necessarily good or bad, right or wrong—just a little different! Your power comes by realizing that your empathic ability is simply part of how your internal GPS is naturally wired to navigate life. Empaths are often subject to generalizations and myths that falsely define them. For example, your sensitivity does not make you weak or too emotional, nor does it hold you back from experiencing the larger world—empaths can have any type of profession, for example. On the other hand, being an empath doesn’t mean that you are inherently wiser, more enlightened, more gifted, or more worthy than anyone else. While empaths may need to be more mindful of the amounts and types of energies and emotions they expose themselves to, being an empath is not an excuse to opt out of the more challenging emotional and energetic situations in life. Life is full of ups and downs, and if you opt out of the tougher parts to protect your sensitive system, you will unfortunately also miss out on the rewarding experiences too. If you ever feel you just can’t handle life, please don’t judge yourself. That’s a sign you need more support. Getting more support when you need it is a crucial part of healthy self-care. We all need help getting through this life, whether we are an empath or not! You might turn to the assistance of loved ones, trusted colleagues, and/or healthcare professionals in addition to the exercises in this book. Be sure to practice radical self-love too (we’ll work on that in an exercise later on). THE FOUR MAIN PSYCHIC PATHWAYS To better understand yourself as an empath, it helps to learn how the four main psychic pathways—clairaudience, or hearing intuitive guidance; claircognizance, or knowing intuitive guidance; clairvoyance, or seeing intuitive guidance; and clairsentience, or feeling intuitive guidance—operate in your everyday life. When you understand your own system, you’ll know how to better nurture it, and part of an empath’s system is a strong intuition, or sixth sense. Your intuition, which gives you guidance via the four main psychic pathways, helps you navigate the world—and it can also help you navigate yourself. Among other things, your intuition will give you guidance about how to better take care of yourself, or alert you to self-care issues that need your attention. While I use all four “clairs” in sessions with clients, I also rely on them in my personal life for compassionate, comprehensive self-care. These terms—the four “clairs”—might seem fancy, but they can be explained in simple language. For example, all empaths are naturally strong in the clairsentience, or feeling, psychic pathway. Clairsentience is that feeling you get when a major purchase, like a home, is a good one or meant for you—perhaps you sense warm, inviting, positive energy around this home, or feel unexplainably at home when you walk through the door for the first time with a real estate agent. Or it could be the uncomfortable, something-is-off vibe you get while interviewing at a new company. This type of energetic or emotional impression is naturally quite developed for most empaths. While it may not be something we can see with the naked eye, for empaths, energy and vibes are things we can feel very clearly, and should never discount. Empaths can easily access this clairsentient psychic pathway. But you might be less familiar with the other three psychic pathways. Like with any other skill set, the more you practice and use these pathways, the more adept you may become at them. Keep in mind that clairaudience and clairvoyance are the rarer psychic pathways to have open, yet you don’t need to be able to access those to have rockstar intuition. • Clairaudience: Hearing intuitive guidance as a voice in your head that is not your own. The voice will sound calm and offer helpful advice. (This voice is different than the voices people with mental illnesses or severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies or hormone imbalances can experience, which might be distracting or unpleasant.) • Clairvoyance: Seeing intuitive guidance as images in your mind. Sometimes these images will be straightforward, like seeing the image of a friend’s face when you’re wondering whom to confide in. But the images can also appear as a metaphor, like seeing a lush landscape of dark, fertile soil and lots of vibrant green plant life when you’re pondering the future possibilities of a romantic or business relationship. • Claircognizance: Knowing intuitive guidance, often as aha moments or mental downloads that appear in your mind fully formed. These are thoughts that pop into your head and are often out-of-the-box solutions, not thoughts that are emotionally charged or conclusions you got to by logical deduction. While some of the concepts in this workbook are very mystical, they’ll become less intimidating when you approach them in a practical way. That’s really important for a grounded empath to remember. Explore the Four Main Psychic Pathways Pick one of the psychic pathways and concentrate on using it more mindfully for one week. Your intuitive system is unique, just like you, so you might find you’re naturally stronger in one or two psychic pathways—but feel free to play with them all, knowing that a new-for-you psychic pathway could open up anytime! This exercise will help you understand and develop your intuition so you can better recognize all the important self-care guidance it sends. • Clairvoyance: Pay attention to the images that pop into your mind but are not obviously attached to a thought, like thinking of your mom and seeing her face. To kick-start clairvoyance, meditate once a day for 10 minutes, and see what images come as your eyes are closed—or open. This is all about receiving. Let the images arrive without forcing them. • Claircognizance: Observe the thoughts that appear in your mind fully formed, out of the blue, as out-of-the-box solutions to problems or different angles on situations, like thinking your boss’s blistering critique of your performance is more about her own stress levels due to her challenging situation at home than it is about you. Look for fresh insight. • Clairaudience: Notice if you hear a calm, comforting voice in your mind that is not a thought and not your own voice. You might hear one word or full sentences. Clairaudience is probably the rarest psychic pathway to have open. For me it opened around the age of thirty and took some getting used to! If you don’t hear a voice in your mind, pay attention to the words you hear others speak, whether it’s overhearing something poignant at the grocery store or hearing a line in a movie that speaks to a challenge you’re facing. This is also intuitive guidance. • Clairsentience: This psychic pathway is your empath superpower! Focus on the emotional, energetic, and even physical sensations that could be coming from your intuition. Help activate or enhance clairsentience by connecting with your heart chakra. Each day, for a few minutes, find a quiet place to sit with your hand over your heart. Notice any sensations you feel. Intuition is not a substitute for consulting your logical brain, experts, or past experiences in the world—but your sixth sense is an important complement to those things. So use it! SPECIAL SELF-CARE NEEDS OF EMPATHS Being an empath makes you a little different, which means your self-care practices need to be a little different too. Because you have hyper-perceptive nervous and energetic systems that pick up more easily on subtle stimuli, you are more prone to overstimulation and will need to build mindful retreat-and-recover time into your schedule. Retreat-and-recover time involves unplugging your nervous and energetic systems from the larger grid and doing things that are more low stimulation, where there is simply less of others’ energies and emotions to take in. Classic examples of retreat-and-recover time are reading quietly beside a partner before bed or getting lost in a solo creative project, like knitting on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Retreat-and-recover time is just one of the many empath-specific self-care practices we’ll cover in this book, but it’s an important one. Because energy is something you’re very sensitive to, learning how to nurture, connect with, and manage your own energy is another important self-care tool. Processing your emotions, and developing empath-friendly techniques to do so, helps you avoid getting caught up in the emotions of others. Just because you can feel other people’s emotions does not mean you are responsible for their emotions. Paying more attention to your own emotional experience helps you avoid going into that of others in an unhealthy way. While empaths are naturally wired to tune in to the energies and emotions around them, you can learn to mindfully tune in—or tune out—by engaging witnessing energy. We’ll look at different situations and why you might choose to tune in or out in each. Balance is the golden rule for empaths, and we’ll cover ways to cultivate more balance in all areas of your life, including creating more energetic balance in your physical home. If you already have some self-care activities that you practice, you can continue doing those as well. For example, eating a healthy diet, taking supplements or medication, getting plenty of rest, exercising in moderation, having nourishing relationships, finding emotional support, being of service or giving back, engaging in activities that light you up, and maintaining a good work-life balance are self-care principles that work for anyone. THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING GROUNDED “Grounded empath” is a phrase you’ll see throughout the book. But when people talk about being “grounded,” what do they really mean? They might be referring to taking care of practical things, like filing your taxes on time or remembering to take supplements and medication every day. Or they could be referring to a feeling of being secure—feeling calm, confident, safe, and open. Or they could mean grounding yourself by standing with your feet on the earth, connecting you to its energy and power. All of those definitions of being grounded work for the topic of self-care. For empaths, being grounded is feeling centered in yourself and your own emotional and energetic systems. Staying grounded is essential for empaths because empaths experience more invitations or excuses to go in to the energy of others because they can so easily pick up on the energy of others. That’s why we’ll talk about it so much in this book, and why there’s a chapter dedicated to keeping yourself grounded (see Chapter 2). Being an empath is truly a magical, mystical path. But what gives you the most access to your empath sensitivity—and an ability to better manage, guide, maximize, and even control that sensitivity—is being very grounded in an earthy, practical way. Maintaining a mindful self-care practice is the best way to stay grounded. That includes the practical aspects of staying grounded—keeping your life running in a smooth, orderly, pleasant manner—which is why we even touch on financial health in this book. There will be times in your life when, because of certain circumstances (like a health, relationship, or financial challenge), you struggle to feel grounded. Those are the times to lean in even more to a routine of mindful self-care. Taking care of yourself will help you feel like your life has some sort of predictable rhythm you can trust. This book is here to help you find that rhythm. Create a Nature Heart Mandala Rituals are a mindful way for empaths to reconnect to their own energy! Rituals require presence and focus, and can help you ground yourself. In this ritual, you’ll get clearer on the larger meaning, for you personally, of being an empath. How does being an empath serve you, and how might it also serve others—like in your relationships, activism, or profession? In Sanskrit, mandala means “circle,” referring to symbolic art used in Buddhist and Hindu religions for sacred ceremonies, practices, and meditations. Mandalas represent the universe and how everything is connected—as an empath you can feel intimately connected to the larger world. Many empaths feel more centered and calm in nature, and working with nature elements can have a similar effect. For this exercise, you’ll need beautiful, interesting nature elements procured in a sustainable way, such as fresh flowers from a farmers’ market, leaves fallen from a tree in your backyard or neighborhood park, or rocks purchased at a local garden center. Collect an assortment of objects of different sizes, shapes, and colors, like shells, twigs, pine cones, and feathers, then follow these steps. 1. Locate a place in your home where the mandala can sit undisturbed. Avoid high-traffic areas and places pets frequent. If you have small children, explain that this is a special piece of art close to your heart that everyone can enjoy looking at but not touching. 2. Mandalas are a sacred endeavor, so decide how you can make the experience feel more sacred. For example, you could listen to sacred music during the construction or say a quick prayer or blessing before you begin. 3. Have fun arranging your objects in the shape of a heart, symbolic of your energetic empath heart. (Search for images of nature mandalas online for inspiration if you like.) Get creative. Become lost in the process. 4. Notice your state of mind as you construct this mandala. Does your mind quiet and enter a meditative state? Do memories, emotions, and interesting thoughts bubble up? Rituals can be an awakening, healing experience. Keep coming back to gentle questions, like “Why am I an empath?” and “How does this/can this serve me and possibly others?” 5. Say another blessing as you close the ritual. Stand back and take in your mandala. Put your hand over your heart chakra and take a few deep breaths to ground yourself. 6. If you feel comfortable, share an image of your mandala on social media with the hashtag #groundedempath or #empathselfcare. Or you might feel more comfortable sharing this creation with only a few trusted loved ones. 7. Keep your mandala out on display for at least a few days. Add things if you feel inspired. When the insights you wanted have arrived, or the energy of your mandala feels less alive or inspiring and more neutral or even stagnant, lovingly disassemble it. Consider composting the nature elements. Take a moment to thank them for their gifts! CHAPTER 2 Stay Grounded Feeling your own energies and emotions as well as those of others as if they were your own is a deep emotional experience that most empaths cherish. Yet being an empath also has its challenging aspects: Because you are sensing more, you can more easily become overstimulated, which can lead to more easily feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, or drained. You might have to be more mindful of staying connected to yourself and prioritizing your own energies and emotions since you can so immediately and intimately tune in to others. Your self-care practice, which will include empath-specific self-care techniques, is your best shield against empath burnout. In this chapter, we’ll explore how to avoid (or at least minimize) some of the more distracting or destabilizing aspects of being an empath so you can savor all the good stuff. And there is so much good stuff! When an empath is feeling grounded—stable, calm, confident, and centered in their own energies and emotions—life can truly be a magical, miraculous journey. Identify Your Top Empath Energy Drains As an energy-sensitive person, you have to protect your own energy against situations that drain you. I’ve listed eighteen common empath energy drains. And here are three ways to use this list to identify what could currently be draining in your life. OPTION 1: Use your intuition. Instead of reading through the following items, use your intuition to arrive at a number between one and eighteen. Feel in to each number, see a number in your mind, hear a number in your mind, or experience a deep knowing about a number as a thought. That number (or numbers) corresponds to your top drain. OPTION 2: Focus on the present. Read through the following list and, after reading each entry, determine the top, or top three or four, empath energy drains active in your life right now. OPTION 3: Reflect on your past. Read through the following list and identify the top drains you’ve struggled with in the past. The following situations can be particularly draining for empaths: • Procrastinating or letting important tasks pile up. • Overcommitting yourself. • Overexposing yourself to violence on television, in the movies, or in the news. • Trying to change someone’s opinion of you by actively winning them over. • Attempting to contain, change, or otherwise control someone else’s emotional experience so you don’t have to feel their challenging emotions secondhand. • Gossiping about others or getting emotionally and mentally caught up in their lives to avoid facing your own issues. • Worrying about what other people think of you. • Avoiding potentially emotional confrontations that might be healthy or serve you because you fear absorbing someone else’s emotional reaction. • Not getting enough personal space in an intimate relationship. • Trying to talk yourself out of an emotion because the emotion might be challenging, inconvenient, or even devastating. • Keeping the emotional peace at home or in the office at all costs. • Being continually cast as the emotional buffer between people at home or at work. • Being micromanaged. • Finding yourself in tight physical quarters where you don’t have much space between you and other people’s bodies, or being alone in a physical space that is brand-new or very large. • Not feeling physically comfortable: in your chair, in your clothes, and the like. • Disliking the aesthetics of your surroundings. • Having to be “on” around groups of people for extended periods, like at conferences or large family gatherings. • Having someone you love or interact with daily not respect your energetic and emotional boundaries. Once you identify your top energy drains, look for ways to minimize them. For example, if a coworker is always putting you in the middle of his conflict with his manager, offer your coworker some advice on handling this manager and then encourage his healthy personal growth by suggesting he navigate this situation on his own. You could also find a way to get support for this drain, like talking to a therapist or reading books by psychology experts. Create Your Recipe for a Delicious Energy Day Empaths should be especially mindful of the habits, activities, people, and places that make them feel uplifted, grounded, and peaceful. Think of these positive elements like ingredients in a recipe for a delicious energy day. Whip up one of these delicious energy days—or part of one—on a regular basis. The following prompts will help you better identify which ingredients create delicious energy in you. • What people do you love hearing from and being around? • Where does your energy body breathe a sigh of relief and you’re so happy or relaxed that you lose track of time? (Examples: your favorite store or market, a special yoga studio, your back porch, a friend’s kitchen, or a place of spiritual worship.) • What activities help you decompress or what activities do you miss when you don’t engage in them? (Examples: writing; walking; baking; knitting; reading; having a heart-to-heart chat with a close friend; hiking in nature; blowing off steam with a group of friends; dancing; playing an instrument; attending a live concert; receiving a healing service, like a massage; talking to a coach or intuitive; or cuddling with your partner or a pet before bed.) • Which grounding routines help you feel centered and able to focus on and harness your energy? (Examples: meditating, doing a nighttime skincare routine, praying, engaging in full- or new-moon rituals, journaling, spring cleaning, practicing gratitude, or getting out of the office at lunch to take a walk.) Make your answers to these prompts your go-tos whenever your energy feels off, but don’t wait until then. Add the ingredients of delicious energy to your life every day! Pull an Oracle Card Each Morning Oracle decks are a divination tool that can enhance intuition (similar to tarot cards) and come with all types of themes—everything from mermaids to self-love. Selecting, or “pulling,” an oracle card each morning allows you to focus your energy on something inspirational throughout the day. When your energy is focused, you are less likely to be distracted by other people’s energies and emotions. For this exercise, use a deck whose energy is soft and encouraging, like Tosha Silver’s The Wild Offering Oracle. 1. Hold the entire deck between your palms for a few moments. Clear your mind and take a few deep breaths. Silently set the intention to pull a card that will resonate in a supportive way for you today. 2. Find your shuffling technique by experimenting with different options: • Gently begin mixing up the cards. When you sense it’s a good time to stop, pick the card on the top or the bottom. • Mix up the cards, then fan them out. When a certain card grabs your attention, pick that card. • Mix up the cards, keeping your hold on the cards loose enough and shuffling quickly enough that a card will eventually stick out 1 to 2 inches above the others. Pick that card. A card might even fly or jump out dramatically, which is called a jumper card. 3. Read the words and look at the images on the card. Ask yourself how this card relates to your life specifically right now. Don’t forget to consult your intuition! 4. Put the cards away and go about your day. If you find yourself absorbed in someone else’s energies and emotions, revisit the words and imagery on your card—and your curiosity about its meaning for you—as a way to ground yourself in your own energy. Where your thoughts go, your energy flows. When you’re frazzled, drained, or overwhelmed, try to focus on something calming, healing, or inspirational to re-center yourself. Develop a Personalized Method to Process Your Emotions Because empaths have so much emotional information coming in (from themselves and others), it can become more challenging, at times, for an empath to identify their own emotions. Emotions have important messages behind them, so it’s important to recognize and process your own. The following are several techniques, especially useful to empaths, for processing emotions. You might find different techniques more useful at certain times or for certain situations. If you ever feel out of control with an emotion, seek out the help of loved ones and professionals. You deserve all the support you need. • Listening to music: Is there an artist who makes you feel all the feels? Put their music on while you clean the house or make dinner. This music will be an emotional catalyst, helping you unearth what you’re feeling lately. Already know you’re really happy or really angry? Put on music to dance around to, or listen to music that expresses a sense of injustice—if enhancing the feeling proves too intense, transition to chill music that calms your sensitive system. • Moving: Take a walk, hit the gym, or attend your favorite yoga class. If you’re recovering from an injury or illness, honor the pace your body needs now. If you’re restricted in your physical movement, move what you can: your hands while working on a creative project (like crafting), or any part of your body through gentle stretching. As you move, ask your body about your recent emotional experiences. The body can store emotions until you’re ready to process them. Allow your mind to enter the meditative state that repetitive physical activity naturally encourages. • Sharing: Connect with a trusted friend, loved one, or counselor. Let them know you’d like to talk through recent experiences to process your emotions and mindfully create space for yourself. Mention that all you require is a compassionate person who knows you well to listen. As you talk through your experiences and express feelings, notice how new insights emerge. Sharing can be an emotional release and energetic relief. • Journaling: Create some empath-friendly ambiance—gentle sounds (like nature sounds), soft lighting, a clean and calm place—to write. Journal about the bigger events and emotions you’ve been experiencing. Resist the urge to write about what other people are doing, thinking, or feeling. Get at the messages underneath your emotions, messages like “I’ve been working too hard lately” or “I like this person more than I realized,” by simply feeling your emotions. You might laugh or cry. An empath’s life is always enhanced when they’re feeling deeply and in a balanced way. • Connecting: Your ability to feel the emotions of others can be a path leading back to yourself. Identify a person, either someone you know or someone in the news, going through a similar situation to your own, such as someone else also rebuilding after a financial loss, or someone else also balancing children and a career. This could even be a fictional character from a novel. As you observe this individual in circumstances similar to your own or experiencing emotions similar to yours, tap in to yourself even further. Emotions want to be felt—and share information. Try not to label them as right or wrong. When processed, emotions can inspire you to make healthy changes in your life. Taking time to connect with yourself is key for emotional health. Identify Unnecessary Drama Not all drama is the same. Unnecessary drama is draining and offers little reward. Necessary drama might be draining, but the rewards can be huge—like a practical change to your circumstances or simply being true to yourself. Determining which type of drama you’re facing can help you understand how to best approach it with your own self-care in mind. Choose a frustrating situation in your life that is causing drama. Then ask yourself: • Will this battle cost me more in the long run if I don’t have it now? • Am I backing down or backing away from drama simply because I don’t want to feel the uncomfortable emotions it might create in me or someone else? • Does this issue directly affect my well-being or the well-being of someone I love? • Is this drama distracting me from issues that are more pressing or important? • Will walking away or ignoring things create even more drama for me? • Is this drama attractive or exciting to me because I’m either bored or avoiding something else I’m afraid to face? • Is the person in the middle of this drama someone I know to be a drama king or queen, or someone who has a high tolerance for dramatic situations? • Am I trying to protect or manage someone else’s emotions by being involved, especially if this situation doesn’t have much to do with me personally? • Do I have options about how to handle this situation? If so, is it time to try a new tactic that might be effective yet involve less drama for me? • Would there be a better time for me to engage in this drama that is both safe and beneficial to me? Energy is a resource, and energy-sensitive empaths realize that better than anyone! After an empath’s emotional, psychic, or physical energy is expended, it needs time to replenish itself—just like any other natural resource. Practice healthy conservation of your resources by managing the drama in your life. Cocoon to Nurture Your Sensitive System As an empath, you need to take periodic breaks from absorbing all the energies and emotions of others that you can pick up on so easily. One way to do that is by cocooning—the process of retreating and recovering in comfortable and low-stimulation environments. Cocooning gives your sensitive system a chance to catch up with itself and ground. Cocooning can be especially useful after big events (weddings, work conferences) or emotionally triggering interactions (confrontations) where a lot of energy and emotion is flying around. You can also try preparatory cocooning before potentially emotionally stressful events, like the first week back to school. Here’s how to practice cocooning. 1. Identify how much time you’ll cocoon. (You can always adjust once you start, but make a plan ahead of time. For example, you might plan to cocoon for an hour and then after an hour decide to cocoon for an entire morning—or vice versa.) 2. Identify the place you’ll cocoon—your apartment, a retreat center, your friend’s beach house, a quiet coffee shop, or anywhere else appropriate. 3. Identify whom and/or what you’ll avoid, such as avoiding checking work email or avoiding worrying about world events. (You can cocoon while still working, by the way—if needed, you could cocoon while working from home to escape the office.) 4. Identify what you’ll emphasize: quiet time, creative projects, no-drama zones, or anything else gentle and nurturing. 5. Check in with yourself during the process. Do you feel isolated and need to wrap this session up sooner than you planned? Or do you need to extend this session, or schedule another one in the future? Remember to connect with yourself for the answers! 6. After you finish, notice any differences in your system. Whether you cocoon for an hour, an evening, a Saturday, or even longer, the low levels of stimulation will help heal your frazzled, drained, or overwhelmed system so you feel ready and eager to engage more actively with the larger world again. Create Healthy Energetic Distance from a Certain Person or Situation While in the previous exercise you were practicing cocooning in general, you can also go about your normal routine/day and just cocoon from one isolated issue by creating healthy energetic distance. Pulling back from one person or situation for a bit—like taking a small break from trying to solve a stressful financial situation that is safe to step back from temporarily—allows you retreat-and-recover space in a specific area of your life. It’s a temporary measure while you process your emotions so you can come back into balance regarding a single issue. From that place of balance, you’ll have more perspective and clarity on the situation. 1. Identify the person(s) or situation you want to create healthy energetic distance from. It might be a close, well-meaning friend who is unexpectedly being pursued by your crush (and realizing she has genuine although inconvenient feelings for your crush). Remember: You don’t have to tell people you’re creating healthy energetic distance from them, especially if telling them will cause unnecessary drama or hurt feelings. 2. Decide how you’ll create healthy distance. In the previous example, you might keep your interactions with your close friend brief for a few days or avoid your crush’s social media posts. 3. Use this healthy energetic distance time mindfully to process your emotions and think through next steps. Or use this space to move away from the situation entirely for a fresh perspective, like taking a week off from brainstorming and researching where to move. Taking a safe, healthy break from a stressful, emotional issue allows your intuition space to offer guidance. Build In Transition Time Transition time allows you to tune out of the last task or group of people that occupied your energy and tune back in to yourself before moving to the next task or group of people! Empaths often need mindful time to transition among roles, like parent, friend, coworker, caregiver, artist, spouse, or any other metaphorical hat they wear during the day. Empaths are so sensitive that they may embody roles easily and completely. Use the following suggestions as inspiration to build more transition time into your daily schedule, even if it’s just 5 minutes. • Arrive 15 minutes early to an appointment or event so you can spend a few quiet moments with yourself. • Take mindful breaks between tasks or clients at work. • Walk around the neighborhood or sit on the porch for 20 minutes when you finish work. • Meditate for 10 minutes after saying hello to pets, partners, roommates, or children when you walk in the door from work. • Wake up slowly by spending 5 minutes stretching, or snuggling with a pet or partner, before getting out of bed. • Sit down for 5 minutes and check in with your body and emotions after putting children down for a nap. • Develop a calming evening self-care ritual before bed, like enjoying a cup of chamomile tea. Stay present and practice quieting your mind as you prepare the tea. These types of mindful transitions allow you a moment to ground back in to your energy, instead of being thrown off-center by nonstop interactions or becoming lost in a role. Tune In to Your Energy During Decision-Making Empaths might struggle to get clear on what they want if they are picking up on the expectations and desires of others. For better self-care when making a decision, try the following exercise to help you tune in to yourself regarding saying yes, no, or even maybe to something. 1. Analyze the obvious pros and cons. (Example: You’re an entrepreneur offered a new project. The main pro—the client is a prestigious company, so the project will raise your profile in the marketplace. The main con—turnaround time is incredibly tight, which could be stressful.) 2. Check in with your body. An empath’s physical body is sensitive and will often provide intuitive information. (Example: Imagine saying yes. Does your body give you green-light sensations, like feeling light or energized, or do you instead feel heaviness and exhaustion? Imagine saying no. Do you feel the relief of your shoulders relaxing, or does your tummy feel anxious at a missed opportunity?) 3. Discern what your intuition tells you about the deeper why behind this decision. Pay attention to any feelings, pictures, words, or thoughts you experience. (Example: You might get an image of yourself climbing a mountain, tired but smiling, and at the top, people you’ve touched with this project thank you. You have the thought “I was born for this.” Or you might have images of mountains of paperwork piling up. Suddenly, you feel panicked. A gentle voice in your mind whispers, “Not now.”) Getting in the habit of consulting your mind, intuition, and body allows decision-making to become a more authentic, empowering process for empaths like you. Try a Laughing Meditation Some empaths may occasionally struggle with traditional meditation—sitting still in a quiet place for longer periods of time trying to quiet the mind and reduce thoughts. That’s because empaths have more to process at the end of the day, having picked up on more by being hyper-perceptive energy-sensitives. Laughter is healing. According to research, laughter has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and decreases stress hormones. For empaths, laughter can also jolt their systems into ceasing the attempt to process everything they have been sensing all day. Laughter has an amazing ability to ground you in the present moment! Try the following meditation when you’ve had a busy day with a lot of other people’s energies and emotions coming at you and you’re having trouble letting it all go. 1. Watch or listen to something you know will make you laugh. Look for a light sitcom, funny movie, or stand-up special by your favorite comedian. 2. Immerse yourself in this television show, movie, or stand-up routine for 20 minutes. 3. Embrace any physical sensations that arrive, like shaking from the giggles, laughing out loud, or wiping tears from your eyes. 4. When you’re done, notice if your mind is now quieter because you experienced fewer thoughts during this laughing meditation. You probably also feel more relaxed. Part of why comedy is so popular is because it gives us a lighthearted break from our busy minds—use it intentionally to take care of yourself! Clean Up Your Diet You already know that a healthy diet can do wonders for your physical body, but it can also improve your sensitive system and your psychic ability. (Every empath is unique and may have special dietary requirements, so consider working with a nutritionist or health coach to help create your ideal diet.) Eating healthfully and regularly helps stabilize blood sugar and energy levels, which can give you more physical stamina for being out in the world as an empath. Psychically, you may find your sensitivity improved on a simple, clean diet. You could experience more regular, clear intuitive hits, or a dormant psychic pathway may open up. The following suggestions can help you incorporate empath-friendly dietary practices into your routine slowly so your body can adjust and you can determine which ones work best for you. • Drink clean, filtered water. • Eat small meals regularly throughout the day. • Get enough protein. • Eat organic foods if possible. • Watch your sugar intake. • Emphasize low-glycemic carbs, like brown rice, and low-glycemic fruit, like berries. • Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake. • Take your time and chew your food. • Eat your veggies! • Listen to your body and how it feels and responds to different foods. Avoid foods and drinks that don’t agree with you, or try an elimination diet to determine if you feel better avoiding certain foods. Another note: Eat to feel healthy, not to look a certain way. Empaths can fall into people-pleasing, so remember that if someone is critical of your natural body type or shape, that’s their problem! If you struggle with body image issues or an eating disorder, you are not alone. Empaths might, subconsciously, feel that extra weight gives them a shield or buffer against the harsher energies and emotions in the world, or they might pick up on what culture or their family considers the ideal body type and try to match that in an effort to people-please. Body image issues and eating disorders are complex, real concerns, yet there are many tools and resources to help. Decades ago, I struggled with bulimia in high school—however, these issues can present or continue at any age. Whatever your relationship to food and body image, I’m sending you my love and support. Sometimes the most basic self-care techniques, like eating a clean and healthy diet, can have the most profound effects. Subtle shifts and changes are often felt in a big way by sensitive empaths. Go from Frazzled Empath to Grounded Empath Being frazzled is the opposite of being centered. When frazzled, you may feel your energy is pulled in many different directions. This is a common issue for empaths because they can sense and then be drawn in to so many different types of energy. Anytime you’re feeling frazzled, refer to the following list of issues that can typically create a frazzled or hectic, scattered, and emotionally reactive state in empaths. Get clarity on the reasons why you’re frazzled, then consider the following solutions as ways to ground yourself. If none of these issues seem like the culprit, sit down with your journal and do a loving self-inventory. Before you read through each Frazzled Empath Trigger, ask your intuition to give you a number between one and thirteen in words, pictures, thoughts, or feelings. This might represent your top trigger now. Frazzled Empath Trigger Grounded Empath Solution 1 Not having enough free or unscheduled time. Take some things off your plate and open up your schedule. 2 Existing in a chaotic living or work space. Keep spaces clean, tidy, and uncluttered. 3 Overworking. Set sensible office hours with clear, defined boundaries so you can come home to yourself daily. 4 Bottling up your emotions. Find methods to express and process your own emotions with yourself and others. 5 Experiencing extreme financial pressure. Keep unnecessary debt low to avoid its energy drain of worry and fight-or-flight-or-freeze financial fears. 6 Ignoring physical health. Prioritize physical health with healthy food, medicine and supplements as needed, rest, gentle exercise, and staying on top of chronic health concerns. 7 Ignoring mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. Reach out to loved ones and professionals to get help when you need it. 8 Overindulging in stimulants and depressants, like caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. Find your own personal limits and honor them, knowing that empaths can be more sensitive to the effects of these substances. 9 Supporting a loved one—a small child, elderly parent, or struggling friend—without any breaks. Take time to retreat and recover and ground back in to your own system regularly. 10 Chronically downplaying, hiding, or masking your own emotional experience to protect someone else’s emotions. Get honest with yourself and others about your own emotional experience in ways that feel safe and healthy. 11 Not admitting when your emotional system is overwhelmed and your nervous system is overstimulated. Course-correct when you need to nurture yourself and regain balance. 12 Being exposed to lots of chemicals and additives in your air, food, water, makeup, or cleaning products. Take the filtered, organic, or natural route when possible. 13 Having expectations of perfection from yourself or imposed on you by others. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself and surround yourself with people who have realistic expectations. Think of these solutions as loving self-care methods that can gently steer you away from feeling frazzled and toward feeling grounded. Adopt Routines to Calm Your Sensitive System Routine is calming to the human nervous system, which partly is why small children can become cranky when their routines—like naptimes or mealtimes—are disrupted. Because empaths’ hyper-perceptive nervous and energetic systems are easily overstimulated, routines are especially calming and stabilizing. For this exercise, adopt daily morning, afternoon, and evening routines that make you feel grounded. Develop at least one routine—like the activities you do when you wake or right before bed—that you follow faithfully for a week. Switch up the details of some of your established routines to prevent boredom. Experiment and use these suggestions for inspiration! MORNING ROUTINE SUGGESTIONS: • If you struggle to find time for breakfast in the morning, make/have easy-to-prepare and healthy go-to breakfasts, like a smoothie or grain/nut bar. • Take any necessary supplements or medication. • Do something meditative alone to ground in to your own energy: walk; hit the gym; meditate; journal; draw an oracle card; or savor your morning coffee, tea, or kombucha on the porch. • Allow yourself time to get ready so you don’t feel rushed getting out the door. • Choose an affirmation for the day to set the energetic tone, like “Life is supporting me in unexpected ways today” or “I’ll show myself unconditional love today.” Find daily affirmations in my calendar, A Year of Self-Love. • Listen to upbeat, fun music if you’re excited about the day or soothing music if you’re stressed. • Make your bed. • Quickly straighten up the house so you’ll be in, or return home to, a calmer environment. AFTERNOON ROUTINE SUGGESTIONS: • Avoid overscheduling and allow for transition time between activities. • Eat something healthy that will boost your energy in the afternoon slump. • Drink water or a noncaffeinated beverage without sugar. • Get outside if you’ve been inside all day. • Do something fun to uplift your energy and de-stress, like watching a silly video online, checking a social media feed that’s generally positive or connecting, taking a pet or child for a walk, or chatting with a favorite coworker about something outside of work. • Take a real lunch break for at least 20 to 30 minutes and don’t check work email, pick up after children, or answer your work phone. • Complete any tasks that must be done by the end of the day with time to spare so you don’t feel rushed wrapping up. EVENING ROUTINE SUGGESTIONS: • Change into comfy clothes if you’ve been dressed up for work. • Do something physical yet gentle to signal to your body that you’re transitioning out of the daytime active mode and into evening relaxation mode, like leisurely strolling through the neighborhood with your spouse or roommate, playing your favorite music while prepping dinner, or getting down on the floor and playing with your child or pet. • Get quiet time alone for 45 minutes. If you have kids or are a caregiver, this time might come at the end of the night when everyone else is in bed or relaxing in their own rooms. • Work on a creative project that’s just for fun for an hour. If you’re a dancer, you might practice new moves. If you’re an artist or crafter, you might spend an hour using your hands to make something beautiful. • Avoid consuming too much alcohol or sugar. Be present with yourself as you prepare the evening meal (for example, notice the sounds and smells you experience as you cut veggies or strain noodles). • Say a blessing over the meal, either silently or out loud, that involves gratitude. • Make sure chores like washing dishes, taking out the trash, putting away laundry, and straightening are done so you wake up to a calm house tomorrow. • Snuggle up—with pillows, your pet, your child, or your partner—to feel cozy. • Try going to bed at roughly the same time every night. • For an hour before bed, engage in low-stimulation activities like reading, journaling, stretching, or tidying the house. Avoid paying bills, watching the news, confrontations with family and roommates, or anything else that might put your system on alert. Work with an Empath Talisman Many faiths and cultures believe in the energy of sacred objects, and you probably already possess objects you consider sacred. Empaths can use these objects to help re-ground themselves when they are emotionally triggered, or experiencing an intense emotional reaction to something—a comment someone makes, an event that happens, or anything else. An old wound (like childhood abandonment) might get triggered, or maybe an ethical issue you believe in passionately is triggered. Because emotions and energies can register strongly in an empath’s system, when they’re emotionally triggered, it might be challenging to stay centered in the present moment. You could come home after an emotionally triggering day and hold your empath talisman while unpacking your day with a friend on the phone, or you might keep your empath talisman in your pocket during an emotionally triggering situation, like confronting a coworker. In the following exercise, you’ll identify an empath talisman and infuse it with grounding energy. 1. Seek out your talisman, knowing that it may find you—this is how power objects are often discovered in shamanic traditions. You might be walking the beach and have one particular shell catch your eye, or you could walk into a store and feel one particular crystal calling to you. You can use an object already in your possession that you consider sacred, like a heart-shaped stone a child gave you or mala beads you bought while on a spiritual retreat. 2. Clear the energy of the object first, if you like, by giving it a gentle physical clean, leaving it out in the sunlight (provided that won’t damage the object) or moonlight, or covering it in flower petals. Charge/infuse the object with grounding energy by holding it between your hands, taking some deep breaths, and picturing in your mind a place (perhaps associated with an elder or ancient energy) where you often feel/felt grounded (your grandma’s kitchen, an ancestral or sacred site you’ve visited). If there’s an older tree you love, sit with the object under that tree, asking the tree and its roots to charge your talisman with grounding energy. 3. Practice working with and get to know your empath talisman. You might hold it while you meditate in the morning or wear it (if it’s a piece of jewelry) while you attend a self-care workshop. Connect with its supportive energy and notice any changes in your own energy when you work with it. Name the changes, like feeling more calm, empowered, or open. Having something tactile that represents a feeling of being centered can help when you are emotionally triggered. An empath talisman can be a powerful self-care tool, yet not a substitute for other methods of getting emotional support. Work your talisman into the other healthy practices that keep you grounded. Pick a Spirit Animal to Journey With Spirit animals act as the embodiment of certain attractive traits a specific animal symbolizes that you might like to emulate. Spirit animals are empowering and fun to engage with. This exercise contains a list of spirit animals that can be especially valuable to empaths. 1. Read through the following descriptions and feel in to which animal would support you most now. Also, watch for synchronicities showing up in your life, such as seeing a certain animal in your yard, on social media, on a friend’s T-shirt or mug, or in the news. You may even dream of an animal. The following suggests how spirit animals might help empaths. • Cat: Prioritizing healthy alone time. • Eagle: Rising above the emotions and energies around you for a more objective perspective. • Duck: Remaining adaptable to different types of energies, environments, and situations. • Flamingo: Feeling safe to be fabulous even if it upsets or threatens another. • Groundhog: Handling earthy needs and details. • Horse: Releasing another energetically so both of you can be free. • Kangaroo: Practicing exceptional self-care and self-nurturing. • Owl: Not letting others talk you out of your own wisdom. • Rabbit: Taking care of your sensitive nervous and energetic systems. • Seal: Cultivating a community of other empaths. • Stag: Standing silently yet strongly in your own power and energy. • Turtle: Coming home to your own energy, retreating and recovering. • Unicorn: Celebrating what is unique about you, like being an empath! 2. Incorporate this spirit animal into your life by putting a figurine of this animal on your home altar, setting a screensaver image of this animal on your computer or phone, watching a documentary about this animal, contributing to a charity devoted to this animal, or meditating on an image of this animal. Allow this animal to move your spirit, encouraging you to make positive changes in your self-care. Bathe to Connect to Your Higher Self and Intuition Some empaths feel very at home in water! Immersing in a comfortable bathtub can be an ideal way to re-ground yourself and connect with both your physical and energy bodies. This ritual can also be a method of banking/conserving and increasing your energy! Taking a bath is relaxing, and a relaxed state can facilitate getting in touch with your higher self. Your higher self is the part of you that is wise, reflective, and objective. It’s the part of you that can feel your emotions but also create healthy distance from them. Your higher self is excellent at seeing the big picture and putting things into perspective. Like an eagle, it can fly high above the details of your daily life and look at things from a broader angle. You might consider the higher self the soul’s perspective or wisdom. Before you begin, schedule some time in a bathroom where you can close the door and be alone for 30 minutes. Then draw yourself a bath with water at a comfortable temperature, letting your mind quiet and enter a meditative state as you watch the tub fill up. Slip carefully inside and follow these steps. 1. Try to be fully present in the moment by engaging your senses. Use bath salts to make the water softer; sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil to create a sweet smell; if there’s a safe spot to set a candle, light one with a glow you can gaze at; and/or put on some soothing nature sounds, music by an artist you love, or an inspirational podcast. 2. Connect with yourself. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes for a few moments to center yourself, place your hand on your heart chakra, and gently splash some water over your arms and shoulders. Get a sense of your own amazing, powerful, strong energy! 3. Just be here with yourself, with minimal distractions, for 15, 20, 30 minutes, or longer. Let your mind go blank or quiet. If you have a favorite soap or gentle scrub, lovingly go over your skin and lather up. 4. Use this quiet, meditative time during which you can ground in to your own energy to naturally help you connect to your higher self. You might feel the energy change around you as you connect more to that part of yourself, which you could picture as an eagle or any mental image of wisdom. Expect some intuitive insights as well as some emotions to come up—perhaps about a current situation in your life or even something from the past. Notice what shows up now and trust that it’s information coming from your higher self. 5. Repeat some affirming thoughts as you carefully get out of the tub and towel yourself off, like “I love this body” or “I’m learning to love this body.” When you’re finished, be sure to fully extinguish any candles or incense you used in the ritual. If you don’t have access to a bathtub, try a variation of this ritual in the shower. Find Healthy Ways to Retreat When you retreat, or pull back from overstimulating situations and the energies and emotions of others to ground back in to yourself, your sensitive nervous and energetic systems can recover. During healthy retreat and recovery, an empath can rest and rebalance, then emerge refreshed, centered, and excited to engage more actively with the world again. Rate the following healthy retreat techniques that you’ve already tried as excellent, okay, or not for me, based on their ability to help your sensitive system recover. Then try at least one new technique. ____________ Meditate at work. If you have a door on your office, shut it to meditate. If you work in an open-office setting, take a walk on your lunch break or sit in a coffee shop after the lunch rush with your earbuds in to quiet your mind. If you work from home, try meditating on a park bench or your back porch. ____________ Curl up with a good book. Watching a film or listening to a podcast is also relaxing, but it’s more stimulating. This is why reading is a great activity right before bed. ____________ Spend time in a quiet spot in nature or gardening in the backyard. Your child’s Little League game may be held in a beautiful park, but it’s hardly a low-stimulation environment! Look for relaxing spots instead. ____________ Get lost in a fun creative project. Have you been knitting so long that your hands just know what to do automatically? Maybe you can whip up a gourmet meal without having to think hard about it. ____________ Exercise solo or with others in a chill setting. Pull out your yoga mat at home or take a gentle, small-sized class. Gyms can be overstimulating for some, but you might have a favorite stationary bike that you hit, and then put your headphones on and zone out as you ride. Exercising, when you are able, can clear your mind and move stuck, stagnant energy out of your field. ____________ Journal about what you’re grateful for. Light a candle, say a prayer or blessing, and write a journal entry. On a day that’s been challenging, recall anything positive that happened. Gratitude is a relaxing practice. ____________ Take time for yourself while your child is napping. Many parents use that precious time to catch up on cleaning the house, paying bills, or answering work emails. When possible, use this as retreat time. Just being in a quiet house invites the nervous system to settle down. ____________ Attend a contemplative spiritual service. I once had a client who was not an Episcopalian yet would attend a weekly evening prayer service at an Episcopal chapel near her home because the church looked lovely lit up with candles and the choir sang soothing music. Many spiritual traditions offer similar services that are often open to the public. ____________ Do a group project where everyone is quietly working. This might be a crafting hour with your kids on the weekends or a writing group that meets to work side by side yet silently at a coffee shop. You don’t necessarily have to be alone to enjoy retreat-and-recover time. The ideas listed in this exercise, or others like them, will help your sensitive system get the space and quiet time it needs to retreat and recover in an intentional way. QUIZ: Are You Retreating in a Healthy Way or Isolating and Numbing Out? Every empath has their own preferences for how much retreat time they like, based on their individual personalities and current life circumstances. If you’re going through an unusually stressful period, for example, it might be beneficial to have a bit more retreat time. But be careful not to go so far as to isolate yourself. For an empath—who is wired to interact so intimately with others—feeling isolated from the outside world is just as draining as being overstimulated by it. Numbing out due to chronic overstimulation can look like mindless binge-watching, compulsive shopping, or heavy drinking, to offer a few examples. These behaviors could be an empath’s way of attempting to block out what they’re absorbing from others or feeling in themselves. To see if your retreat is healthy or isolating/numbing, answer the following quiz questions with a simple yes, no, or sometimes. Keep in mind that there are no wrong answers to this quiz and no pass or fail grading. It’s simply a way to get clear on your current retreat-and-recover methods. ____________ Is my retreat-and-recover time defined, so I know when I’m engaging in it, how long it lasts, and how often I need it? ____________ Is my retreat-and-recover time filled with activities that are enjoyable, nurturing, and don’t produce feelings of guilt? ____________ Do I feel refreshed and motivated to re-engage with the world again after healthy retreat-and-recover time? ____________ Am I periodically switching up the activities involved in my retreat-and-recover time so I don’t get bored? ____________ Can I find ways to retreat and recover when I’m still around people, like coloring quietly beside my partner while they’re on the computer, or snuggling with a pet while I watch a movie? ____________ Am I comfortable being alone with myself and do I enjoy my own company? (Practice radical self-love and acceptance when gently contemplating this question.) ____________ Do I have people I can talk to when I’m upset, so retreating isn’t my only coping skill when I’m worked up? ____________ Was I taught as a child, or was it modeled for me, that retreat or alone time can be healthy and nourishing? ____________ Do I generally feel better after retreat time? ____________ Do I retreat because it’s healthy and not because I experience uncomfortable social anxiety when I’m around others? The more yes answers you had, the more your current retreat-and-recover strategy is working for you. If you had a lot of no answers, talk to a healthcare professional, counselor, or trusted friend about ways you can make healthy changes. Loved ones (especially those who also seem sensitive, like other empaths) who are good at staying centered and calm might be able to share how they retreat and recover. Their methods could give you some inspiration! Identify Gentle and Enlivening Activities to Adjust Your Energy One of the bonuses of being sensitive to energy is that empaths may be able to more easily adjust their own energy simply by seeking out activities, people, or places with an energy they want to experience. Gentle activities are ideal for when you’re anxious, drained, or very emotional. When you want to calm your energy, try: • Strolling or taking a slow-moving yoga class. • Hanging with a friend who has a very laid-back energy. • Visiting a quiet museum, bookstore, or spiritual retreat center. • Sitting at a café off the beaten path during its slow time of day. • Doing your grocery shopping when you’re not rushed and the store isn’t crowded. • Getting a relaxing massage or nontoxic/organic pedicure. • Sitting and holding hands with someone on a park bench or watching the sunset. • Daydreaming. Enlivening activities are great for when you’re bored or wanting to feel more connected, alive, or energized. (While empaths may be more easily overstimulated than others, they still enjoy feeling excited and engaged with life and sometimes crave higher-stimulation activities.) Those include: • Falling in love with a person, a project, yourself, or life itself. • Hanging with a friend who has bubbly, outgoing energy. • Attending a concert, sporting event, peaceful protest, or celebration in a crowd of engaged people. • Having an intense workout. • Learning or trying something new. • Attending a class in a group setting (remotely or in person). • Dancing around in a silly or joyous way. • Being around someone who is inspired and motivated. • Setting goals that make you stretch toward your dreams or overcome obstacles. • Performing or speaking in front of others. • Making big changes that feel right, like moving or switching jobs (or even planning such a change). Staying in touch with your own energy helps you discern which type of activity is best for you at any given time. Take Your System Off Red Alert Because empaths are naturally built to feel so much, they can feel things very intensely. When you’re feeling good stuff, like being deeply connected to others or nature, you’re enjoying one of the best parts of being an empath. When you’re feeling painful things, like the collective anxiety of others, however, you’re experiencing one of the most challenging parts of being an empath. If you’re dealing with temporary, circumstantial stress, and you’re feeling it in an intense way, try some of the following techniques to take your system off red alert. • Cushion with buffer. Your system is telling you it’s overloaded, so create more buffer around yourself. Buffer could look like scheduling a massage, attending a yoga class twice instead of once a week, or some other way of mindfully increasing your self-care to create buffer. When you feel on red alert or very anxious, it’s as if you are a car and the shocks or brake pads are worn too thin. Buffer is protective cushioning inserted into your schedule to help calm you and to soften or take the edge off daily life. • Let go of some responsibilities temporarily or create open space in your immediate-future schedule. You may be doing too much now, and managing everything is creating the overwhelm. Empaths need retreat-and-recover time to re-ground, and if you’re so busy you’re not getting that downtime, it could quickly lead to feeling on red alert. Create space and let your system catch up. • Make some bigger changes in your life. Are you people-pleasing and not prioritizing yourself? Are you taking on too much because you, not others, are expecting too much of yourself? Even if what’s causing you to be on red alert is a temporary issue, it could be helping you see some deeper truths or patterns that are reaching a crisis point. Empaths are extrasensory but not superhuman! • Slow down. As a society, we’re frequently impatient and on red alert. Are you ever moving quickly when you don’t have to be, or rushing through errands or conversations or projects simply because you’ve gotten used to moving very fast? Walk slower, talk slower—eat slower! This technique helps quiet your mind too. These techniques work for sporadic stress. Feeling overwhelmed almost all the time, however, might lead to a chronic fight-flight-or-freeze response. When you enter this territory, the adrenals and other systems in your body go on red alert, and in a primal way that makes you feel unsafe. Animals in the forest may feel this way if they smell a fire, for example. If you’re feeling anxiety and panic on a regular basis, talk to a healthcare professional. A counselor can give you coping skills or determine if this is related to a past trauma; a doctor, nurse practitioner, or naturopath can help determine if there is a physical cause; and a psychiatrist can help determine if there is a brain chemistry issue. Get any support you need so you can savor life more again! Bless Your Meals Small, easy rituals throughout the day help empaths mindfully ground back in to their own energy, keeping them centered and calmer. The beginning of a meal—whether it’s dinner or just a quick snack at your desk—is the perfect excuse to stop and perform a simple ritual. The following is a sample for a blessing you can perform over any meal, whether you’re at home or in a restaurant, eating alone or sitting with a group of people. Use these steps as a guideline, but feel free to adapt them to your preferences. 1. Express (silently or aloud) gratitude for this food and the life force it’s transferring to you. If you consume animal products, you could thank the animals for what they have contributed. If you are on a plant-based diet, remember to thank them for their nutrients. Don’t forget to thank humans, like farmers or the people who work at your grocery store. You can even thank the person who earned the money to buy this food—maybe that was you! 2. Set the intention to use this food as fuel to love yourself, to be of service to others, to spread compassion in the world, or for any other noble intention that resonates. (Again, this can be communicated aloud or silently.) 3. Begin your meal, and let the sacredness of this quick and easy ritual make you more mindful of the blessing of having healthy food. Feeling blessed is the best! Tune In to Why You’re Feeling Ungrounded A healthy self-care practice is the best way to feel grounded—or safe, confident, calm, and centered in your own energy. If you’re feeling ungrounded—consistently feeling scattered, unsafe, insecure, or anxious—lean in to any self-care techniques that are especially supportive for you or for empaths in general. For this exercise, you’ll be using your clairsentient psychic pathway to feel in to the possible reasons why you may not be grounded. Ask yourself the following questions, and don’t go to your logical mind to deduce or strategize the answer. Wait for your feelings to tell you which questions hold important clues for you now. When a question resonates as possibly true for you, the energy around you might feel heavier or thicker; you might experience physical sensations, like chills; or you might experience any other mild physical or energetic change, like a wave of energy or emotion washing over you. When you read a question from the following list and it doesn’t resonate as an issue for you, you won’t experience a physical or energetic change, and instead you will feel neutral about or uninterested in this particular issue. Are you feeling ungrounded because: • The future feels particularly uncertain (where you’ll go to school, where you’ll live, where you’ll work) and you’re having trouble being at peace with this uncertain future? • You don’t feel settled in a home, job, or relationship that is new or in a transition period? • You’re having real concerns about survival issues, like food, shelter, physical safety, or other survival needs being met? • You have not had enough time or space to connect with yourself and come home to your own energy? • There’s too much pressure being put on you right now, either by yourself, a boss, a friend, or a partner, and instead of just being an extrasensory empath you’re trying to be superhuman? • You haven’t spent time in nature recently? • You haven’t been sticking to a healthy diet or you haven’t been taking supplements and medication that you know work for you? • You are trying to go it alone and need to ask for support? • You’ve been numbing out a lot and aren’t being present enough in the moment? • There’s something coming up that needs to be looked at and healed, either from the recent or distant past, and you need to get support and tools to face it? • You’re staying busy to avoid your emotions, an issue, or a person? • You’re being rigid and inflexible, even about smaller issues? Is this because you feel out of control in some area of your life and are trying to exert control in another area? • You haven’t been sticking to a healthy routine? You don’t have to possess magical solutions for any of these issues. Simply getting in touch with what is making you feel ungrounded will help you tune in to your own emotions and energies, and that in itself always helps an empath feel more grounded. If anything you discover in this exercise upsets you or makes you want to change, get support from loved ones and experts. Seeking help can be an act of courage, wisdom, and self-love. Try Beauty Therapy Whether you’re experiencing joyous times or very tough times, beauty is a sustaining, nourishing force for the human spirit. Beauty can instantly create warm, positive emotions, like joy, peace, and even awe. Because empaths are sensitive to emotions, beauty therapy helps them quickly tune in to feel-good vibes. For one week, commit to bringing more beauty into your life or noticing the beauty already there. • Day One: Find beauty in unexpected places, like a gnarled tree trunk or the tears of someone grieving a loved one. • Day Two: Concentrate on feeling more beautiful, like wearing your favorite outfit or having an attitude that radiates beauty. • Day Three: Bring more beauty to your workspace, like clearing clutter from your desk or placing a small plant or crystal on it. • Day Four: Notice the beauty in other people, like the kind smile of a stranger or the warm, nurturing energy of a close friend. • Day Five: Bring more beauty to your home, like buying a lovely vase at a secondhand store or purchasing one on sale at a chic store, or listening to beautiful music and letting it fill your space. • Day Six: Breathe in the beauty of nature, like visiting a local park for fresh air or burning sweet-smelling natural incense. • Day Seven: Make a meal beautiful, like creating a restaurant-level presentation of your dinner or using different vegetable shapes and colors in a salad. Beauty therapy does not have to cost a lot of, or even any, money. Sensitive empaths pick up easily on subtleties in their environment, so a little beauty therapy goes a long way. CHAPTER 3 Mindfully Tune In and Out of Other People An empath’s default wiring is to tune in to what’s around them—the energies and emotions of other individuals, groups, and spaces. Yet it’s important to remember that you are not at the mercy of this sensitivity—at least not all the time! You can learn to mindfully tune in and out of others, and while this is not a perfect science, it’s an ability you can practice and hone using the techniques in this chapter. Many empaths have a fear of being drained by other people’s energies and emotions. Sometimes this fear can protect you, and other times it can hold you back. While you should not feel victimized by being an empath, protecting yourself is a legitimate concern. So is feeling free to pursue things you’d like to experience. To understand this concept, visualize a knob on a panel that’s labeled empath sensitivity. This chapter will help you get better at turning your sensitivity up or down. The key to managing your intake of others’ energies and emotions is to turn the knob toward observer mode when helpful. Other times, the dial will point more toward opening up to feel so you can actively engage and enjoy your sensitivity. While you’ll have more control in some situations than in others, you can usually do something to mindfully manage your sensitivity. At times you’ll want to let the moment organically dictate your response and not think about your dial at all. The techniques in this chapter provide tools to manage your empath sensitivity in an empowered way. Tune In for Intuitive Insight Focusing on another person can enable you to tune in to them in a powerful way. Before an intuitive session, I focus on my client—what I know about them if we’ve had a session before, and the questions they sent me to meditate on. Within seconds of turning my thoughts and full attention on them, I start getting insightful intuitive hits about my client via the four main psychic pathways (hearing, seeing, knowing, and feeling). The following exercise will help you practice focusing—on people, situations, or anything else—so you can gain more intuitive insight. Learning what it feels like to tune in and tune out (which we’ll cover soon) are vital self-care lessons for empaths so they can decide which is the most useful and healthy option for them in the moment. 1. Decide what you want to practice focusing on. It might be your pet as you play together, or your coworker over lunch as she asks for your advice. It could be someone or something far away, like a lover who’s asleep on the other side of the world or a vacation spot your family is considering. You might also focus on a situation, like how you want to grow or adapt your business next year. 2. Stay calm. Remind yourself that this is not the type of focus used when cramming for an exam. Your energy should feel soft and open, not intense and concentrated. Gently let everything except what you are focusing on fade away. 3. Get comfortable. Take care of any physical concerns so you’re not distracted. Go to the bathroom, grab a snack, or get settled in your chair. 4. Encourage your focus. If you’re researching vacation spots, pull up images online. If you’re focusing on a friend across the table, make eye contact and notice the details of their outfit. If a stray thought about something else enters (such as “What’s for dinner?” or “Did I send that email?”), let it float on by. If it’s important, it will resurface after the exercise. 5. Notice what intuitive hits you’re getting. Observe the words you hear in your mind, thoughts you have, images you see in your mind, and feelings you experience that are related to what you’re focusing on. 6. Transition your focus. To end the exercise, mindfully take your focus and your thoughts somewhere else. Give your system a break, and if any essential intuitive insights still want to pop in, they will. Use Focus with a Sensitive Friend This exercise provides another way to practice using focus for intuitive insight. If you have another sensitive friend with a naturally strong or open intuition, it can be a special bonding experience to try the following exercise together. It might become something you do periodically whenever one of you is looking for some out-of-the-box intuitive insight on a situation in your life. Always trust your own guidance, of course—but going to someone else for their intuitive opinion can be enlightening, especially if you’re feeling very emotional or stuck around an issue in your life. Before you begin, find a friend who is excited about trying this. If they’re not familiar with the four psychic pathways, or “clairs,” explain the concept of hearing, seeing, knowing, or feeling intuitive guidance. After you’ve set up a time to meet, either in person or over the phone, do the following. 1. Decide who will be the first subject of focus, you or your friend. 2. Decide what issue you will be focusing on. (For example, you could decide to focus on your friend first, and the issue is a challenge he’s currently having in a romantic relationship.) For this exercise, pick a situation that isn’t too emotionally loaded for your friend. Concentrate instead on something merely annoying or frustrating (like how his partner has been working too much lately). This keeps the exercise fun and your energy light and curious. 3. Encourage focus by clearing your mind of anything else and turning your thoughts and full attention to your friend and his issue for 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re meeting in person, notice his outfit and facial expressions. If you’re on the phone, concentrate on his voice. Ask your friend to share what’s going on by giving you some details of the situation. Give your friend space to process some of his emotions, frustrations, or confusion aloud. 4. Listen between the lines. As you listen to your friend, also pay attention to what insightful thoughts pop into your head about his situation or what feelings you experience about it. For example, you might have a thought that your friend’s partner is trying to prove himself at work right now yet it’s tied to fears about a job loss he experienced in the distant past, or get a feeling that an idea your friend has about how to address the issue is a good one. You might even see things, like the face of a family member of yours who went through something similar, pop into your head, or hear things, like “This is a special love,” when your friend talks about his partner. 5. Share what you are sensing about your friend’s situation with him as natural openings in the conversation occur. (If you think something you picked up might upset your friend, or you’re not sure if something is helpful advice or not, don’t share it yet. Go away from the exercise and sit on it for a few days.) Stick to advice that’s inspirational and practical and expressed in a way that is loving. Remember: You’re not trying to tell your friend what to do or fix his life—just diplomatically offering suggestions and practicing mindfully tuning in to others. 6. When you’re done, repeat the process but reverse things so you and one of your issues becomes the focus. Take Your Focus Off Someone Who Is Triggering Certain people might be particularly distracting, because what they say, do, or represent to you is so triggering. These people can appear in any facet of your life, like a coworker who dominates meetings or a well-meaning neighbor who always offers unwanted advice. You might even find someone in the public eye, like a Hollywood celebrity or politician, triggering. The following protocol for dealing with a triggering person can be illuminating for empaths, and after trying this method, you may find your energy refreshed or your relationship with this triggering person improved. 1. Admit that someone is triggering you. Instead of downplaying their effect on you, just get honest with yourself and maybe even someone else who is safe to confide in about how much this person’s energy and presence is getting under your empath skin. Remember that you’re sensitive to the energies of others, so finding yourself in this situation occasionally is natural. 2. Identify why this person triggers you. For example, an acquaintance might like to gossip, and you hate hearing them speak poorly about other people. Or someone you like and admire might have suddenly become triggering because they got married, landed their dream job, or got out of debt and it’s making you a bit jealous because you’d love something similar. 3. Determine what this trigger is telling you. When you are having trouble tuning out of someone, it might be because your sensitive energy body is trying to get your attention. What do you need to see here that this person represents? It could be that you should have better boundaries with your loved ones, for example, or that there’s a goal this person has achieved that you’d like to go after in your own way. Ponder what this person’s triggering energy is inviting you to do—often it involves some type of healing. For example, it might be that this person reminds you of something painful from the past that needs more healing. Feel the feelings, and discern the messages within them. 4. Take action. What can you do about what you discovered in the previous step? Once you set better boundaries or start going after a dream (or let it go and count your other blessings instead), or simply process emotions that want to be felt, this person’s energy should become less triggering and it will be much easier to tune them out. Sometimes simply realizing why they trigger you and admitting it to yourself is the most helpful action. 5. Turn your thoughts elsewhere. When this person isn’t around, try not thinking about them, unless the thoughts are productive and related to the third and fourth steps. Sometimes we cannot avoid being around someone—like a coworker, neighbor, or an extended family member—yet we can certainly work on not thinking about them when our time around them is over. Thinking about someone, or not, is a powerful way to tune in or out of that person’s energy. If thinking of them has become a habit, start a new habit of switching to thoughts about gratitude when this person comes to mind. A good self-care practice will sometimes ask you to explore your inconvenient or even painful emotions. Be very gentle and loving with yourself as you enter this vulnerable territory, and get any extra support you need. Know that positive change and healing can be the results. Practice Observer Mode and Witnessing Energy Empaths have a special place inside they can retreat to, even when they’re around many people. Entering observer mode and witnessing others allows you to enjoy or support the person you’re around without feeling that person’s energies or emotions intimately. Witnessing is one of the most useful techniques in an empath’s self-care kit. There will be times when someone else’s energies and emotions overtake you regardless of your best efforts. But your best efforts will help significantly, and get even better with time and practice. The more you mindfully work with observer mode, the more your own systems will automatically switch into observer mode when the situation calls for it. You’ll know you are in observer mode when you are: • Pulling back into your own energy. You might imagine that your energy body is a cape or cloak, which can be open and unfurled when you want to open up and feel. In observer mode, you will pull your energy back, like wrapping that same cape or cloak around you instead. Get a mental image of your energy cape or cloak—is it bold like a superhero’s, or is it simple and understated, or decorated with intricate, colorful embroidery? • Witnessing someone else’s energies and emotions with concern or pleasure but also with curiosity. Instead of wanting to relate to them, feel with them, or change their emotion, you are lovingly allowing them the space to feel and process their emotions, both the wonderful ones and the challenging ones. • Mimicking the energy of people you know who are adept at using witnessing energy. Doctors and counselors can be excellent at it because it allows them to use critical thinking and observation to better diagnose and help patients—instead of becoming overwhelmed by their patients’ emotions. Doctors and counselors may be tuning in to you emotionally, but they have real boundaries and conditions with that. • Experiencing a balanced emotional state or energy, even as those around you are experiencing big emotions, like joy, anxiety, grief, or eager anticipation. In observer mode, you are surfing on top of and around these emotional waves while balancing on your own sturdy, stable energy. • Imagining space between your energy body and someone else’s, or imagining your energy body shrinking back into your physical body as if your physical body is a shield. Witnessing energy is holding someone else’s energy at arm’s length, no matter how close they are to you physically, creating neutral, open energetic space between you. Sometime in the next few days, practice mindfully entering observer mode—perhaps when your partner comes home filled with intense energy and tells you about an amazing day at work, or when your child cries over a friend who’s hurt their feelings, or when you see something on the news that troubles you. You can take action to help others or simply offer comfort while in observer mode. In fact, you might find you have more stamina for supporting others when you are engaging witnessing energy. Using witnessing energy does not mean you stop caring, or become cold. Empaths can still have great compassion for others without feeling all their energies and emotions quite so intimately. Sometimes holding a calm space for someone who is very emotional is the most loving action. Open Up to Feel Sometimes as an empath, you will want to open up to feel more and mindfully encourage your amazing ability to sense the energies and emotions of others. This practice can allow you to experience bliss, like celebrating a dear friend who got a dream job, or a family member who got sober. There are even times when you might want to open up to feel the challenging, painful emotions and energies of others. Opening up to feel in to suffering on the other side of the world can inform your actions, like inspiring you to make a charitable donation, volunteer, change the way you vote, or change the way you shop. Other times, feeling the suffering of someone else might give you a clearer window into your own suffering or make you feel less alone in the struggles of human existence. Opening up to feel challenging things can also simply be a way to authentically honor who you are, an empath, as well as honor the person who is suffering by being with them energetically in an intimate way. Opening up to feel and mindfully using your empath ability feels like: • Your own energetic and emotional systems are active and tingly. You might feel the energy around you or in you change, like becoming thicker or lighter. Any change or palpable shift in the energy around you or inside yourself means you have opened up to feel more. Your emotions may change as well, like feeling sad or happy or anything else that the person you are tuning in to is feeling. • Your heart chakra and heart energy are awakened. This is what the phrase “My heart goes out to you” is describing. Your heart energy can make you feel very compassionate; tender; emotionally receptive; and moved to help, comfort, or connect with someone. • Having knowledge of what someone else is feeling because you are feeling it too through clairsentience, as opposed to having that knowledge come another way, like via the intellectual psychic pathway of claircognizance as a breakthrough thought, strong knowing, or mental download. • Experiencing physical changes related to what someone else is feeling, like tearing up if they are very sad or noticing your eyes widen and smile broaden if they are very happy. • Your emotions and energy body still buzzing or feeling more engaged, even if just briefly, after you have stopped tuning in or ended your interaction with this person. Sometime in the next week, practice mindfully opening up to feel. You can practice letting your heart go out to a loved one or coworker, or to an issue in the larger world. Notice if you feel any of the sensations noted here. Opening up to feel is a dynamic way to connect with others, but it is also a dynamic way to connect with yourself and your empath ability. In that sense, opening up to feel more is an act of self-care and self-love. Process Your Emotions Before Using Witnessing Energy Observer mode and witnessing energy are not meant to be used as an emotional bypass that helps you avoid your own feelings. In fact, if you try to use observer mode to protect yourself before you process your strong emotions, it won’t work well. This protocol does work well for situations when you know in advance that you’ll face a triggering person or situation and you want to meet them/it in observer mode to minimize drama, protect your sensitive empath system, or support someone who is going through an emotional time. You might encounter a situation when you should process your own emotions before you use observer mode if, for example, a close friend is ill and you want to be strong and supportive for them; a triggering family member will be at an upcoming event and you want to keep the peace; you’re very jealous of someone but want to celebrate their win with them in a loving way; or you know your win will be difficult for someone you love and you want to share your good news with them in a more subdued or neutral way (imagine you win an Oscar but your bestie isn’t even nominated). Here’s how. 1. Acknowledge your emotions. It can help to name these emotions—“I’m sad” or “I’m excited,” for instance—but don’t judge them as right or wrong, good or bad. 2. Find a healthy way to process these emotions. Refer back to the Develop a Personalized Method to Process Your Emotions exercise in Chapter 2. 3. Pay special attention to the processing technique of sharing your emotions with someone. Pick someone safe, loving, and discreet who isn’t too close to the situation. 4. If possible, wait to enter observer mode until your emotions have cooled. For example, wait until the situation doesn’t seem so bad or even so intensely good, or until you can see fresh perspectives, you start to soften toward a person or situation that upset you, or you can think less emotionally and more objectively or practically. If it’s not possible to wait to enter observer mode until your emotions have cooled, see the Enter Observer Mode Quickly exercise in this chapter. Connecting with and processing your own emotions first clears space for you to fully embrace observer mode with an open mind and heart. Switch Back and Forth Between Observing and Feeling Most of life exists in the gray areas or between extremes. Many times, especially with practice and understanding, you will be holding space with others by engaging both witnessing energy and your empath ability to open up and feel more, switching back and forth automatically between the two. You’re looking for a balance. If the balance feels too far to one extreme, lean back the other way. For example, if you’re opening up to feel (whether you’ve made the mindful decision to do this or your own energetic and emotional systems have engaged on their own), but you start to become emotionally overwhelmed and drained, mindfully switch into observer mode. Sometimes when an empath is feeling generally run-down, it’s a great time to practice leaning more toward witnessing energy to rebalance. On the other hand, if you’re feeling isolated or disconnected, or you simply want to feel more intimately connected with someone, switch out of observer mode and open up to feel with heart energy. Switching back and forth between witnessing energy and opening up to feel is something I do naturally in sessions with clients. You’re no doubt doing the same in your own life. For this exercise, you’ll simply be doing it more mindfully to help you get clear on what both approaches are like, as well as why and when you might switch back and forth. Try to let this exercise occur organically. You don’t have to plan for it ahead of time. Maybe after you read this section of the book, life will present you with the perfect opportunity to practice this exercise! Look for a situation where someone wants to share and confide in you about something that is upsetting them or something they’re really excited about. A situation like this should not be hard to come by, as many empaths naturally attract this sort of deep sharing. Then follow these steps. 1. As the person begins telling you what they’re upset or excited about, check in with yourself. Are you tired or anxious? If so, you might want to lead with witnessing energy, which can be less draining. Are you feeling bored or lonely, or has this other person already engaged your heart energy automatically? Perhaps opening up to feel more with your clairsentience will be nourishing or appropriate. 2. As the person keeps sharing and you engage with words of comfort or advice, or mirror back to them their own joy, check in with yourself about what you feel that person needs most. Would a grounded, calm witnessing energy help them ground or express and process emotions, or do you sense that letting your heart go out to them and feeling with them would make them feel more seen and less alone or strengthen/deepen your bond? 3. Once you decide mentally, or your energy and emotions decide naturally, which energy to lead with—witnessing or opening up to feel—notice how it beco