(What you see below is the introductory lesson to my upcoming Tools for Empaths online course. You can get more details and/or register for the course here. Early registration pricing ends May 14 at 5pm)
Tools for Empaths: Revolution through Connection
A Short Introduction
We love. We see. We feel. So much. All the time.
Oh, my intrepid empathian explorers. Welcome!
In the coming weeks, you’ll be learning a lot — about yourself, your relationships and the world around you. You’ll be invited to explore from a place of curiosity, openness and love as we go on a multidimensional journey together.
You’ll also be entering my worldview for a bit. So I wanted to send out a little introduction to tell you a bit about myself and my path. It’s important that you know a bit about where I’m coming from and what biases I bring to the table. This helps with the critical thinking ad discernment parts of the adventure we’re about to take together.
A bit about my life and process
I’ve always been a feeler. But for the first 25 or so years of my life, that came through as detachment and aloofness, except for when I was with soul tribe or kindred spirits. Many called me shy. Some mistook my quietness for bitchiness. But it wasn’t really either of those things.
In my language, I was living out my Aquarian Sun which is in fact detached, quite aloof and highly intellectual. What I came to recognize, however, was that I also have a Scorpio Moon. I feel things real fucking deeply, but due to early childhood trauma (namely, the sudden death of my he’s-everything-to-me father), all those feelings got shut down. At the age of six, I went into a state of perpetual overwhelm because I felt so much, and my little body didn’t really know how to cope with all that feeling.
When I was 19, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and began seeing a therapist who used hypnosis as a tool. She took me back to that moment when I learned my dad had died. She had me observe my six-year-old self, sitting there on the bed while her mom kneeled in front of her, telling her that her dad had died.
But let’s backtrack just a bit. Before my mom arrived to break the news to me, I had been with the neighbors who did not tell me what had happened. Instead they were waiting for my mom to arrive to tell me.
But I could feel it.
I could feel the ripples of their emotions and the tension in the air so much so that when my mom finally arrived and I saw that she had been crying, I just burst out sobbing, needing to know what was going on. I had the emotional imprint of what had happened, but not the left-brain mental information to go with it.
So, in that therapy room, as my 19-year-old self observed my six-year-old self from a hypnotic state, I watched as that little girl version of me received the information that her favorite person in the world was no more. My therapist guided me to go over and give the little girl a hug.
But I couldn’t move forward. I couldn’t move.
The ripples of shock around that little version of myself were so intense, that every time I’d attempt to move into her field, I couldn’t move forward because it was too overwhelming for even my adult self to handle.
Furthermore, that six-year-old girl began instantly care-taking. Trying to make it so that no one around her was upset. Downplaying her own grief. Avoiding spaces where intense emotion might live — like the funeral, or gatherings of people as community members gathered to mourn.
That was the case for years. She tried to keep the balance and the peace (without, of course, knowing that was what she was doing), while trying to avoid the onslaught of other people’s emotions.
We’ll talk about the psychology behind that form of care taking — so prominent among Empaths — more in depth in this course.
Flash forward to 2007. I had just finished my undergraduate degree in social sciences and emerged with a desire to keep learning and studying, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on. I decided it was a good time to delve into astrology and get back into tarot, which I’d loved dabbling in as a teen.
This decision to focus on what interested me rather than what I thought I should be learning led me down a rabbit hole that I’m still navigating. It also brought me to my first ‘woo’ class.
I learned a lot there. It was definitely a major player in a larger spiritual revolution going on in my life. For our intents and purposes here, what is important to note is that it was the first time I had really come into contact with the idea that certain types of people sponge other people’s emotions.
I mean, I kinda knew that already. But I also didn’t really know it. I didn’t have the language or context to put my weird experiences into words.
And I really didn’t know it until they had us start working with energetic shields as a daily practice. Holy crap. All of a sudden I was able to start discerning between what I was feeling and what everyone else was feeling. I became aware of how much stuff — emotions, energy, blockages, pains — I carried that weren’t mine. I became aware of the toll it had taken on me all my life.
I was shocked. I felt more free. And I was kinda weirded out.
In the 12 years since then, I’ve learned a lot about my own ways of knowing and perceiving, and about this thing we call being an Empath.
Depth psychology, Soul and Imagination
I also learned about depth psychology. Well, I got a master’s degree in it actually. Depth psychology, which is heavily based in the works of C.J. Jung, and an offshoot of Jungian Psychoanalysis, is a theory of psychology that pays reverence to the actual meaning of the word psychology:
psyche = soul (it’s also the Greek word for butterfly)
logos = logic
Psychology is supposed to be a discipline that seeks to understand the logic of the soul. Not the mind. Mind is different. It is concerned with thinking and intellect, categorization, logic and linearity.
But, you see, soul is such a vast, nebulous thing. The mind is a bit easier to understand and discuss. Soul correlates with the emotional body. It is the irrational realms, which exist outside of the pejorative use of irrational as a way to describe the parts of our experience that we cannot necessarily or strictly categorize.
The soul is connected to our unconscious, and because it doesn’t really fit into the scientific method, it makes folks really uncomfortable.
That does not mean it does not exist.
My studies into depth psychology, which coincided with my immersion into evolutionary astrology, unlocked a door into my psyche that allowed me to begin to understand myself in ways I never thought possible.
It opened me up to the world of imagination which was not, as I had been conditioned to believe, something childish or unreal. I learned that the psyche — the soul — speaks through the imagination. It speaks through the language of images.
And images aren’t just visual things we see. Images are robust and highly efficient means of communication that come to us as things we see with our mind or our mind’s eye.
But images can also be physical and somatic.
Think about how you might crane your neck to the side when you’re trying to get some tension out of it. Or how you might get a sick feeling in your stomach when someone is late to pick you up.
What if, in that moment of feeling sick, you did what body wanted you to do, be that to bend over and rock back and forth while holding it, or vomiting? What if you were then reminded of that time when your mom was late to pick you up from school, and then you lost your lunch all over your teacher’s shoes and were so thoroughly embarrassed that you never told anyone?
These are all images. The visual of the body crouched over — its poses and positions. The bodily sensations. The memories themselves. The feelings. The colors.
Here’s another example: say you walk into a room that smells of cinnamon and clove. Scent is directly connected into memory. You’re directly transported to another time and place as the memory arises. You feel the things you felt in that memory. It’s not just a mind-exercise, your body — and dare I say it soul — retained their own version of the events as well. Heart pangs. Relaxed muscles. The full imprint is still there.
The language of soul is highly efficient. Every detail has a meaning. We just have to start the task of finding the connections that will help us to understand from a left-brain (intellectual) perspective.
The soul also adores speaking in metaphor and simile.
Her stomach clenched, possessed by the torment of a forgotten child.
Their anxiety buzzed in their abdomen as if they had been abandoned forever
The soul is pure poetry, y’all.
Putting it together…or at least starting to!
OK, so how is this relevant…to anything?
Well, for one thing, I’m telling you about my biases, and I am in fact biased towards seeing soul as real, and through encouraging you to start to find the links between the different ways your own soul speaks to you.
But also because this is a course steeped in depth psychology. I believe that anyone trodding the path of an empathic type — or trying to support folks in their lives who are — benefits immensely from going down deep within themselves at certain points in life to figure out their own psychology, what their triggers feel like, and increase self awareness. This work helps us to act more authentically, cultivate discernment and opt out of drama.
Empaths can be prone to lots of drama. Yeah, that’s true, too.
I say all of this knowing that most of the lovely empaths I come across already hold themselves to high standards of ‘going deep’ — somethings detrimentally so! Which is part of why we’re doing this course over a span of weeks, in order to build a container where at least a portion of this work can be done in safety, with gratitude, and at whatever level is right for you.
Although I have very specific teachers for my depth psychological side (Alexandra Hepburn and Randy Morris in person; Carl Jung, James Hillman and a host of other depth psychology peeps indirectly), my astrological side (Steven Forrest, Patricia Walsh, Mark Jones, Antero Alli are the primary in-person teachers; sooooo many others indirectly), and my world-on-the-verge-of-paradigm-shift side (Randy Morris again; Richard Tarnas and Joanna Macy indirectly), when it comes to the Empath stuff… well, I don’t know that I’ve ever worked with anyone directly on that. I have been supported for sure, but much of what you’ll be learning from me is a conglomeration of wisdom from the teachers I’ve mentioned; books and articles I’ve read; healers I’ve worked with; my own processes; the past nine years of working with clients navigating this terrain; ideas that come to me as I’m putting the course material together; personal experiences and discoveries.
The key to this work is to pay attention to yourself. To open up to your own ways of knowing. To engage from a sense of curiosity with boundaries and discernment. To ask questions. As I say in all of my sessions — take what works for you and leave the rest.
Although, if you have a repulsion response, there’s potentially something there for you to work with… but we’ll get to that in lessons 3-5.
Oh, and one more bias? I guess I’ll cut to the chase and save you the suspense. I feel fairly confident that all beings are probably what we call ‘empaths’, and that we’re all ultimately wired to feel things. Science is starting to catch up with that, and we’ll talk about that a bit, too. But I do believe our world is facing paradigm shift, and that part of what can help is a healthy and empowered reunion with the realities of the inherent connection of all things.
So thanks for being here and taking part in that goal.
Assignments (yeah, I’m totally giving you pre-assignments)
Between whenever you read this and the beginning of the class, I’m inviting you to give yourself a head start on a daily practice, which is something you’ll be building and hopefully sticking to throughout the class. I’ll be introducing different techniques, and you can either make your own practice with a hodgepodge of them or follow a specific script I’ll give you.
For now, here’s what I recommend:
Make space for an Altar
If you don’t have an altar in your home, start trying to figure out where you can put one. If you need examples, you can check out my instagram (aquarianspirals), cuz I post altars large and small there quite regularly. Don’t be intimidated, though — it can be any spot where you feel good spending time in quiet, internal practices. Have fun with it. Typical altar items include candle(s), something for incense, stones, flowers really anything meaningful to you.
As for a practice…
Just try to do the following which is adapted from an exercise found in a book about TIbetan Shamanism, called Healing with Form, Energy and Light by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. It looks like a lot of words, but the practice itself takes maybe 2 minutes. Every morning would be great, but you do you. Even once is helpful.
Gratitude & Nine Purification Breaths
Sit with your eyes closed with a comfortable posture. Feet on the ground or crossed. Take three really deep breaths in and out, letting yourself fully inhale and fully exhale. Then just return your attention to regular breathing.
Bring to mind three simple things you’re grateful for. Say them out loud.
When you’re ready, do this version of the Buddhist Nine Purification Breaths:
Put your left thumb against the pad at the base of your left ring finger. Use your left ring finger to close your left nostril. Imagine breathing in emerald green light (the light of cleansing and purifying) through your right nostril.
Use your left ring finger to close your right nostril, and breathe out through your left nostril, imagining all toxicities, impurities, stagnant or negative energies associated with the part of you that desires, initiates and takes action leaving you with your breath as light blue air.
Do this three times.
Now switch. Put your right thumb against the pad at the base of your right ring finger, and use your right ring finger to close your right nostril. Imagine breathing in emerald green light through your left nostril.
Use your right ring finger to close your left nostril, and breathe out through your right nostril, imagining all toxicities, impurities and any stagnant or negative energies associated with the parts of you that are receptive, intuitive and emotion-based leaving you with your exhalation as light pink air.
Do this three times.
Now place both of your hands in your lap, palms up, left hand on top of right (or whatever feels best for you). Imagine breathing in emerald green light through both nostrils. With your exhalation, imagine a puff or cloud of smoke going out the top of your head. This is any negative, stagnant or foreign energy associated with your ancestral line, your family, and what is not yours and no longer serves you.
Do this three times.
Return to regular breathing. Remember the three things you’re grateful for, and say them out loud again.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.
See you soon.