There are spiritual approaches that encourage you to ignore your person, perhaps saying that the body-mind or ego is an illusion. This can indeed be the experience at certain points on the journey. But this is just a phase. To properly integrate spiritual progress and function in the world, avoiding or ignoring our humanity is a mistake. It can lead us to get caught in avoidance routines or fail to recognize when we’re getting deluded. I’ve seen several teachers fall into this trap.
The issue is not the ego nor the humanity but our attachment to them. We want to soften our identification with a me, not act like it’s not there. Besides, most of us are not monks. We live in the world.
Much more healthy is balanced development that heals and opens us to our higher nature. This is then lived within the apparent person and life. Enlightenment isn’t a goal, it’s a way of living. And you don’t get there through avoidance.
As it turns out, these points are even more true for an empath as avoidance is often one of the sub-conscious workarounds we develop when young. While it’s entirely ineffective, making it sub-conscious drops it off the radar. For a child, out of sight is out of mind. But we still notice the effects as we vacuum up stress and impressions (according to our gifts) around us.
Becoming skilled teaches us how to turn those gifts off, easily. That may well be a very unfamiliar experience at first. Yet all we need do is learn a simple positioning of attention, here instead of everywhere else. When I first did some empath awareness exercises, I discovered I had no experiential reference point for “Off.” It’s as if I discovered I had a radio scanner on all the time in the background*, playing other people’s stuff. Having visiting monkey minds. Ignoring it was little help. I could switch stations some but where was the off switch? And why couldn’t I control the volume better?
As you may imagine, turning off the radio and being here is good for both quality of life and spiritual progress.
But let’s back up – what is an empath?
As Rose Rosetree defines it, an empath is someone born with at least one gift for directly experiencing part of what it is like to be other, often another person. About 1 in 20 are born empaths.
Because we’re born with the gifts, we make early, sub-conscious adaptations to them. We rarely learn how to turn them off so they become background burdens rather than benefits.
Because we don’t know off, we’re always on, making split-second sub-conscious empath merges. That built-in radio scanner is constantly scanning if those around are OK or safe or similar. But this background noise muddies all experience. Plus we unintentionally take on some energetic debris in the process. If we happen to have a Oneness style gift, we also experience the noise as our own rather than someone else’s. This further confuses life and weakens our sense of self.
The priority is thus gaining skills and learning to turn off the scanner most of the time.
Rose Rosetree is a pioneer in helping empaths, writing the first English book in the field. Because of her long research and experience, her material is well ahead of anything else I’ve seen. It’s been immensely helpful.
Rose has described these Empath Types:
Physical, Medical, Emotional, Intellectual, Astral, Spiritual, Molecular, Plant, Animal, Crystal (Mineral), Mechanical, & Environmental.
These gifts can come in 3 Styles:
– Oneness – direct experience of that aspect of another (Frieda’s emotional pain, for example) but it’s very personal so seems to be “mine”.
– Intuitive – direct experience but it’s clear it’s not yours. We know Joe has a headache, for example.
– Informational – combined mixture of the above.
Rose distinguishes several (Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual) into Intuition and Oneness types because they’re more distinct. Some people have both. With the rest, she’s found they’re normally the Informational/ Combined style.
Within this there are many individual variations in emphasis and strength and combination.
There’s a great deal of nonsense or very limited understanding out there on this topic. I ran into a video recently of an apparently sensible woman saying that everyone can be an empath with the right training. But if you are one, too bad. You must avoid too much social contact, wear large protection rocks, and do other useless things to adapt. Sheesh! No wonder Rose has trademarked her advanced system of Empath Empowerment®.
It’s important to know that Empath gifts differ greatly from Intuitive skills like Psychic Knowing, even if they seem the same. They may even give the same information but the means is distinct. Thus, the techniques to become skilled are different.
You have several options for learning empath skills.
1) Personal Mentoring – Rose offers direct coaching from a very experienced teacher
2) Annual Workshops – Rose offers annual workshops to learn Empath skills in a group
3) Books – Rose has a book series to guide you through the learning process. While slower, it is less expensive.
The first book Rose recommends (the Recommended List), and I concur, is this one:
Become The Most Important Person in the Room [UPDATE – Become the Most Important book was replaced in 2018 with a new version called “Empath Empowerment in 30 Days”]
With a strange but surprisingly apt title for empaths, this book is designed to be read & learned in small parts over 30 days. The book was a real wake-up for me and offered a lot of context for my life, even reframing a hunk of it. I explore that here. It helps you get more conscious of the dynamics and old bad habits and work-arounds. And it offers various techniques to try. I found it an excellent introduction.
With that background, you’re then ready for the next stage. If time is an issue, you can read The Empowered Empath, Quick & Easy. It’s half the size of The Empowered Empath below. It has the same techniques but less background. However, if you want to understand your gifts better, I recommend this one next:
The Empowered Empath
This book is quite a different style. It goes into much more detail on the empath types and includes some newer ones. She explores the benefits and challenges of each. Rather than the many techniques to choose from in Become, this one has fewer techniques that mostly build to one combo called “Coming Home.” I found it very effective for turning things off. I was surprised how effective it was, even though it’s deceptively simple.
It’s useful to mention that many of Rose’s books are like workbooks. You read them over once, then go back and read them more closely while you build skills. This has taken some time for me as my work includes a great deal of reading. But skills and insights have continued to develop.
For later: The Master Empath
This one is a follow-up for after you’ve become quite skilled. It offers instruction on how to turn your gifts on safely, do a Skilled Empath Merge, and turn them back off again. This allows you to get information consciously and without the extra baggage. In her chart, Rose places types of Skilled Empath Merge ahead of Stage 3 Energetic literacy.
I can certainly see the advantages of doing this in a conscious, skilled way. For myself, I’m not decently skilled yet so I’ll keep Master Empath on the shelf until I’m more ready. For now, I am very happy to have some control over the scanner and not to be walking around with a stress vacuum. (laughs)
* to be clear, this dynamic hasn’t been personal for some time. But it was adding unnecessary noise to the surface levels of life in far more ways than I realized.