When I say empath, I don’t mean that you’re able to see both sides of an argument, that you’re sympathetic, that you can “feel their pain”. Sure, that’s part of it, but I mean that when you’re in crowds you feel like you’re drowning, suffocated, like everyone’s on top of you. Some days you can’t look anybody in the eye or you’ll spiral down a dark hole of depression that has nothing to do with you. You are so strongly attuned to the people close to you that their energies imprint themselves on you and you get hit with mood swings you don’t understand.

Is any of this sounding familiar?

**there are many different kinds of empaths. I am specifically speaking to the emotional empaths out there like myself.**

Empathy is a gift, but it often feels like a curse when you’re walking down the street and are getting hit with nuclear bombs of emotion. Our empathy makes us want to help the people closest to us, so we say “give me your burdens” – literally. But this doesn’t take their burden away and it only brings you down with them so your focus becomes just as muddled as theirs and you can’t do anything anyway. Who does that help? Nobody.

Great. So now what? Well, I think the answer lies somewhere in all of that inspirational content about getting to know yourself, spending more time looking in, all that jazz. It’s great advice for everybody, but I think that to some degree it’s even more important for those of us who are empathically inclined.

Sure, ok, how do we do that with all of these awful distractions? Those plentiful messages don’t often tell us how to actually go about this. It would be great if we could just run away and meditate on a mountain for a month or a year or forever, but that’s not exactly an option at the moment, at least not for me.

I was recently expressing my overwhelming frustrations about this to a friend and she told me I need to get into Reiki.

If you haven’t heard of it (I hadn’t) Reiki is a system for channeling universal life-force energy to someone for the purpose of healing. It addresses imbalances in our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies and helps harmonize body, mind and spirit.

I know, it sounds kooky to some. They hear the words “energy” and “healing” in the same sentence and the skeptical light in their brains click on.

But stay with me for a bit…I got my level one certification, have been working with this for only about a month now, and it’s already changing my life.

Initially I wanted to use this as a productive way to channel my empathy and actually have a positive impact on the people around me. That was more important to me than self-healing and it seemed better than my unsuccessful “Literally give me your burdens” method. And then my teacher who’s also an empath and knows the struggle said that if I want to become a practitioner that’s wonderful, but I should use this first and foremost a self-healing journey. And she was right.

I’m still learning and growing in this practice, but even just this last month of practicing on myself and my close friends has had a huge impact. It’s helped with my anxiety, I’m not afraid to leave the apartment anymore, I want to be outside in nature all the time, I’m moderating my intake of alcohol and caffeine because I don’t want anything to distort what I’m experiencing, and I’m slowly becoming more able in blocking out those unwanted energies, recognizing which moods are or aren’t mine, and learning how to ground myself when I start to feel like I’m being pulled in a dozen directions.

I’m learning what it feels like to live within my personal energy body, and mine only, and the great importance of that. I’m understanding the box I’ve shut myself into, the potential I have, strengths I never before realized, what it is I really and truly want and feeling confident in asserting those things. Basically, I feel like a super version of myself, and it’s incredible.

Don’t get me wrong, breaking myself out of the box I’ve built is frustrating and absolutely terrifying. As an empath I’m able to create those cords that tie me to the people I love, the cords that give me their emotions or physical pains. And that has become a HUGE part of my identity. But now I’m learning that I have to break those cords. It’s imperative for my personal health, and I’m still trying to come to terms with that, but I know it’s true. It’s hard, and it’s sad, but then I remind myself that this is a more productive way to help, to heal, both others and myself. I have always been controlled by my empathy, and now I’m learning how to break that unhealthy cycle.

I already feel that I’m better able to help others because of it. Now I can serve as an objective vessel of healing instead of a frantic mess of energies consistently running into brick walls. And even if I felt my life being pulled in a different direction, away from a healing purpose, being more centered with myself enables me to actually focus on the things that I love instead of the things holding me back.

I’ve always been a proponent of self love and care and getting to know yourself, but for the first time I am successfully experiencing just how important it is for us empaths, specifically, to become more self-attuned.

At first I was just going to save this post as a draft and wait until I’ve completed the other levels, as if becoming a “Master” will have completed my journey and I’ll be better able to impart wisdom on you all. But it’s all about the journey, you never complete the journey.

If any of you have had experience with Reiki, I would love to hear about it! If you feel inspired to try it, I’m glad my testimony could do that for you, but it isn’t for everybody so whatever direction you choose for your personal self-healing journey, I wish you love.