Before I completed the Reiki healing course I did not know that I was an Empath. The conversation began with something like, “you might be an Empath if...” and the instructor started describing the traits and symptoms of what it looks like or rather feels like to be an Empath. What she said resonated with me on a soul level.
To be an Empath is more than just relating to what someone is going through, it is the ability to read, understand and feel what that person is experiencing. Sometimes it is voluntary and at other times it is not. You are either an Empath or you are not, it is not something that can be learned. As a result, an Empath experiences the world quite differently. They tend to be hypersensitive to the environment and the energy of others and it can often be difficult to fit in with mainstream beliefs and norms. For instance, everyday activities such as being in a crowd or watching TV or the news may be overwhelming or unbearable.
Empaths can experience feelings towards family, friends, strangers, pets, plants, nature, the planet, etc. It is not restricted by space or time and therefore Empaths can feel the emotions of people and things at a distance. It hurt my heart a little when I looked up the definition of Empath, it stated: (chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual... As someone who is capable of this, it saddens me to think we live in a world where such a gift is defined as fictitious or paranormal. On the other hand it makes me laugh as Empaths are certainly not 'apprehending' anybody's mental or emotional state but rather sharing and experiencing full on, the feelings of that individuals pain, happiness, sadness or anxiety, etc. When defining apprehended: “to understand or perceive” there again seems to be missing the integral piece of the Empaths ability to feel what is being perceived or understood.
I was previously unaware that a deep sense of knowing accompanies an Empath and though compassion and understanding make great virtues and can assist in healing, they can also be problematic or at times overwhelming. It can often be difficult for an Empath to distinguish their own feelings from those of others. Especially when it comes to feelings of pain, suffering or sadness which can be emotionally and physically demanding. Empaths can perceive physical sensitivities and spiritual urges as well. Remember, everything has an energetic vibration and an Empath has the ability to sense these vibrations.