Adventures in Empathy…………?

Having awoken I go through my usual morning routine.
Strong , hot coffee with the usual breakfast cigarette sitting on the decking looking out onto my ramshackle garden.
Providing my dream time has not been excessively infiltrated by seemingly high definition, Kafkaesque imagery my mind usually starts the day in a kind of tabula rasa modality. That is to say ‘not a lot going on’.
Taking in the dank,early morning air my mind gradually fills with a mixture of recent memories, vague plans for the day an reflections on recently read articles that have instilled in me a sense of intrigue.
These thoughts start off innocuous enough.
– An excerpt from an interview with Carl Jung where he discusses the tendencies of intuitive introverts which seems to me a pretty accurate description of an empath
– A recollection of yesterdays evening walk around a nearby ancient hillfort as the Sun was setting on the horizon. Searing sunlight blazing ochre behind the clouds redolent of seams of lava breaking through the Earth
– A mentally sketched plan to get out and do a little photography hoping to catch some images of Summers tentative withdrawal making way for the initial tendrils of Autumn subtly tinging Natures landscapes.

Returning to the kitchen I remember that I’m nearly out of coffee.
I carefully consider as to whether my need for further caffeine outways my apprehension of walking to the local shop and getting involved in the outside world so early in the day. Having donned sunglasses and a thin cotton hoodie I deem that the need for coffee is greater.
Walking out on to the street I realise that I was perhaps a little unprepared for the subsequent inundation of stimuli from the outside world.
– The roar of car engines as certain drivers manifest their ire and frustration in the manner of their driving
– A radio station on high volume from a closely parked car carries the news of abject suffering of women and children in a not so far away land ( my heart withers slightly on hearing this )
– A father roughly pulls his child by the arm and loudly berates him in front of commuters, the child’s only sin being that he is a child, full of energy, intrigue and playfulness. I know the child feels pained , vulnerable and hurting but still looks at his father in unwavering love
– An elderly lady hobbles precariously just ahead of me. As I pass I smell the odour of stale alcohol from her. Her rheumy eyes seemingly out of focus, unable to acknowledge my passing. Many an amount of alcohol she has consumed in an attempt to dull her past pain, to drown out those unbearable feelings of despair wrought upon her by others misdeeds. What was once her crutch had become her ultimate demise, lost in a world of welcome drunken incoherence.

I suddenly find myself at my front door having relinquished the hazardous trek. I had apparently decided somewhat unconsciously that this was something that had to be done later, probably when it was dark.
That brief journey had left me breathless with ever escalating feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. In the past I would probably have remained in that raw state for the remainder of the day however now that I am aware of my empathic predisposition, I am able to quickly ground myself with mindfulness and meditative techniques.
Empathy is indeed a double edged sword.
It can give us the ability to become sensitive to the most beautiful and exquisite aspects of our lives but also to the darker aspects of ours and others souls.

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An Experiment in Authenticity

In my day to day life I try to be as authentic as possible, that is to say I act and speak in line with whom I am. Sometimes for reasons of social acceptability I may dilute myself somewhat in order to reduce the risk of having to get into protracted discussions / debates about my beliefs and perspectives on life. Not that I mind a bit of healthy intellectual debate but having done so, so many times simply to feel frustrated at the end of the conversation I rarely no longer am inclined to do so.

By way of explanation I seem to have a very different take on life than most people I know. I come at things from a kind of spiritually empathic viewpoint. It doesn’t mean that I am in some way better than other people, just that I seem to be of a very different mindset to those around me.
So, to get to the point, I thought that for a couple of days I would be as honestly open and authentic as I could possibly be. A kind of experiment shall we say.
It didn’t really go well.

My experience was that most individuals ‘turned off’ , that is, either changed the subject, made excuses to go and do something else or look at me quietly thinking that I was truly crazy.
A scenario being the simple though somewhat open ended question when someone asks you ‘ how are you today?’.
My honest response might well be ‘ I’m generally good though energetically a little out of kilter. A spot of meditative strolling through the woods always works. It’s that wholesome oneness you feel amongst Nature’.

A common question also being ‘what did you do last night?’.
My response may be something along the lines of ‘ I read Fritjof Capra’s book The Web of Life and his take on Deep Ecology. Later I sat outside breathing in the still night air and admiring the beauty of the dusk’,

So I’m thinking, how do I resolve this issue? Sure there are Facebook/ internet groups out there that discuss such things but somehow that doesn’t work for me.
I therefore surmise that I will remain authentic but will be diligent in terms of what I say and to whom!

A Conflict of Interest? 

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Society largely considers what is normal by the agreed consensus of the majority. However there are many individuals ( myself included) who by virtue of their natural predilections and personal interpretation of the world around us will never be ‘ normal’. This is by no means saying these people aren’t valuable, quite the contrary in fact. They may have a certain quality in their perspective which can infuse us with inspiration and reflect a deep, contrasting insight into the nature of reality. 

These souls may be labeled occasionally as autistic, mentally ill, over sensitive, eccentric or simply ‘different’.  Indeed being empathic ( energetically sensitive) I feel that many of us find growing up and maturing in the outside world something of a unique challenge. 

At an early age we may discover that we are different from our peers and often our parents. 

The constant emphasis when at school and by others on the physical, percievable, allegedly concrete world felt as if most people only lived in a 2D reality. Their world seemed to have little depth, a linear monologue of an existence. 

Through many conversations that I have had with others with similar experiences it seems we have much in common when it comes to living our lives and the challenges we face. For example, having been born into a society which operates on a model that is the antithesis of what we feel to be right.  This can lead to :

  – subsequent feelings of loneliness and alienation which may lead to social withdrawal, addictive behaviors ( in order to numb our sensitivity), mental disorder or feeling that we have to wear a socially acceptable mask in order to fit in. 

If we do this however we compromise our ability to individuate and fully bloom into complete self actualization.  This may leave us feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. 

  – having to constantly assert our needs to others as most people presume that our needs must be similar to theirs ( in terms of space, down time, opportunity to be creative etc) 

  – finding oneself in constant conflict with others and institutions that prioritize materialism and egotism

  – having the desire for honest, open, loving human contact but mostly having to compromise due to the apparent lack of individuals who are unable to form relationships that do not involve some degree of attachment and / or dependence. 

 To summarise, in my opinion I feel it is important to remember:

  • Every individual has a unique history and a unique physiological / psychological make up
  • Therefore everyone has their own potential to fulfil ( whether or not it is in line with society’s expectations)
  • As a society we should encourage everyone to fulfil that potential.
  • Not to be quick to judge others and readily put people into boxed categories, for this can easily become harmful. 

Namaste 💜

As One…………. 

I believe numinous and spiritual experience are ever present around us, it simply takes for our perception to be open to it. However most of us go though life largely unaware of the truly exquisite magical nature of our world around us. As empathic / spiritual individuals I feel we are more open to a kind of energetic intimacy which is vastly more profound and sensual.

It may be in form of a spectacular view,  a feeling of oneness with nature or some other occurrence that we intrinsically recognise as something ‘other’ than our more frequent day to day perception. 

And on rare occasions it appears it can be interpersonal :

I hardly know you but when I think of you or if I am graced enough to be in your presence something extraordinary happens to me.  My spirit is given flight, all my senses are heightened seemingly to ensure that in no way  I miss any aspect of your divine self. I bathe in your gaze and become lost deep in your eyes. Any self control I have, has withered away as I respond to your every word and gesture.

To others it would appear to be an intimate friendship but when we are together we are as one, intrinsically in synchronicity in our interaction. The content and context of our verbal and non verbal responses are immaterial, they simply serve the purpose of allowing us to subtly and with pure, intense sensuality mingle our individual energies. Consummating our union with every word, touch and exchange of eye contact. Any sense of time is lost as this is beyond physicality, this is the realm of the eternal soul. There is no beginning neither no end, only this moment for eternity.

Anyone watching would see I was lost to you, like prey willingly hypnotised by an enigmatic predator. As a sailor must have been drawn to his personal death by the seductive call of the mermaid, I too wish to answer my heart and souls call to be as one with you. Even if it meant that I was never to find myself again it would be  small loss to be a part of you, always.

View from an Empath 

Sitting on a wooden bench outside my local public house I stretch my aching legs and decide rest up a while from my countryside walk. 

There is a faint breeze ushering in the early dusk bringing with it a chill tincture of the night ahead. The smell of freshly mown grass adds to the subtle atmosphere of near perfect sanguinity I begin to feel. Taking a small sip from the cold beer held tenderly in my hand and placing it down upon the table I begin to relax even further. 

As I light my ( occasional) cigarette I watch my exhaled smoke form a brief swirling pattern in the air before finally dissipating in the gentle wind. With that last out breath I feel as if I have also cast out any feelings of tension that may have remained leaving myself in a pleasantly grounded state of awareness and reflection. 

Pausing, my attention moves to taking in whomsoever is in my vicinity on this calm and tranquil evening. 
  – the somewhat overdressed, heavily made up lady with her male partner sitting at a table on the opposite side of the lawn. It feels that she is constantly undermined and criticised. She seems to no longer to have the self confidence to escape after years of negativity. She is veritably trapped, feeling she deserves nothing more than what she has. 

  – the older gentleman sitting by himself in the corner, a baseball cap covering his eyes as he nurses his glass of spirit and ice. An ex military man, mumbling a soliloquy of painful memories and regrets. Rheumy eyes gaze blearily out from under his cap as the waitress delivers another in a long line  of shorts. It may not numb the pain but his mind will be disabled enough to compromise his ability to dwell on the past until sleep or unconsciousness overcome him. 

  – the young couple sitting nervously opposite one another across another bench. A fledgling relationship, both a little anxious about saying or doing the wrong thing laugh uncomfortably in conversation. Both fidgeting restlessly but desperately seeking each other’s eye contact. 

  – the young mother doting on her two year old, making entreaties for him to eat. Her partner sits there disinterested, texting on his mobile phone. His demeanor suggests his belief of that he is an ‘alpha male’. His overt masculinity she once found attractive, however now all she feels is oppressed and disregarded. 

  – a young man laughing and joking loudly with his male peers, feigning confidence and social adeptness. His insecurity given away by his frequent glances to his peers to assess to what degree he is accepted and as to whether his manner is being well received. 

Feeling a little depleted energy wise, I move my awareness to the surrounding landscape beyond the beer garden. The leaves on the trees shimmering in the slight breeze, the cattle grazing and  lowing quietly on the outlying hills, the coarse caws from a family of rooks passing overhead and the subtle coo of a nearby wood pigeon help to energetically reconvene. 

As I walk away to resume my stroll in the countryside I cannot help but wonder why it is that humans are seemingly so complicated and frequently so unhappy at times. Surely if we were living in our ‘natural state’ then you would think that our behaviour would be more sentient as it appears with fellow species here on Earth. 

I endeavour to leave such thoughts behind however, not wanting them to detract from the essential essence of Nature’s presence.

Primal Empathy 

Primal Empathy 

( or my current take on understanding empathic awareness) 
Within ancient cultures ( especially of the indigenous form), animism seems to have been the original belief system adopted by humanity. It’s a little paradoxical however because the ‘practice’ of, and the animist beliefs associated them were never extrinsic to man’s early existence. 
“Our original way is not a belief system. It is a lived way of life, being a participant within the whole of the living world”. (Graham Harvey 2014).
We were closer to Nature, creatures, objects and places were all perceived to have a spiritual essence. All was deemed to be animate and alive. 

Bearing this in mind it would be quite understandable that the human race had a natural empathic relationship with the world around them. 

This may thus suggest that empathy was an organic and naturally occurring emotion in early Man. 

Even today, one can still read of other cultures for whom this ethos predominates i.e. Native American and the indigenous Aboriginal let alone historical references including Hinduism and Buddhism to name but two. 

The question is, what happened? 

It seems patently obvious that currently most of society are happy to act as blind consumers of the Earth’s resources, be it animal, plant or mineral. 

Even with each other there is an ongoing one upmanship. Individuals seeking more wealth and power than our peers in order to satiate our ego’s, thus warding off the underlying feelings of insecurity and disconnection. 

Have we been socialised and conditioned out of these feelings? 

For those of who are genuinely ’empathic’ or energetically sensitive, it would explain much. 

Many of us feel :

  – a natural loving affinity for all of Nature and the Earth 

  – an acute ability to feel the pain of others including humans, animals and the environment 

  – out of place in Western Society, as if we belong elsewhere 

  – often a sense of loneliness and anxiety eased when in Nature

 So if this were the case, what can we draw from this supposition? 

I personally feel that we need to remain authentic to ourselves and to individuate as individuals. This way we can be led by Spirit to serve our worldly purpose. We may not know the whole picture but in many ways we do not need to. We can be content in the knowledge that we are here to serve a purpose and to this we must be true. We should not mistake our empathic gift to be something to be used for personal gain or to be seen in isolation as a burden on ourselves as sometimes it may seem. 

For being energetically sensitive is all about connection and realising the interconnectivity of all creation. 

I have been fortunate in having experiences of feral vision and Advaita which seem to support this scenario. 

Therefore the existence of the Oversoul / Collective Unconscious /Paramatman appears to be a defining issue in understanding true empathic feelings. 
“I feel it with my body, with my blood. Feeling all these trees, all this country. When this wind blow you can feel it. Same for country … you feel it. You can look, but feeling … that make you. Feeling make you, out there in open space. He coming through your body, look while he blow and feel with your body…because tree just about your brother or father…and tree is watching you. Earth…like your father or brother or mother, because you born from earth. You got to come back to earth. When you dead…you’ll come back to earth. Maybe little while yet…then you’ll come to earth. That’s your bone, your blood. It’s in this earth, same as for tree” (Bill Neidjie 1985).

Tat Tvam Asi……?

As many of us go through times of what seems spiritual growth a number of occurrences may happen. 

  – Our human ego becomes transparent ( as do the covert ego led actions of others). That is to say we still have instinctual urges and drives but we see them for what they are, merely actions to defend itself and preserve its fragile integrity.

  – We transcend in our awareness of the world around us, well over and above our previous human egoic based interpretations we had held before. 

  – Paradoxically we may perceive ourselves and the world around us as a vastly interconnected web yet seamless in our shared existence. 

  – Whereas our previously ‘reality’ may have been defined in human terms as the experience of life that is identified with the majority of individuals within that particular society. It may now include much numinous experience. For example of being aware of the mythic aspects of self and society. Of the subtle but substance of dreams,  visions and unexplainable personal epiphanies. 

 

If these instances occur one can easily find oneself feeling isolated and alone as few others share similar experiences. 

These feelings may not be new, especially to those of us who have ’empathic tendencies’. 

For those of us who are ‘energetically sensitive’ ( or empathic), most, if not all of our lives can be spent being misunderstood not only by others but also by ourselves! 
Ironically if we can incorporate our empathic perceptions into an understanding of the nature of existence, we see that we are far from alone. The fact that we can preternaturally sense the energies of people, places and objects suggests that there is an aspect of self in others. As in the  Sanskrit phrase ‘ Tat Tvam Asi ‘, meaning ‘ Thou art that ‘ ( from the Chandogya Upanishad). 

Empathy therefore, if one is able to nurture it effectively can be a springboard into spiritual awareness. Whereas if one sees it as a solely personal, human quality in isolation, it may well become something of a burden. 
In summary, empathic awareness along with spiritual awareness can easily leave our human, egoic selves feeling alone and isolated. Yet paradoxically from a spiritual / objectively empathic perspective the suggestion is that of the unity of all things, of there not being a identifiable separate self.