When a Little is Too Much: Exercises for the Troubled Empath

Found on Pinterest, artist unknown

A lot of folk have many interpretations of what exactly an Empath is. Most of these people aren’t Empaths. As an Empath I will tell you exactly what it is: absolute fucking hell. Recently there’s been a trend (I shouldn’t even have to call it that) where everybody has depression, anxiety, panic attacks etc. and say it’s because they are an empath. No. While everyone will experience these at some point, most of these people simply blame their symptoms on being an Empath. After that, the anxiety and depression go away and they just think they got a handle of it. Well I’m bout to help y’all get grip.

Being an Empath is not shits and giggles. It is sleepless nights crying so hard without reason. Sometimes crying so hard your nose starts bleeding. It’s trying to physically throw up other people’s garbage, but you can’t so the crying gets worse and the bleeding continues. Being an Empath means feeling scratches on your skin that aren’t there as you pass someone mowing their lawn. It’s having your heart ripped out by words that weren’t said, pierced by the pains of the world, while your mind is flooded by a sea of emotions.

It is a curse. To feel so deeply for everything that the emotions overload your brain and your just left sitting there like an empty shell, a hollow of someone you’re not sure you ever were. The first time I remember feeling another’s pain was when my father was beating my mother and smashed her head into a fuse box. I felt the cuts and heat on my head and began crying. I think that is what sent it into overdrive for most of my childhood.

Many think that Empathy only involves the feeling of other people’s feelings and pain, but it goes much further than that. It includes many other “abilities” besides basic Clairsentience. Empaths are extremely sensitive to the worlds around them. I say worlds because Empathy doesn’t stop at one dimension. I’m not an Empath guru or nothing, I can only speak from experience and with the techniques that I’ve developed.

I’ve experienced the following in connection to my own Empathic abilities: accessing the memory of objects and place, speaking and communing with animals and  the Wee Folk, seeing behind the pains of strangers, diagnosing illness before physical symptoms appear and sensing the origin of pain in the body. The list goes on.

Empaths aren’t just sponges as people think we are. When we have control over this “gift”, we gain access to the memories, vibrations and energies of this and other dimensions.

Empathy works (in scientific terms) in a simple manner. Everything has an energetic vibration that Empaths are able to pick up on. Most people can feel the tension in a room or when someone is sad, but with Empaths it is mostly in overdrive. I’ve heard other people’s thoughts while walking through the mall!

Empaths are able to pick up the presence of animals, people, spirits, changes in temperature and weather, the activity in natural environments, and even the “memory of a place” or item. I remember finding a bunch of multi-colored stones at rock creek in Erwin and the first things I felt when I picked some up was 1) they weren’t natural to this area and 2) someone dumped them there. As to why they were dumped and left I never got that answer.

There are different levels of empathy that I have found. Some people are exhibit all levels at once, while others only show some or none at all. Yes, there are some people who are so closed off, most wouldn’t even put them under the label of Empath, but they are what I call “shelled emapths”. We’ll get to that later.

While each of the following levels are gifts by themselves and can be developed by non-Empaths, they seem to be exhibited in the Empath by a sort of psychic DNA. Every empath will show more than three of these, based on how finely tuned their gifts are.

Here are the 10 levels of empathy:

Claircognizance – this is the ability to know what needs to be done. It’s like the emotional sensors take over for a bit and act in accordance with this knowing. When in full power and under control, Empaths seemingly react with no reaction; they simply do what needs done. The absence of this shows in those who basically cry over spilt milk.

Clairsentience – this is the Empaths ability to feel the emotions and energies of another. This also includes being able to read the emotions regarding the past, as it leaves an energetic record on the person; and the ability to predict emotional reactions like a weather man. This also includes being able to read the energies of places and things.

Psychometry – this one is paired with the previous as it is reading the energies of places and things, which includes photographs and personal items.

Precognition – this is the Empaths ability to feel when something bad or important is about to happen. I usually experience this by knots in the pit of my stomache, feeling wads of cotton in my throat, and a huge weight on my chest, but under my ribs? It’s hard to explain how it feels, but it’s hard to breath and it can be scary. It’s basically a panic attack brought by strong energetic currents that ripple between time and space. That’s the best I can explain it.

Healing hands – this shows in only about half of empaths, again depending on their development. They can feel people’s physical symptoms in their own body. Now, when this is fine tuned and controlled, the Empath no longer needs to feel it in their own body. Pain and sickness have a very unique energy signature which is easy for the Empath to spot. In hand with this, Empaths can also tell a persons medical history by the energy they sense or see. This is the reason Empaths can make great masseuses, they can sense the pain or tense beneath their hands, like gliding your hand over a piece of glass and feeling bumps, needles, or gravel under your hand. From hear they know where that “energy” needs to go and how to get it there.

Telepathy – this is one of the least shown traits, as being bombarded with emotions and energies and feelings usually clouds other abilities from showing up. I’ve only experienced this a few times, involuntarily. I’ve been doing the exercises I found since I was about 11, which is when my empathy came through full force and put me in hell. If I can remember right, it usually occurs when I’m almost asleep and my brain is exhibiting “beta” waves. I think that’s what they call it. You’ll be able to tell if it’s your thoughts or not because when it happened to me, it wasn’t my voice. She said, “I think they have them at Petsmart.” Sounded clear as day and like there was someone next to me. This one I have not developed anything to further develop it, cause hell, we Empaths have enough to deal with already.

The next levels have more to do with the Empath’s environment. Empaths are manifestations of the emotional flight or fight response so they must always be aware of their environment. Our guards are always up, always watching people, watching the weather; everything to be aware of possible dangers, physical and spiritual.

Animal communication – Now this isn’t like movies where animals pipe up and start talking English. This is where a bit of telepathy, clairsentience, and claircognizance merge together. When speaking to the animal, it’s more than a “knowing” as modern pagans describe it. The Empath feels a rush of emotion, distinctly not human. With this rush comes feelings of the bodies that aren’t our species and an understanding of the animals character. Empaths will not kill an animal or living thing. It took me forever to be able to weed my garden without feeling guilt, by turning some “stations” off to not receive those signals.

Florapathy – as I call it, is the ability to read and communicate with plants, which is far different than speaking with animals. I speak to the herbs that I grow. The signals I get aren’t rushes of energies; more like spikes that rise and fall on charts. The energies I receive when doing so tell me the mood of the plant and what it needs right now i.e water, less sun, etc. This can also include being able to share the memory of a plant. Science now knows they are capable of memory with a “consciousness” that we can perfectly define yet. When my plants’ leaves start dying, I check in to see how much energy they are trying to give to that leaf. If they are putting a lot of energy into the dying leaves to try and fix them, there’s not a lot of energy going in order to help the plant bloom and mature. When finely tuned, the communication is a bit more personal and unlike an energy radio station; this is when the priority “gender” of the plant is determined and you can speak with the actual spirit of the plant rather than just the physical and emotional byways of the organism.

Geomancy – this is the ability to read the land. This also includes feeling ley lines, underground springs, etc. Empaths also get extremely unhinged before natural disasters.

Along with these levels, the Empath’s physical senses are also very sensitive. They read body language and facial expressions like reading a book and can hear and comprehend emotions that spill from another’s tongue like it’s a song they’ve been listening over and over for years. This is why you can’t lie to an Empath. I mean you can, cause we won’t always call you out on it, but be wary.

The main issue with Empaths is we are basically a break in worlds. We are points were the spiritual and physical realms gravitate and meet. Empaths are constantly acting as a storage for energies. Because of this Empaths are get sick very easily and always have a childhood filled with sickness. My first birthday I had a double earache. When I was 8 I had the flu, pneumonia, a cold, and more earaches all in one summer. I’ve had pneumonia and bronchitis more times than I can count. For this reason, we must constantly guard and ground, sometimes every hour.

Empaths receive energy constantly, but with training we can preform the purpose of these gifts: send energy. We can receive the emotions of another, and project emotions as well. This is why Empaths make such great healers. We receive knowledge of pain because we can do something about it. Doing this, we become true alchemist of energy and emotions. We can turn pain into comfort, stress into peace, etc.

From birth, Empaths are constantly conscious of others. While we may not understand the nature of what we do, we move our energy (tendrils, as I call them) around the energy fields of other people. We usually do so instinctively and unconsciously in order to understand what is around us, make sure we are safe, see all sides of an event, etc. Those who are not trained past just feeling and grounding are nothing but sponges for energies; we often don’t know where we stop and another person begins. While this is great is relationships sometimes, it’s absolute hell in a grocery store or mall. You’re basically carrying the whole damn town around with you when doing errands. Most can’t be in public for more than an hour, if that much. But with control, the Empath can learn to deflect and redirect energies, can consciously choose to open up to only one person at a time, and know when they can safely let their guard down.

While most Empaths exhibit these behaviors, some don’t at all. I mean at all. These are people who basically seem numb to everything, they barely show facial expression, freely open up, and have a high tolerance for pain. This is the Disassociated Empath. Instead of feeling, they don’t. Instead of receiving or projecting, their emotional and spiritual systems are literally shut down or clogged. Most of the time, this results from some traumatic experience that was too hard on the empathic nature so it “left”. To this day, I have not found how to reverse this.

The following will be the end of this post, but hopefully the exercises to come will assist you in developing your natures and will hopefully help in cleaning up this mess of a world some. I’m not going to include “traits” of an Empath as those are exhibited by almost every human being. If you’re a true Empath then you’ve dealt with the same shit I have. You’ll know.

Exercises for the troubled and developing Empath 


This is the most essential technique every person should learn, especially the Empath. Every fathers energy as they go about life. Empaths collect 5x the amount of energy other people do. Remember, we are a brink in the gravity between realms, so we’re basically sitting in the middle of the energetic drain, catching a bunch of stuff that doesn’t go down.

Close your eyes and, with your physical senses, feel the earth beneath you. Geomancy is used here to feel the earth. Go as deep into the earth as you can, feeling the worms and stones beneath your feet. Now extend the energy of your body down, originating from the tips of your toes. These are your “roots”. I also push energy from the dole of my feet down to become a tap root of sorts. When your roots are deep enough, name there purpose to drain any energy that isn’t your own so you’re not holding onto it. You’ll see the color of enenrgy that leaves. This will be the color of foreign energy for you. Do this every morning and night. Some will need to do this on a hourly basis.


This is the next technique I found to be helpful to my empathy. Close your eyes and imagine a shield of white energy around you. See the texture of this shield. Energy isn’t static so you’ll see the energy swirling and turning. Focus on this shield for as long as you can, filling it with enough energy to last. Name it’s purpose: to only allow healthy energy from the environment in and to burn off all foreign energy. Do this until your able to handle positive energy from others safely. Snap your fingers three times to “seal the deal”. This will need to be done through the day as you feel it wear off. And you’ll know; my mood changes, I get sluggish, etc. Its like being hit with a drug you’re trying to abstain from.


Aura of the Empath is probably the hardest place to get energies that don’t need to be there out. It’s like digging around for something in a gallon jar of honey. Tears can be made in the aura by traumatic experiences, drug and alcohol use, and bad physical health choices. These holes need repairing by applying continuous flows of energy to the place until it “settles” or “catches” into the pull of your aura. There are different levels which I won’t speak of here but people say there’s generally 5-7 layers. But that doesn’t matter to the Empath; what matters is we get most or all of the junk out.

Hold your hand out from you, palms facing you. Slowing being your palms inward. Stop when you feel a tingling or “push” on your palm. This denotes when you’ve hit one of the layers. Gently push through and allow your hands to go where they need to, acting as a magnet in collecting all the negative energy that didn’t go during the grounding process. When you feel that you’ve gotten as much as you could by yourself, slowly run your hands in cold water to wash the energies off. Some also like to jab their hands down into the dirt to ground the energies out and then wash their hands with only water. Next, you will need to wipe the “dust” off your aura by feeling for the first layer as before and gently wiping the energy field of anything clinging to it. End the same way: dirt or water, or both.


Regular meditation practices are essential in balancing the nature of the Empath. Chakra exercises are great here as well.

Turning it down

Imagine your empathy as an energetic radio. The volume is the brightness of your outer energy field which draws other energies to you. Inside you, see a dial in the core of your chest. Turn this dial in order to dim the lights and turn the volume down, therefore turning your sensitivity down with it. You’ll gain better control with practice. When you do this, notice your current feelings for the next hour and see if they are your own or someone else’s. Turn it up and notice the changes. This will lead you to distinguishing your own energy and that of others.


I like this one best, as I use it when in public. It’s the same as shielding, except it’s the shield is named in order to push all foreign energies away once they get so close (about 5 feet). Basically, as you walk in public, you’ll be walking in a bubble that seems to be in a swamp of energy, just pushing everything out of the way as you go. Which is why I call this “Nope”. Not today.


Water is the biggest ally of the Empath, with stone coming second. When the Empath is hyper-sensitive, getting into a hot bath will ground you back into your physical senses and balance out your energies, even the foreign ones, so they are easier to handle. Empaths are sensitive to energy like skin is to fire: water soothes the burns and cools you down. Energy is vibration, and with enough it becomes heat. Water cools down the energies by slowing there vibrations, therefore slowing down the process and their impact on the Empath’s system.

Get to know you

Empaths are constantly connecting with things and people, so much so, they loose light of themselves. Practice techniques of feeling the way your feet and hands curl, feeling your chest rise and fall with breath, feel the pain you experience when stepping on hot concrete. Ground yourself into you. This will help in feeling the pain of others, so you do not become fully enmeshed into there systems. With practice, this will give you the control over your own senses to “step out” when you choose and how far you wish to go.


Sit alone somewhere and simply become aware of your surroundings, physically and energetically. Feel the people outside, in other places in the house, the trees outside, etc. This will grow the Empathic consciousness so you are more aware of the things impacting you, the energies in your environment, the safety of the place, etc. This will also highten the other gifts naturally, such as geomancy, mediumship, etc. After years of practice, these exercises will become second nature. You’ll have to actually turn up you sensitivity and awareness in order to use your empathy.
You now have what you need to finally get your shit, and the shit of others, together. You’re not crazy; just blessedly fucked. Take care of yourself, know yourself, and be safe.

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Author: Jake Richards

Jake (Dr. Henny) follows family practice as a Yarb Doctor and Conjure man in the Appalachian Folk Magic tradition. He follows the legacy of his mother (a seventh daughter), that left behind by his grandfather, a baptist preacher who was a blood stopper, wort doctor, and thrush doctor; his grandmother, who was a knowledgeable woman in these works before Alzheimer’s set in; his great, great grandfather who witched for water in Washington County and his great grandmother who taught and worked from her roost at the foot of Devil’s Nest Mountain. Jake is the author of Backwoods Witchcraft: Conjure & Folk Magic from Appalachia, available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound. When he's not writing, blogging, reading the bones or trying for clients: he is either traveling, gardening, sewing, book binding, reading, or sculpting. For questions, readings, recommendations for future posts, interviews and the like, you are welcome to email him below: Littlechicagoconjure@yahoo.com

One thought on “When a Little is Too Much: Exercises for the Troubled Empath”

  1. This was greatly needed. Thank you for sharing your experiences and techniques to deal with this “gift”. Blessings on you and your family.


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