I recently watched a television programme where the discussion was about overcoming pre-performance nerves. One of the presenters was talking about how she had learnt to deal with her debilitating stage-fright: She explained that a wise mentor had given her the advice to change her emotions. He had told her: when she felt fear and nervousness prior to a performance, to focus her mind and change her nervousness into excitement. To her amazement, she found the technique worked and although she still suffered from the jitters before a stage entrance she knew she could turn those emotions into enthusiasm, with the intentional direction of her mind.
The programme got me thinking of how easy (or not) it is to change our emotions from negative to positive and although I understand that we have a choice as to how we interpret our emotions, I really don’t believe it’s that cut and dry. There are so many other factors to consider, none more so than the stimuli that triggered the emotion and our state of mind.
The mind is an incredibly powerful tool. The unfortunate thing is it generally runs rings around most and the majority of us do not know how to control it.
Many illnesses start in the mind in the shape of stress/fear/anger etc. and the mind has the power to heal those ailments, in some cases in, an instant. We’ve seen evidence of this in the placebo effect. For example: when testing the effectiveness of new pharmaceutical drugs, test subjects are normally divided into two groups. One group will be given the real drug, being tested, and others will be given a fake (placebo). There have been many cases where those given the placebo have healed from their ailments, because their mind believed they were given the drug. There have also been cases where groups of volunteers have been given operations, for things such as knee or hip injuries, some of the subjects were given bona fide operations and some were given dummy ops (where the volunteer was anaesthetised but only an incision was made and nothing more, giving the patient the belief that they had had the procedure). Some of the the volunteers who’d had the dummy op (placebo), healed from their injury, just because they believed they had had the intended medical procedure. The placebo effect is a simple case of just how powerful the mind is, in that it was the mind’s belief that healed the body.
We all know the mind is capable of creating emotional turmoil, especially when the thoughts have gone into overdrive. We can speed up the heart rate just by envisaging a scary scenario or we can make ourselves angry by imagining an injustice against us. The more innovative the mind the more possibilities there are. One can only imagine what damage could be done within the body by those who have creative imaginations. Guess who have amazingly creative imaginations…? Yup, Empaths.
Empaths can sit for hours, happily staring into space with just their thoughts for company and entertainment, and whilst this is a lovely past time when the thoughts are happy and positive, it is not so much when they are dark or brooding. Happy thoughts uplift, inspire, balance and nourish the body and mind. The opposite is true for turbulently-vexed thoughts. They impact the body in the form of painful and angry emotions that burn within one’s solar plexus (mid stomach area) and it becomes a vicious cycle: thoughts feeding emotions and emotions feeding thoughts.
When Empaths feel the emotions of those around them, they can turn into their thoughts without them even realizing it and before they know what’s hit them, the Empath can be caught up in a tornado of torrid, angry thoughts that didn’t stem from their own circumstances.
It has to be noted that when in public, Empaths won’t always know where or from whom the emotions come from, because not everyone shows on the surface what is going on within and not everyone carries pain.
When I was younger and worked as a hairdresser, I spent my days surrounded by people of all ages, and all of whom I worked very closely with. In the time before I knew anything about being an Empath, I could never understand why I felt so uncomfortable around certain people. But what used to baffle me the most was why I felt most uncomfortable around those who came across as being really sweet and lovely. But when I was around those who were first-class grumps or those who may have been direct, rude or obnoxious, I never used to feel very much, well, other than the obvious, surface, negativity. I now know that those sweet and lovely people, who I felt uncomfortable with, were sensitive beings who held a lot of emotional pain within them and this is what I was picking up. Those who were grumpy or obnoxious didn’t hold much pain within them; it was all on the surface level and not hidden away.
The mind has its own way of interpreting energy. Sometimes it will make it into a story and sometimes it will make one feel physically ill or drained. Our programmes will normally determine how we read energy and when I say programmes, I mean our lineage and history. One may be very different from our grandparents, parents and siblings but we are made from the same stuff as them, so there is a strong likelihood that what was carried within them, will be carried within us. We inherit more than just our physical appearance. Our history is made up from the events that happened to us through our lives, good and bad. The factors between our lineage and history can greatly determine how we operate within the world and how our personal programmes come into being. If one finds negative emotions continuously arising in certain situations, it could be time to get re-programmed and this means taking control of the mind and changing the mindset. If this is something you are looking for then my recommendation is in the practice of yoga.
In my quest to quieten the mind and heal my body over the years, I have tried many different things, but the one constant, and something I have always come back to, is yoga and the many branches thereof. It is only now, after years of study and practice, that I have a greater insight into the roots of yoga and an understanding as to why it is and has been such a help to me as a Sensitive.
Sadly, in much of the Western World, the focus of yoga (and in facts most forms of exercise) has had a strong emphasis on the effect it has on the physical appearance, or getting the body into ‘pretzel-shaped’, advanced postures (that most western bodies are not designed for). But yoga goes so much deeper than that.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and originated in India. For all the many benefits yoga has to offer the body, it was primarily designed to still the mind. It is only when we have a quiet mind that we can truly find peace. The ancient yogis knew that to have a quiet mind you could not have a body in pain so the yoga poses (asana) were designed to strengthen, heal and soothe the body of ailments and in turn, make it so one could sit comfortably, for hours on end, in deep meditation. The poses were also created as a challenge for the mind, for when the mind is focused on overcoming an obstacle it can not be filled with riotous thoughts.
Within yoga we are also trained to control the breath, either through dynamic yoga (flowing in and out of postures) or through pranayama (regulation of breath though certain techniques and exercises). It is through control of the breath that we control the mind. I have done yoga for nearly 20 years and it is only relatively recently that I have been making a conscious effort to regularly practice the breathing techniques (I used to dip in and out). Not only can the different breathing techniques be energising and uplifting, but they are also calming, relaxing and rejuvenating. Another huge benefit I have found from practising pranyama is that certain techniques can alleviate and even remove negative, incoming emotions from others. It is just a case of finding the correct pranayama technique for the specific problem.
I have written about yoga and the breathing systems before and will, no doubt, again, but in these challenging times we find ourselves in, I see them as an essential part of an Empaths protection.
Below is a list of breathing exercises and links to demonstrations on Youtube. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor when practising, you can sit in a normal chair as long as your back is straight.
Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).
This technique quietens the mind and blisses you out. It is great to do before bedtime especially if you’ve got a wired, monkey mind. It also balances the masculine and feminine energies within the body.
Kapalbhati (bellows breath).
This is an all round brilliant, breathing technique, it also works out and strengthen the core stomach muscles. It is beneficial to do in the morning as it is energising (to be done on an empty stomach), or when one needs a quick energy boost. It is fabulous to do if you are feeling a lot of emotion around the solar plexus area, which it quickly eliminates. After performing this breathing technique, you are left with a quiet, yet energised, mind.
Ujayi (victorious breath)
This is commonly used within yogic asana practise to create heat within the body, keep the mind focused and help eliminate toxins. It really helps quieten the mind as it is kept focused on the breath. I have recently found this one great to do when in places such as supermarkets, where there’s lots of people and a rush of emotions swirling round. It helps block out the incoming, keeps you centred and it is doubly effective if you lightly contract the stomach muscles.
Dynamic Asana Practice.
This is yoga asana, but instead of holding poses static for a certain length of time, you move in and out with the breath. Again brilliant for quietening the mind but also great for alleviating tension in the body as well as creating strength and flexibility. (I have not attached a link to this as it’s probably best to first practise under a qualified instructor).
To reap maximum benefits you should try to practise pranayama everyday, if only for 5 minutes. It is best to practice in a quiet, comfortable and warm place. However, the breathing techniques can be taken out with you, Ujayi is best for this. You can do them whilst sitting in a traffic jam, whilst walking in a shopping centre or anywhere else where and when needed.
All yogic breathing systems should be approached gradually. When first attempted they can make you dizzy or sometimes anxious, with persistence these will pass so don’t be put off.