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Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light
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Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords
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The Gray of 'Tween
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A Child's First Yule
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What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
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The Shadow of Disgust
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The Fear of Witchcraft
Magic in Sentences
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Revisiting The Spiral
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Coming Out of the Broom Closet
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Magia y Wicca
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Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
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Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
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Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
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Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
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Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
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On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
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Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
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October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
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The Pagan Cleric
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To Know, to Will, to Dare...
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Energy Breathing and Empathic Shielding; A Practical Method
Article ID: 10538
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,847
Times Read: 7,679
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Author: Cael SpiritHawk
Posted: March 19th. 2006
Times Viewed: 7,679
After I posted an essay on the subject of the ethical use of empathy, I received a number of e-mails in response to it. One of them in particular stood out, though: the sender asked me for help in blocking out other people's thoughts and emotions. I've been an empath for a long time, and I was taught early how to block it, so shielding out these unwanted thoughts has become second nature. But the message I received reminded me that there was at least one empath out there who had trouble doing it. And if there is one, it's probable that there are others.
When I am teaching shielding, I prefer to sit down in person, because while shielding out empathy (or anything, really) is not all that difficult in concept, it's not something that lends itself well to writing down. If it's written, it must be read, which means opening your eyes and concentrating on the words, whereas if it's spoken, you can meditate and just listen to the words with your detached mind. Still, I've written down what has been working for me, in the hope that it will be of some help to other empaths. If you decide to try this, I suggest reading through it enough times to become familiar with the technique, so that you don't have to refer back to it when you're actually doing it for the first time.
First, a bit of theoretical background:
The human mind works best by analogy. Neuroscience has shown that complex subjects are abstracted down to simpler ones in the mind, and then grouped together by similarity. Have you ever told someone a joke or a witty comment, and then been unable to remember whether you originally heard the joke in person, or heard it in a TV show, or read it somewhere? That's because when we hear or read words, the concepts of the words themselves, and not the actual sounds or sights that we experienced, are what get stored in our minds. Because our minds filter out the specifics of how information is acquired, often the best way to teach an unfamiliar concept is to relate it to a similar, more well-known concept.
Something that people do every day is breathe. When we breathe in, we take into ourselves an invisible fluid that is necessary to life. When we breathe out, we release back to the world the part of that fluid that we don‘t need. Most of the time, we aren‘t even aware of our breathing, because it‘s so intrinsic to the way our bodies work. What we often don‘t realize is that there‘s another fluid, necessary to life, that we‘re taking into ourselves and releasing, in the same way, and at the same time, as we breathe. That "substance", for want of a better term, is the life-energy that surrounds us.
Ask yourself this: Why do people (all people, not just people who believe what we do) take a deep breath before beginning a difficult task or taking a big risk? It‘s not just for the oxygen; our minds instinctively draw energy in, in order to prepare for stress. People who are aware of their chakras can often feel them pulsing in time with their breathing; that‘s the energy flowing in as we breathe in, and then leaving when we breathe out. Why do people release a huge sigh of relief when a big task is done or when a risky situation is over? For the analogous reason; they‘re releasing energy that they‘d gathered to themselves, because they no longer need it.
The fact that we take in energy and air together, and then release them both simultaneously as we breathe is because of the same reason that when we blink, we generally blink both eyes at once. That reason is: because usually there‘s no good reason to do otherwise, so two basically identical tasks are accomplished using the same reflex. But just as it‘s possible to consciously close one eye while leaving the other open, it‘s also possible to separate the respiration of energy from that of air. When we do this, we can make that energy available for our own consciously-directed use, and one of the particularly handy things that one can do is use it to build a wall, or shield, around the mind, to keep out stray thoughts and emotions that come from other people.
Next, a practical lesson:
To begin, find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed for a time. If you have a place that you meditate, that would be a good place. Get comfortable, and do whatever it is that you do to calm yourself down. Sit with good posture, and allow your breathing to become deep and rhythmic. As you breathe, feel the energy flowing into and out of your body, as well as the air. Do not try to clear your mind, because in so doing, you'll be forcing yourself into a mental state; it's impossible to try not to think, because the trying itself implies thought.
As thoughts enter your mind, allow them to speak to you, so that they can go on their way. Do not try to think of anything in particular, and do not try to think of nothing. Simply be. Allow your breathing, and the flow of energy, to become the only thing you are aware of.
Once you are relaxed, make a conscious effort to separate your respiration processes; as you breathe in, allow the energy to flow in, but as you breathe out, hold that energy inside you, in your core. If you have a dominant chakra, you might be able to feel it filling with the energy you‘re gathering. Breathe this way a few more times, until you feel that you‘ve gathered a nice reservoir of energy into your core.
Next, you‘re going to use this energy to build a barrier around you. Some people visualize building a fence or wall, as if they were casting a Circle. I find that this mental image is not the best one, because if you have something bad inside the circle that you draw, what you‘ve done is seal it in there with you, giving it no place to go. The method that I have found works the best for me is this:
As you breathe out, visualize that energy expanding from your center in a shell, until it is large enough to surround your whole body. Let it stop there, and remain. Breathe in again, and feel more energy fill you. Breathe out, and let another shell expand from your center to join the first. Do this as many times as feels right to you. Because the shells expanded from your core, they have pushed anything bad that‘s nearby away from you. The space inside is yours, and yours alone.
The energy you have formed around you is your shield. It exists as a construct of your focused will. It is not a physical barrier. You (and others) probably won't be able to see it with your eyes, but you (as its owner) and potentially others will probably be able to feel its presence. It responds to your will because it is your will; in visualizing the expanding energy shells, you have told your mind, "I wish a barrier around me, that looks like this." And because empathy is a thing of the mind, if you tell your mind that the shield you have built will keep out stray thoughts and emotions from others, then it will.
Practice this technique, if it is one that seems right to you, and once you have built your shield-shell, go out among people, and feel secure inside the barrier you've built. Feel yourself isolated from their thoughts and emotions, and alone with your own. When you are finished, you can release the shield entirely (simply by releasing it from your will) , or cause it to become thinner, but still remain. In this way, you can protect yourself from all of the random quiet mutterings of the emotions and thoughts around you, while still being receptive to a strong projected emotion.
Once you've gotten used to doing this, you won't need the meditation time and all of that; once the pathways of how are formed in your mind, all you will need to do is take a breath in (and with it, the energy) , and then release it, letting the shell expand out to form around you. I think it will help. I would love to hear about anyone‘s experiences with this technique; it‘s one that has worked for me for several years.
Location: Manassas, Virginia
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