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What Is An Empath?

Lesson created by Shari Dunn using

Video from LunarWisdom YouTube Channel

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This is a question more and more people are asking, what is an empath? In basic terms it's a self described "highly sensitive person." Empaths are people who for whatever reason are extremely sensitive to the energy of other people, things and animals. So much so that they can actually feel their way into other people. Neuroscience has a possible answer in mirror cell theory, but there is more.

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We live in a world that values the thinking over the feeling yet for most of human history those who were highly attuned to the feeling senses were revered as "seers" and shamans. Understanding and bringing forth the nature of empaths will have a profound impact on how we relate to each other worldwide. Ironically, this concept of certain people possessing a heighten sensitivity is not a foreign or strange concept in much of the world but in Western culture there is very little value placed on simply "knowing" because it is not seen as empirical, rational or scientific. Specifically empaths or highly sensitive people are not performing magic rather they are born with or circumstances have caused them to become sensitive to the smallest most imperceptible changes in other people, the environment, animals and their surroundings.  So attune that they can actually feel, truly feel what others are feeling. They can through observation so minute pick up on the lies people tell even to themselves. Some empaths are connected to nature, some are connected to animals and some can dream in a way that allows them access to information yet to be revealed. Of course there is precedent for the concept of people being "differently wired" we see it with autism spectrum we see it with aspergers but empaths are different in that they may simply be still be very much connected  to  a way of knowing that our ancestors took for granted but that the modern world has left behind. So the question you might have is how does being an empath differ from simply having strong intuition or being “just a sensitive” person. Most of those who identify as empaths will tell you it’s intuition and sensitivity on “steroids” it is not a flashing insight per se as intuition can be, rather it is a constant state of knowing and sensitivity that many empaths have felt since childhood. It can also be overwhelming because empaths are like emotional sponges soaking in the feelings and emotions of others they are around.  But the empaths way can also be a source of great healing, enlightenment and understanding. By identifying and reclaiming this knowledge there will be lessons for the world at large. Understanding how we all can live in deeper connection to our empathic selves can be learned from these people. If one is considering genocide one must see the other as different not fundamentally "like me". Racism and discrimination in all its forms also requires a deep lack of empathetic understanding, bullying, animal cruelty and violence against women and girls all depend on being disconnected from ones empathetic nature to thrive. Although the concept is ancient the term empath first came to be used in the science fiction drama Star Trek and if you look at linguist sources, the dictionary  and Wikipiedia empaths apparently don't really exist.  But there is support for the strange powers of an empath  coming from both science and those who have this trait. "Giacomo Rizzolatti told the New York Times. "By feeling, not by thinking." The mirror cell theory suddenly explained a mysterious aspect of shared emotion. We don't just interpret what other people experience or feel; we simulate it inside us, sometimes with incredible exactitude. The discovery of mirror cells would take a few years to draw attention, but when it did, it was labeled one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of our time. It is now changing the way people look at emotion, connection, love and civilization. Mirror cells are the foundation of empathy, goes the theory, and empathy is the foundation of civilization." In fact, psychologist V.S. Ramachandran, PhD, has called the discovery of mirror neurons one of the "single most important unpublicized stories of the decade."(1) The theory then would be that "empaths" have an abundance of these mirror cells, allowing them to take empathy to an entirely different level. A level that mystics have called psychic, precognitive, and magical. But what if the true nature of an empath is a blend of science and the metaphysicial?
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Shari Dunn
Lesson Creator
Milwaukee, WI, United States

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