Notes For The Highly Sensitive Empath

The test of a first-rate intelligence,” said writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, “is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

Those on the path of self-inquiry often grapple with reconciling concepts of nonduality(‘not-two’/advaita) with the experience of individuality. Study of various religious and philosophical texts, personal inquiry and the rare experience point to the former. But mostly, for the majority, there can be no denying our sense of individuality: Identified with our mind-body, we see ourselves as unique and different – separate from Source/God (if we believe in one), as well as from others.

Balanced, harmonious living is experienced when we remain aware of both: that while in essence there is the same, One Source – in manifestation, there are distinct forms.

For highly sensitive empaths, achieving this balance poses peculiar challenges. 
However, before expanding on those, I would like to clarify the intended audience for this post:

I hold labels lightly, and not as rigid definitions.  To clarify, this post is not for those who tend to empathize with others in the more common ways of say, feeling sad on hearing a friend’s troubles, or resonating with the outrage of a protesting crowd. Reflecting others’ feelings is natural to most.

This article is only for those who almost seem to be ‘wired’ differently.
Research has already shown that brains of HSPs are markedly different from others. There is a different sensitivity associated with activation of brain regions involved in awareness, integration of sensory information, empathy, and action planning.
The mind-body type I refer to has an unusually high sensitivity to surroundings and picks up far more information and emotion than most intuitives or Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP).  They experience an additional influx that is not limited to those physically present before them. Often, they sense, ‘see’, or ‘hear’ what is happening with other people, animals, trees, or even geographical spaces(see earth sensitives) across distances.  Unlike other empathetic responses, these cannot be explained by the theory of mirror neurons, nor by a placebo-like consequence of belief systems.

(A request: If this reminds you of someone you know, please share this article with them.)

In all probability, the intended audience of this piece would have undergone conflicting spells of loving this gift and hating its consequences; Shifted between feeling blessed, special and powerful, to feeling marked, flawed and helpless. While it is advantageous in accessing deep spiritual experiences, it also leads to some complex, tiring and confused personal equations.

Instead of seeing this extraordinary degree of empathy either as a sought-after occult power, or a desperately fought with curse, the sensible place one can arrive at is to treat it matter-of-factly:  

We are simply built differently.
Like various physical, emotional and intelligence attributes, this is just another configuration in manifestation. It makes us neither superior nor inferior.

What it does seem to do, however, is by default, have us lean towards ‘oneness’ without respecting ‘individuation’ appropriately enough.

To say this creates boundary issues would be an understatement.
Most memes (being targetted at those who’s default perception tends to come from the strongly individual perspective) encourage a movement towards dissolving barriers, expansion, and inclusivism. Cognizant of the difference in our make-up, we need to remember that such sage advice addressed to the majority may possibly be detrimental if not counter-productive for us. 

We too, need to find our middle path. But ours will be found by honoring the uniqueness and boundaries that come with individuality. Hence, what we need to learn is appropriate distancing, containing/contracting our awareness to our own personal space and focusing on our ‘self’.

Tools For Empaths offered specific tips on dealing with information and energy overload. Here, I share notes around the challenges that result from having the unique make-up of a highly sensitive empath(details below):


  1. Stop Blaming Yourself:

    The oversensitivity, awareness, and information that you have available to you can often make things uncomfortable, inconvenient and sometimes downright annoying for yourself as well as others.  It can make you feel like an alien, a misfit and sometimes the target of unwanted attention, bullying or blame. It is not your fault. This is just the way you were built.

  2. Stop Blaming Others:

    While you may feel you are at the ‘receiving end’ of things, remember that the one you may be holding responsible is unaware of their impact on you. They are not deliberately sending stuff your way.  It’s not their fault either.

    If you feel they should be more aware, or doing more clearing work – so that you also feel better – understand that their tolerance for pain and pace of inner work will be different from yours.

  3. Let Go Of Fear and Defiance:

    When you walk around feeling guilty for the very way that you are – one tends to become either wary and submissive, or a polarized defiant. Use tools like EFT to help clear such emotions. Fighting innate qualities of this mind-body form are not going to help. Extend the same allowance and acceptance to yourself that you would extend to anyone else having a different ability/challenge from yours and find a neutral footing.

  4. Be Discerning In What You Reveal:

    Because you see something so clearly, you may forget that others may be totally oblivious to it. So calling out the underlying dynamics, energies or patterns that seem real, tangible and obvious to you can often lead to trouble and argument. The other may not even want to know more than what is apparent to them at the moment. Your inputs may be invited and appreciated at times, and intrusive and disturbing at others. Be alert to that variability.

  5. Remember, You Aren’t Always Right :

    An extraordinary track record of finding yourself to be proven right can make us neglect the occasions we got it wrong.  Like everyone else, our beliefs and state of being can cloud our seeing and judgment.

  6. You Cannot See It All:

    We can all look at the same diamond and see different facets.
    Others have a different sensing, experience and knowledge informing them and we need to respect that.  Besides, there are plenty of mysteries out there which not even the most knowledgeable or intuitive can explain.
    We need to remember that we can’t know what we don’t know.

  7. Don’t Dominate:

    You tend to feel the undercurrents more deeply than others.  This creates its own intensity and urgency, especially when you see scope for preventing something adverse.  All this can lead to unintended aggression and argument.
    Be careful that you are not imposing upon others.

  8. Be Discrete:

    Sharing our sensing/intuition/insights about a person/situation with a third party can be as careless as unwarranted gossip.

    Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.” ~ Bernard Meltzer.

  9. Share Merits Of Your Inner Work And Healing Knowledge:

    Because of the acuteness with which they feel, empaths gravitate towards inner work.  Emotional clearing and clarity in thinking are their necessity more than an option.
    So apply that learning to any  energetic stuff coming your way as well. This is the time to acknowledge the Oneness and to consider whatever ‘it’ is to be an aspect of your own self and transform it as one would for self.  
    This way, you won’t blame them(it’s not their deliberate choice that you are picking up their unresolved stuff!).  Neither will you expect their co-operation, nor thanks, while yet contributing in the way you know to have worked  best for yourself.

  10. Respect Boundaries:

    Byron Katie’s wisdom is critically important to us: “I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s. Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our business.”

    Despite our porous boundaries, we need to stay in our own business – as much as one possibly can.

    To that end, one also has to be mindful of our own limits. We have to learn to be able to say no, be unavailable, and be willing to disappoint others – recognizing that we need our own boundaries as well. (Empaths and narcissists often find each other because of the empath’s poor ability to maintain boundaries and the inadvertent importance given to the narcissist’s business.)

  11. Respect Your Body:

    Because inputs seem to be received from beyond the five senses, the body itself may not be given its due importance.  Also, an over-emphasis on concepts of non-duality  rather than its actual experience can lead to disregarding the health of the body.
    Give the body its due care and attention.

  12. Include Yourself In The Equation:

    Self-neglect is more likely in empaths than self-centeredness.
    The healthy relationships are those which take all concerned into consideration. Remember to start with yourself.  Otherwise, you will end up feeling exhausted and resentful.

  13. Do Not Expect Others To Treat You The Way You Treat Them:

    Half the time, we don’t even realize we have any such expectations. They are usually discovered in hindsight through feelings of disappointment.  Till then, we just assume that everyone functions in the same way.

    But the inputs that they receive, their perceptions and priorities are significantly different from yours. When they don’t respond with the same involvement as you, it is not personal. They are made differently.  

  14. Spend Time Alone:

    They say we are an average of the five people we spend the most time with.  To add to this, when you are easily influenced by other energies it is easy to become disoriented, uncertain and confused as one can forget one’s own restful state.
    Know your personal space well.

  15. Engage Mindfully:

    Proximity and intimacy, whether emotional or physical, can create entanglements that are exponentially difficult to extract yourself from.
    This does not mean that you become a recluse: Simply interact with awareness and discernment.

  16. Do Not Cling To A ‘self’ Definition:

    In trying to discern our comfort zone and place others outside our field, we can end up habitually proving a fixed idea of our self.  No-one is one thing all the time.
    In the attempt to find a sensible way to navigate the world of duality, do not get so entangled with individual forms that you forget who you are in essence.

The above learnings came the slow, hard way, through years of struggle, introspection, and observation. Now, aware of all this, I feel that this way of being leads to a well-lived, intensely-felt life that can help keep one on the conscious path.

If any of this helps your journey, I would be glad.
Do let me know if it does! 2016-08-28 14-35-30

Related Articles:

Tools For Empaths

Are You An Earth Sensitive And Why You Need To Know

Material Wealth, Abundance, And Spirituality


What Does Surrender Mean To You?


When faced with a trying situation, ‘surrender’ is a common enough piece of spiritual advise that we give to ourselves or others. However, unless we have clarity on what this means to us, there is a danger of it being reduced to a meaningless cliche or a means of running from that which is inviting our growth.  It can become a means to escape responsibility, embracing victimhood instead. 

While we may subscribe to a theory, the true test of it is to see how it plays out in our experience.  My current understanding of surrender (as described below) has arisen from an iterative process. I routinely go back to my concepts and factor in what life has taught me and allow  newer clarity to emerge for myself.

To begin with, I am clear that surrender is not the same as resignation. It does not carry tones of helplessness, victimhood, exhaustion or dead-ends.  Nor does it assume that life is against me, ‘unfair’, or that in summary, I simply have to be miserable with an unhappy lot dealt out to me. 

Instead, surrender acknowledges:

  • I do not know everything. This mind-body operates as best as it can from the narrow cognizance, experience and perception it has.
  • I cannot know what I don’t know. 
  • Even what I think I know, I cannot be certain of: Most of what I think ‘I know’ is based on unquestioned thoughts, assumptions and limited experience.  We take so many things for granted that we do not even realise that they are only our points of view and not unshakeable guarantees of truth.  Scrutinising our beliefs provide eye-openers on a regular basis.  Consequently, what I think of as the best possible outcome is not necessarily correct.
  • There is a way to make the old adage of ‘Whatever happens is for the best’, true for ourselves. Things take on the meaning we give them. So while we may not have control over the ‘ten thousand things’ that appear in our world, we are always free to decide our response.  Consciously choose a narrative that is empowering and liberating.  (And make no mistake about this – it is a story that we build to string together happenings in a way that make some sense to us.  The same set of happenings may tell an entirely different story to someone else.)
  • This too shall pass:  Nothing is permanent and whatever it is now, whether I see it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it will eventually change. It is my own resistance to things that deepens my suffering.

It is also helpful to remember:

  • Who we truly are, remains untouched through this all.  As ACIM reminds, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
  • The mind-body(mine or any ‘other’ that I am concerned for) has its limitations.  Therefore, it will experience pleasure and pain. That is the nature of things and to argue with that is futile.  But if we are able to see ourselves as the screen, rather than identifying with the movie characters, their adventures become just that – temporary adventures.
  • In the world of duality, there will always be pros and cons to everything. Its okay to make mistakes, face painful consequences or not find the ‘perfect’ solution. Who we become through the process is usually far more important than what we get. By insisting we ‘must be happy all the time‘, we prolong our unhappiness.
  • Indecision is itself is a choice. You cannot avoid taking a stance.  Even when we choose to procrastinate – avoid decisions or implementing action  – in all cases, we are making a choice. There is no real way to avoid the inconvenient responsibility of it’s consequences.

Given the above, it becomes easier to see that Surrender does not imply disowning personal responsibility or avoiding choice.  Practically speaking, the best way to go about it seems:

    1. To go as quiet as one can, so that you are able to access your true nature and innate wisdom more clearly.  (Our habitual, unconscious, noisy mind-chatter normally drowns out this ever present, serene guidance.)
    2. To allow your self to receive clarity from this space, no matter how inconvenient or unappealing this insight be.
    3. Actioning this insight, with full willingness and openness to its consequences, without any blame, or guilt. (Please note that now, even if it is not doing anything at all, the choice no longer comes from fear and hence has a different effect.)
    4. Gracefully meeting whatever arises then, in flow and in sync with life and its unfolding.
    5. Using the learnings from this experience to inform and deepen your conscious dance with life.

Sunny-calm and turbulent weather are both a part of this life. The point is not to pretend or run away from the storms, but to sail through them. The less rigid we are, the smoother the journey becomes. It has taken a great deal of practice and mindfulness to arrive at this place for me.  But I have found that regular inner work, self-inquiry, clearings and meditation have helped create more balance and calm. It has helped me grow less and less attached to specific outcomes and brought in an increasing ease with whatever shows up. 

Perhaps some of this will help you articulate your own understanding of surrender and to move forward with ease. If you find this interesting food for thought, please share it on.  Many of us are struggling with navigating difficult situations right now and I would be happy if it were to be useful to someone.

(Google Image)

Poems: Heart Light


Below layers of anger
Feigned indifference,
Deeper, under bandages
That became thick walls,
Seemingly permanent skins

Remain grief, sorrow, hurt.
Wounds, some still bleeding.

But beyond that
Tremulously survives
Raw vulnerability
Rarely allowed, or seen

Not the fearful end of things:
Only a translucent cover,
Pure, sheer light
Successfully veiling.

Unwrap slowly
Layer after layer
Persistently, gently…

Until luminescence
At the heart
Of it all
Shines forth
From within

Poems: 108 Words


Welcoming all there is

The turbulence, the churning
The turning upside down
Inside out
Of what ‘I’ thought as ‘you’

Drawing it all
Into the One embrace
That finally dissolves
All ideas of two

That restful place
Where the highest crests
And the lowest troughs

The steady, quiet, potent space
rom which once again
A ‘you’ and ‘I’ emerge

These natural tides
They continue
To push and pull

The waves fall
To rise again

But once the continuum
Of formless grace
Is remembered

Nothing feels the same

Form, transience and movement
All but short lived shapes

Beyond the veil
Of all appearances

The unchangeable ocean
Simply Is.

The 11 Commandments Of The New-Age-Ego (In A Nutshell)

If there is anyone who can hold up a mirror and make you laugh at that which you may have so far been turning a blind eye to, it is my friends GD and Aalif Surti.  GD’s inimitable, witty way of pointing to profound wisdom (and difficult truths) is artfully captured by his articulate brother, Aalif, at his blog

Their latest offering,  “The 11 Commandments Of  The New-Age-Ego“, is a hard hitting, yet hilarious reminder of the traps we tend to fall into along the ‘spiritual path’.  To get full benefits of the image below,  I recommend reading the full post at

I am most grateful to have GD personally knock sense into me whenever either of us feel it is required.  However, I felt that a one page summary of these Commandments would serve as a great reminder on my wall.  So I created this image with GD’s permission.  You are welcome to use it as a screensaver or poster for yourself as well .

Thanks GD and Aalif!

(Please retain their blog link in the image.)

11 Commandments of the New-Age-Ego

Preparing For The New (Year)

Pillar of Peace Ho'oponopono

The freshness of the coming year is heralded well before its dawn.

Transitions are rarely cataclysmic, overnight changes like the celebration of a 31st night would have us believe. More often, there are gradual shifts towards a tipping point, followed by an adjustment period of recalibration to a newer way of being.

So for those of us who found 2014 to be an impactful year, the suggestion would be to take the last few days of this year to assimilate and consciously integrate your growth.  There would be habits and complaints to leave behind.  There would be dreams and fears that have now largely dissolved.  There would be relationships that have ended, or begun or changed in irrevocable ways.  There would be unexpressed grief, as also celebrations left incomplete.

Importantly, more loudly than ever before, this year you may have begun to notice the whisper of a voice that invites you to the possibility of a completely new way of being and living.

These are times of tremendous change in the world. And three factors will significantly influence how well we adapt, survive, or thrive from hereon:

  • Our ability to surrender the comfort that comes from familiarity will be a critical factor.  Just as we remain attached to security, nurturing and safety, the themes of apathy, passiveness, resignation, victimhood are also ways we grow accustomed to.  Whether these result in a harmonious experience or a disturbed state, they can be difficult to shake off.
  • We tend to look to the future through the filters of our experience.  Our unconscious habit of projecting and extrapolating the past into the future, the subtle but strong beliefs of any situation or relationship being unchangeable and the consequent limitations of our imagination, all come in the way of us being able to believe and honour that soft inner voice.
  • The extent to which we acknowledge and address our stress and triggers undoubtedly affects the quality of our experience.  Many of us are well aware of the changes that we need to make in not only our exercise, diet, lifestyle, etc… , but also where we need to question our thoughts, break our patterns, mature in our emotional responses and our spiritual beliefs.  In the modern world, information is readily and abundantly available.  What is required is the translation of it into action.  Until then, the concept by itself is useful up to a point.  But beyond that – it in itself can become a cause of detrimental complacency.

Making a sacred time and space to consciously move into the new year with a whole new vibe can bring a unique coherence and harmony to this transition.  The symbolism and non verbal components of a personal ritual carries its own impact. Accordingly, below is a suggested outline.  Feel free to personalize it for your own use.

  1. Select a quiet time and space when you will be undisturbed.  Early mornings, or late night, just after a cleansing bath are good times.
  2. Light a lamp or candle, burn some incense or sage.
  3. Breathe quietly for a few moments, until your attention is centered in the present moment.
  4. Take a few minutes to pray and invoke the assistance of higher powers.
  5. Imagine yourself encased completely in a violet flame.
  6. Now read the sets of questions given below. It is not necessary to actively seek specific answers (though you could do that as a separate exercise), but to open ourselves to release and newer awareness. With each set, allow any images, emotions, or thoughts that arise. Allow all resistance, arguments, or blockages to show up.  After a few minutes of such pause, mentally affirm, “Release. Dissolve. Let go.” and surrender it all to grace.
  7. When you have finished the list in this manner, continue to sit quietly for a few more minutes with your eyes closed.  Imagine golden light pouring in through the crown of your head and out through the soles of your feet, deep to the centre of the earth.  Let the light cleanse out and heal all parts of you.
  8. Notice and anchor in the changes in your body, breathing and state of mind.
  9. Offer your thanks to the divine and open your eyes, feeling light and refreshed.

Questions for your consideration:

  • What residual emotions, thoughts and patterns are you still holding on to?  What would it take for you to release these easily now?
  • What habitual ways of perceiving, relating and behaving are you yet unwilling to release?  How would you feel without these?  What would it take for you to release these easily now?
  • What if the future looks nothing like the past?  What would it take for you to feel safe about not knowing how things turn out?
  • What is that you know you need to do differently, that you have been refusing to do until now?  What would it take for you to implement the knowledge that you already have?  Are you willing to give this awareness its due attention and energy now?
  • What is the one thing that you need to stop doing that could raise your joy and peace to a completely new level?  What is the one thing that you need to start doing that could raise your joy and peace to a completely new level?  What prevents you from making those shifts now?
  • Who do you need to forgive? What would it take for you to be willing to do that now?
  • What do you yet need to acknowledge and give its due honour  and appreciation?  Would you do that now?
  • Would you be willing to experience a whole new level of love, freedom, joy and peace than you have ever known before?  What would help you make this shift smoothly and comfortably now?

You can also use related articles, EFT scripts, poems and practices like the 5 minute exercise to reclaim peace or the New Beginnings Meditation on this blog as complementary tools.

If you enjoyed this exercise, please share it with others as well.

May we all reconnect with our own inner light and usher in a new era of lightness in the world we co-create… Enjoy your blessed new year!

Image Source:  FB Group – Ho’oponopono Lovers

A Prayer To Restore Faith

light and dark trees

I channeled this for someone very dear to me some days back. I shared it on FB earlier and the response there prompted me to record it here for easy and frequent retrieval.

For all the times I pretended to trust god, but I didn’t,
For all the ways in which I kidded myself
For all the ways in which I secretly tried to control
Everyone and everything
Never believing there was divinity at play
All the reassurance that I gave myself to trust and believe
While never feeling the truth of it in any way
For all the events and circumstances that habituated me
To feel let down
To expect to be abandoned, betrayed
To never have anyone to count on other than myself
To never find support, guidance, help or solace,

I pray.

I pray for forgiveness, my own;
From the universal Source,
And anyone else I may have blamed…
I pray that all the deep rooted patterns and emotions
Of helplessness, hopelessness,
Isolation, despair and pain
In every part of my being
across all space, dimensions and time
Be released, eliminated, erased.

I pray to have the awareness,
The lived acknowledgment and understanding,
That can only come from a whole and healed heart
One which has seen the falsehood of a wound,
Relieved of pain that an illusion caused

For every time I have thought myself alone,
Limited, out of my depths,
Pushed into free fall –
There was a wind beneath my wings,
A branch to reach out to,
A soft landing at the end of it all.

It always seems dark inside the tunnel
And though we may have to travel blindly
Stumble, stagger through terrain unknown and new
Know that light can be blinding too
And once these critical steps
Are maneuvered as best as one can
All the while have full, genuine faith

For once our eyes adjust
To the brightness and lightness of all things
We see….truly see again.