Lessons for the Empath from Walmart


Here’s why Walmart, the empath and ‘is it mine?’ matter. Because it’s  all about you. Until it’s not. Being an empath is about your connection with others and your capacities to use your own nature as a tool or superpower for good but before you can understand or build your tool box and put on the cape, you need to know you.  As you begin to know yourself, the rest will unfold like a Jacob’s ladder, leading step-by-step into the role you were made for, prayed into being for. Walmart is merely one overt example of how we recoil and project when we feel. It is also the perfect testing ground for what your lack of boundaries really means, how the body itself is our greatest support and barometer of energies around us, and how we can manage our responses to ourselves and the environment around us.

Here’s how my experience with Walmart changed and subsequently changed me. I’ve never been a fan of the place myself but in 2011, I happened to be in a Wal-Mart in central Virginia attempting to get in and out with little fuss. While I never experienced anything like panic in the store, I was easily befuddled and could never go without a list and pen to mark things off the list. Otherwise, in the haze, I’d forget half of what I needed and probably looked like a coked-out squirrel (think about it for just a sec!). This time, in the cereal aisle, while pretending to stare at my list—the perfectly acceptable way to be seen muttering to oneself—I was nearly knocked over by a energetic force outside of me making contact with my head. It wasn’t an ‘oops, upside the head’ kind of thing. It was an intentional ‘now I’ve got your attention, haven’t I’ kind of thing. I muttered a few choice foul words and finally, in a fit of pique, said, “Fuck it. Show me.”

I didn’t know then what I know now about my relationship with the invisible. Clueless, I was stumbling through my own evolutionary process in a way that was about as ungraceful as one can feel at Wal-Mart. My response was one of frustration more than curiosity but someone or something had made an impact in more ways than one and I was going to find out why, dammit.

For the lack of a better description, I turned my shopping cart into a dowsing rod. What first seemed like aimless wandering finally took me to the front of the store, past the customer service desk, and to the ladies room. I didn’t have to pee (unusual in itself) but there I was because that’s where that damn shopping cart took me. And, given the choice to ignore why I was there or go into the restroom, I chose the latter. I entered and nearly walked right into the only other person there; a woman whose boyfriend or boss, so guessed because she kept calling him “He”, had been an asshole. In that moment, all I could do was say, “Come here, honey” and wrap my arms around a distraught stranger and repeat, “I’m so sorry. I love you. We’ve got you.” When I got smacked in the head by that unknown energy, the direction was clear: go to the person who needs to be loved on.  Who knows how long I’d been receiving the message but could not ‘hear’ it through the filters of anxiety, exhaustion, and confusion.

In case I missed the point, that set-up repeated itself four more times, each time in a public shopping area. By the fifth time, at the Fairfax, Virginia, Macy’s where I was on the hunt for that perfect pair of jeans, I knew the cue. Although my response to the energetic stimulus was not as if I’d been assaulted again, that energetic ‘signature’ was identical each time and wasting time or arguing was moot. By the time it occurred at Macy’s, I dropped the two feet-high pile of jeans I was carrying in the most inappropriate place and walked directly to the nearest ladies restroom. And, sure enough, there she was, another upset woman who, when asked if she needed some help or a hug, merely said, “I just need time to myself.”

I never did go pick up the pile of jeans. That ‘aha’ and ‘oh shit’ moment was enough for one day. Like with many other experiences, I left the mall and while stuck in traffic on the return home said, “Well now, what in the hell do I do with all that?”

What I’ve learned in the ensuing five years is to turn that into a teaching tool for others, how to discern what is mine to deal with, what is not mine to not deal with, and what is mine to deal with. You’ll soon be able to do the same.

There is no denying that there is discomfort, even pain, in this exploration of yourself and the world around you. However, that cannot harm you. Unlike one of the more common myths, you are not taking on any one else’s pain or absorbing it.  You are feeling it, sometimes the depths of it. The feeling of it and it’s expression bring a freedom to you and to another.

Anthon St. Maarten has described his experience of feeling another this way:

I can even feel the anxiety some people feel in the pit of their stomach when they are telling a lie, or feel their heartbeat increase when they are feeling guilty. If the lady in front of me at the supermarket is getting angry I might feel her blood pressure rising, and possibly perceive additional information about her personal life that may cause her to be so impatient and irritable. But that does not mean that I necessarily identify with her feelings (empathy) or feel sorry for her (sympathy). I simply experience what she is feeling and I know why she is feeling that way, even if it makes no sense to me personally.

The difference for me and, quite possibly you, is that these experiences generally make complete sense to me, I can identify with her feelings and, feel sympathy and empathy, and, when necessary express them without  attachment to the feelings or any outcome. 

Unlike St. Maarten and many others, I disagree that empaths walk around absorbing or taking on the energies of others like a sponge. If that were the case, we would be experiencing joy, surprise, grief, awe, and orgasm, sharing those in the same way we bitch about being effected by ‘energy vampires’ (which, following my logic, don’t exist in the way they are commonly described).

That is not to say i don’t believe we are not affected by the energies around us. We absolutely are but being affected by our environment is not limited to those who identify as empath and the effect upon us is real. How we define it is important, mostly because it’s our responsibility, not another’s. Everyone is affected by things surrounding them. We may be special enough to feel someone’s kidney stones but they are not going to land in your own kidney. Debbie Downer’s negative mood is not a virus. You may feel her funk because she’s telegraphing it in more ways than one but she’s not sucking everything out of you. You are absolutely feeling it but your systems don’t know what to do with it. Your feeling of ‘sucked dry’ is a tiredness that comes from all of your systems trying to figure out what the fuck to do with the unknown funk it’s attempting to process.  You’re tired. Not for ‘no good reason’ but for a very good reason. You may know you haven’t run a marathon but other parts of you disagree because they actually have been working that hard.

So, homework: Post-It notes “Is it Mine?”.  Pay attention to how the brain and body respond to the question. Don’t create an answer. If one flows through you, connect to your breath and ask another question; who or why is a good one.

This is work. Simple work but it requires some focus. Ask, attend.  As you begin to consciously discern what’s yours and what’s not, you’ll also begin to learn what you’re to do with that knowledge. I touch (or mentally air-kiss) and cure shit. You might create energetic space for a new song, design, recipe, or poem to move through. You might be smacked upside the head with the next brilliant idea that makes the rest of us say, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”  You might just find space for peace within your ownfineself.

I’m available to ask questions. If you’ve got ’em, ask.


Best Visual Description of What I Do

This is the best graphic of what my world is like!  This is how my body feels almost all the time.  Especially my head, heart and hands.

That ‘connection’ outside the ball? That’s what happens when I work with people.

Pretty cool, eh?

Myths of Being an Empath

Talking about psychic-stuff is a challenge for me.  It’s been overcomplicated, mysticized, romanticized, twisted, subverted, and glamorized over the course of millenia.  So much so that addressing issues related to what many considered psychic gifts is sacrosanct.   Weeeelllll, I think it’s time to change that.  I have found that the myths perpetuated about psychic-stuff do more than create confusion, diminish self-exploration and dull individual inner-sight.  They actually cause harm.  In that vein, I’m beginning a rather random series of posts many of those myths in an effort to begin a healthy discussion about moving past mythologies and archetypes into the 21st century.  I’m often boggled by how often people will rely on false histories and archetypal paradigms to maintain an ‘orthodoxy’ similar to that of the religious dogma.  We won’t wear clothes that are four years old but will persist in not expanding our thinking beyond that of 400 or 4,000 years ago when it comes to what many think of as the supra- or super-natural.

I’m going to start with a few things related to the nature of empaths.  Generally speaking, a psychic (or energetic) empath is one that can literally, tangibly, palpably feel another’s emotions, thoughts, and illness (and less talked about: other distinct energies put off by technologies, group vibe, colors, textures, foods and more).  For a reminder, empathy is defined as: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another (Merriam-Webster).  The reason why being an empath has been considered a ‘psychic gift’ is that not everyone has that capacity of literally feeling those things.  Which brings us to:

Myth Number One:  Not all empaths have the capacity to be empathetic.  Some are just ath-holes and some cannot connect that literal feeling to anyone else.  Some are afflicted with both being an ath-hole and allaboutmeitis.

The above is directly connected to:

Myth Number Two:  Empaths must protect themselves.  This one has probably been around humans started trying to figure this ‘stuff’ out and is directly connected to the notion that all things invisible are negative, black, evil, demonic and will suck the life juices out of you if you let your guard down.  ‘Protecting yourself’ in a bubble, eggshell, invisible super-shield of energetic deflection is both a mind-fuck, unnecessary and harmful.

Everything is energy. And energy moves.  That’s its nature.   Just as the energy carried by the wind moves in a fashion we can feel, so do other energies: some slower (like the chair you are sitting in), some faster (the electricity moving through your body right now).   An imaginary layer of Saran Wrap will not stop energy from moving.  What these ‘protections’ do, though, is create intentional blindness (not to be confused with inattentional blindness although the similarity here is quite striking).

By intentional blindness, I mean the choice to say “I’m not seeing you” (a great example is here: http://youtu.be/j0S7mDxF27M).  When we create our ‘bubble of protection’ or don our special stone, we are, in effect, simultaneously doing three things:  we are shutting ourselves off from the things that we need to be aware of (choosing ignorance),  shutting ourselves down so that others cannot be aware of us, and putting out there that there is something out there that can harm us.  Many of those who follow spiritual or metaphysical or psychic precepts talk about ‘removing the veils that separate’ us from the invisible while intentionally putting them back up.  We can’t have it both ways.

Those of us who are empaths are not really ‘hooking into’ specific energies but are an ‘always on’ active part of the invisible flow of *all* energies–occasional conductor, benefactor, transmuter, bearer of witness, interpreter, etc.    Invisible energies themselves are not harmful to us.  Annoying, distracting, ADHD-excuse givers, yes.  Harmful, no.   The harm comes when, by choosing to be intentionally blind, we cannot pay attention to what’s happening within and around us.  Often, energies seek us out for either recognition or intervention.  If we are not paying attention, that energy will continue to seek our attention.  At first like this.  Then, this.  By the time it’s reached this stage, we’re in trouble.

I know the videos are a little on the entertaining side of things but the consequences for not being aware of what is happening around and within us can be devastating.  By the time energies have reached that psycho-poodle stage, we may be afflicted with a variety of mental & physical health symptoms that resemble everything from anxiety & chronic fatigue to auto-immune & neurological disorders that are often treated medically to no avail because, while there is a distinct physical response to what’s occurring within the body, the cause isn’t readily apparent.  And, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle.  This is the body’s response to TMI –it’s been receiving data that it doesn’t know what to do with and as it tries to process it without direction, things get buggered.   If you can imagine every hair on your body being a satellite-like sensor or receptor of invisible energies (emotional, electrical, light, sound, magnetic, psychic, pranic and ectoplasmic) without an on-off switch, receiving information for decades, that’ll give you some hint of what I mean.

I’ve come across folks with everything from diagnosed mental illness of anxiety, depression & bi-polar disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, MS, Guillain-Barré, lupus and more, who, once they have cleared the gunk and learned how to retrain the brain, body & psyche to work with the gift, they no longer need truckloads of medications (I mean, 31 pills a day?  Really?) to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally.  The process is ridiculously simple once you get really honest with yourself and step away from the ‘rules’ of being.  And, there is no need to reach that place to begin with.

Speaking of honesty:

Myth number three:  Empaths may feel another’s illness or emotions.  However, we do not ‘take it on’.  We neither absolve another’s prostate cancer nor take on their mental illness by bearing it ourselves. In our witnessing another’s energies or conducting them (if we’re led to do so), however, one of our stupid human tricks comes into play:  making it about us when it’s really not.   It’s similar to the martyr complex and serves us poorly.

It ain’t always all about you but for you to be an empowered, effective empath, you need to know all about you.  You need to know yourself intimately and honestly (there’s the rub).  Your triggers, issues, baggage claim stubs, foibles and innate power–you must be able to identify, recognize and separate those things from others before you can understand why you are gifted the way you are and the responsibilities inherent in your unique capacity (because, like everything else, not all empaths are built the same or for the same skills).

Which brings me to a little more about honesty:

Myth number four:  A lot (I mean a shit-ton) of what empath folks claim to feel isn’t from others or otherwise outside themselves.  It’s of themselves.  One of the common ‘themes’ perpetuated is the incapacity of empaths to watch violent movies, news coverage, engage in or observe conflict.  That’s bullshit.  That emotional response, kids, is merely a reflection of our own fears, unresolved inner issues, and, the kicker–projection.

All of these myths are grounded in rules created by someone, somewhere a long, long, long time ago who decided that this was what an empath is about and how they should (or should not) appear.  It’s been regurgitated ad nauseum (entirely intended!) and accepted in the 21st century as truth in the same way it was in the first.

And, the recycling of such is compounded by a generalized societal unwillingness to understand and experience emotions fully,  to investigate and address emotional & mental health issues in a holistic manner, and the persistence of psychic ‘experts’ spouting–errr, sharing–dogma as universal truth.

The truth is there may be some tools that suit some people.  However, there are no universal ‘rules’ to being an empath–we are unique from the larger crowd and from each other.  In fact, I think that if people will shuck the rules they’ve been trying to follow, they will find that they can move with ease through the invisible and visible.

For instance, not all of us are meant to be ‘grounded’.  I’m not quite sure how it happened that ‘grounded’ transformed from being a disciplinary tactic resembling leashing to a necessary ‘rule’ for moving through the world–particularly when it comes to those who have an awareness of & relationships with the etheric.  It’s kind of like mediation, great for some but not meant for everyone. And, the reliance on it for you, if it’s not meant for you, can create a frenetic, sanity-doubting experience of life that is unnecessary.

All of this boils down to this:   there. is. no. separation.  Between visible & invisible.  Etheric and physical.  Some of us just experience these things in a slightly (ok, okaaaaayyy…extraordinarily) different fashion from others.  That’s it.  There’s no need to keep mystifying or mysticizing it.  It’s time now to move past that into real-world, real-life application to serve & inspire others.

There is more myth-busting to come. For now, let this percolate and see what comes.  It’s merely food for thought and action.  Might piss you off,  might inspire a slightly different way of experiencing the world.  If you wanna learn how to do this, check out this course that will start February 1:  http://www.ingridoliphant.com/IngridOliphant.com/Empath_Class.html

Honesty…honestly. It’s about time I was honest with myself and the rest of the world.

“As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know.”
― C.G. Jung

I was on the phone with a potential client last week and after she ran through some of the things she was seeking help with, I asked, “Why me?  Why now?”  Without hesitation she said, “You are the first person I’ve really connected with because, well, it just seems like you’re honest.”  She went on to describe some personal encounters with other folks and stories of fleecing by spiritual types, men lying on dating sites, and other instances where she ‘just knew’ people were lying during conversations.  An acquaintance and I had a similar discussion about passive-aggressive  behavior and communication when direct, honest communication gets us to the point much more quickly–even if it’s something that doesn’t necessarily want to be heard by another (or conversely, said by us!).   This was followed by an interaction with someone who wondered aloud if my ‘working with veterans, law enforcement and first responders for free’ was ‘a gimmick’ or advertising ‘teaser’ to garner attention.

Whoa.  I mean, yay me, right? But, seriously, why does honesty seem like such an anomaly these days?  Or are we just so jaded by all sorts of BS that the bullshit-o-meter is stuck on high?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always honest. It’s my general way of being but I’m as human as the next person and will lie on occasion. Articles, books and movies abound about why we do that intentionally and without thought.  For the most part, though, that was beaten out of me long ago.  I’ll tell you up front if what you’re wearing is unflattering but in situations where I’m forced to express certain things, notsomuch.  Ask me how I am on a bad day and if I think you’re going to introduce drama, I’ll say, “Fine.”  I hedge what I tell others sometimes–particularly if they’re asking a ‘psychic’ kind of question–because when they ask questions of me they may not be prepared to hear what I have to say or their resistance may lead to an encounter I don’t have the energy for.  Sometimes I’ll dance around the answer to lead them to it without saying it.  Think of how much time I could save.

I’m also not honest about how I know myself to be.  I’m afraid to put myself out there in the way I know I’m meant to.  It’s one thing to read kitschy quotes placed on pretty pictures (especially those with Johnny Depp!) about not caring about what others think but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to really say fuck you to everyone around you.   For me, the fear comes at several levels.  First, I spent nearly my entire first two decades on the defense physically and emotionally.  While in that state, I was sort of where I am now:  needing to be seen, to be heard.  That’s a lot of time spent being hurt and waiting for ‘it’ to come.  As this gift of mine has unfolded for me, I’ve felt I’ve had to defend it and me to those around me or limit my expression of it

I’ve felt that I’m at a place in my life where I don’t think I can do that again.  But I’m reminded again and again and again through ecstatic experience, visions, interactions with clients, the invisible & visible, that I can no longer play chicken.  So, I’m making a choice to go balls-to-the wall and come out of my own little strange closet, so to speak.

My fear looks a little like this:  I’m afraid of being abandoned by those left in my life.  I’m afraid of nutjobs becoming too much to deal with.  I hedge when people ask about the work I do.  I deny how special what it and I do together is (and the fact that there is no ‘it and I’).  I’m afraid that when someone cheers my ‘unconventional, inconvenient and unapologetic’ way that I will get caught up in the opposite. I’m afraid I’m really not prepared for this, that I’ll be in it all alone, that I’ll not be able to trust people who appear.  In fact, I keep making up all sorts of stuff to be afraid of to, well, keep being afraid–to keep from being honest with myself first and the rest of the world.

I’m more afraid, though, of missing out on life by not claiming my role in it.   In an instant-info age where folks try to out-spiritual one another, create hints and allegations of being THE second coming (neverminding the notion they don’t know what it really means),  bash those who claim their power while sharing ‘that’ Marianne Williamson quote, shouting EGO when someone speaks truth as they know it, I’ve been afraid to join the babel.   I’ve intentionally kept myself disappeared, even in sessions with people when miraculous events have taken place, denying that I know how and what I do because I’m afraid of feeling what I did as a child:  being unseen or, in turn, being seen and either ignored entirely or beat back into ‘being disappeared’.

I’ve known that this healing gift-thing that magically showed up three years ago has purpose beyond what I could have formerly imagined but now need no imagination for.  I’ve known that this form is not merely the deliverer of a message or healing or whatever the fuck this is since two and a half years ago an observer of a session watched me transform/disappear into light while I was standing in front of her.  I’ve known since two Februarys ago that I was being called out to step into a role for which I made presumptions of being unprepared. And, I’ve been reminded gently and I’ve been reminded not-so-gently and have not acted upon those remembrances because I don’t know what to do about all of this.  Although a path has been paved for eons to this point, it’s up to me to create the next bit of it and I don’t know what that means (okay, I kind of do but the mechanics of it escape me).  I don’t know how to be it or in it.  And, let’s face it, so many want to be the ‘expert’,  to tell me how to do & be so when they can’t know it or me and want me to show up in the way their reliance on archetypes and other shit has previously defined how I show up.   They try to wrap their language and labels around me to define (confine?) me in an understandable manner.   Some are ridiculously certain that I have a message–particularly one they’re certain they want to hear! (I love how folks will ignore ‘messages’ that float around, or do the opposite and latch onto the latest-or oldest-and strangle the life out of it, then move onto the next rather than letting the message breathe life into them.)  Some choose to deny and denigrate.  Some choose to attach themselves to the things I say in a manner that I do not.  Some see me.  Most don’t.  Any more, I care only inasmuch as it helps do this:

Here’s what I do know:  I experience the world in a manner most cannot conceive of–I walk with the visible and invisible in the same manner with no need for pre-defined roles, names, associations, hierarchies, and bureaucracies.  I experience the world as it is and appears before me.   I am both mystic and part of the mystery of it all, beyond theories, philosophies, systems, blueprints, codes, myths & models.  I cure cancer and other disease sometimes whether or not anyone believes it is possible. I bring to people spiritual enlightenment or awakening sometimes whether or not anyone believes it is possible.  I do stupid human tricks (everyone believes this is possible!!) like everyone else but more than one heart beats within mine.  I help other people shed pain, peel back layers, cut through cloaks and stories, and drop their veils.  Now it’s time to drop mine.    And I have no idea what this means in the day-to-day movement of life (although the big picture is ridiculously clear!) or what it will bring but my own time is now.

There are many like me all over the world.  Some of us are in places in the world where they cannot express their own being for a variety of limitations.  It behooves those of us without those limitations–like me–to stand up, claim it and start moving through the world as we are meant to without fear, without framing ourselves as another or in others projections to find acceptance, and start doing some shit.  I’m choosing to do so in this manner.  And move through the world as I was born to do.   I will no longer hold myself back and sit in the back of the class.   What has moved through me for nearly six years is this:  “Before there was, I was.”  I am meant to be here, my role is larger than anyone, including myself, could have known previously or possibly see now.  I’m now going to own it,  set my life so that I can know it and move through the world with it.  This is my shift today.

For some perspective on how I’ve come to this take a peek at other posts from last October and the past two Februarys.

Peace in, kids!

Kind Suggestions

It’s been kindly suggested that I hold back from sharing my struggles with folks who share my social media stream and, potentially, the general public or potential clients, so that others will see me as an ‘expert’ & teacher. While I appreciate the sentiment, the idea that people only need to know me as an ‘expert’ or teacher is a little antithetical to how I move through the world.  Despite my appreciation for others’ ideas, I find that I am already restrained at one level and choose not to be restrained in this fashion.

I hold myself back in sharing my deeper knowing for very specific reasons and I hold back on things related to the Mr because he likes his life private.  Outside of that I like to let it all hang out. I put all of myself out there for several reasons:  It suits me, it’s how I one way in which I create a sense of community & family, it’s cathartic and helps me process stuff, I’m too undisciplined to keep a ‘real’ journal, it keeps me accountable and, for me, is also a reflection of everyman’s journey.

While others’ paths may not unfold quite like mine we share experiences of life we can all learn from.  I feel free, furious, excited, scared shitless, sacred, sanctimonious, grace-filled and goofy, anxious, awed, grateful, aggressive, chastised, amazing, brilliant, stupid–sometimes all in one day. Sometimes all at once and I like sharing that to help myself and others (I hope, anyway).  I’m not one who can put one face on for some and another for others.  I live wide open in every other way and this is just part of that.

I’m not an expert in anything other than myself and even that is occasionally a questionable level of expertise.  I hit another shift and think, “Holy shit.  Now what that fuck do I do with that bit of me?!”  I’m not an expert on energy healing & I don’t think anyone is despite the prettily packaged ‘expertise’ that’s out there.  We have ideas and observations but not much more than that.  I’m not an expert in spirituality.  I’m not spiritual.  I don’t divide things in that manner.  I don’t have a message to share (I suppose “be nice and breathe” counts, though) or promote any -ologies, -alities or -isms nor am I going to create a new one or more ‘product’.

I do some amazing shit that I call healing because I don’t know another word or string of them that comes close to accurately describing it’s awesomeness.  Miracles occur around me all the time and I’m ridiculously human.  I like sharing the miracles, the madness and the human-ness that is all my freaky world.

So I appreciate that some would like to view me as an expert and teacher but I’m going to suggest that you consider me neither.

Angelic Doctor ~ Thomas Aquinas

And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thought; a sense of the sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns.
And the round ocean and the living ar,
And the blue sky, and the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thoughts
And rolls through all things…

Seeing Amma

Two weeks ago I braved the crowds in Reston, Va, and went to go see Amma.  After standing in line with hundreds of others I wondered what the experience would be like.  I’ve heard stories of how people felt in her presence and the anticipation heightened as the line behind me kept growing and growing and…you get the point.  At least once I thought, “Holy mazoly! What have I been missing out on all this time?”

The truth is, I’d not missed out on anything really.  I was taken by spectacular music on an energetic ride that was amazing but the same as I do every time I work with someone or when I’m just ‘in the groove’.  I was amazed at the number of people spanning obvious religious, ethnic, racial, and economic strata from around the globe.  However, I get to experience that every day, too.

What I was reminded of as I watched hundreds of people worship at the feet of and sing to this woman (and, don’t get me wrong–what a woman she is!!!) is how frequently we look outside of ourselves and place value on things outside of ourselves.  Would that we would look upon and see ourselves in the same way we do another.

To find out more about her, go here:  http://www.amma.org/