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Being An Empath Is Beautiful

I’m learning that being an empath can be a beautiful thing.. but it means I have to take exceptional care of my emotional, spiritual and physical health in order to be balanced and stay well. It’s taken my lifetime so far to understand myself and my needs as a sensitive. In the past I attracted narcissistic people and suffered from chronic depression, chronic stress, PTSD and multiple autoimmune disorders… It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve had so many lessons to learn regarding self protection, observing not absorbing, responding not reacting, healing the past, what food to eat, personal boundaries, self care, self love, avoiding toxins and toxic people, acceptance, forgiveness, handling emotional stress, how to re-energize, positive thinking … the list goes on.. and on..

I am finally learning to be me and to be well..

This is a good article by Alex Myles regarding accepting, honouring and embracing your high sensitivity. Enjoy :o)

Love & baby steps,

SG x

Princess and the Pea, by Christian Birmingham - my favorite illustrator of children's books.:

Author: Alex Myles

I am an empath.

I have always known I was quite different to many of those around me. Discovering more about the empath personality type has led me to discover a good understanding of myself, and also my relationships with others and the world that surrounds me.

For so many years I felt like an alien on this planet. I often used to say, “I am not of this world.” I didn’t know many people who were like me, who felt things the way I did or who could relate or resonate to things in a similar way to which I did.

The most striking thing for me about being an empath is the way I feel the physical, mental and emotional pain of others as though it were my own. This can be and has been emotionally and physically crippling and it has caused me to suffer tremendously. It is often described as being similar to a sponge, absorbing every emotion and piece of energy around me, and then becoming weighted down by it.

Learning about the empath personality type helped me greatly, as not only do I now understood myself better, I have also learned how to protect myself and not allow outside toxic energies, emotions or behaviors to affect me negatively.

Rather than absorbing all other energies, I now observe them. This prevents me from becoming overwhelmed, exhausted, suffering mentally or physically and being overly emotional.

An empath is someone who is highly sensitive to the energy and emotions emanating from people, animals and everything that exists around them. They have the ability to scan other people’s auras and souls and can intuitively pick up on past, present and even future thoughts and feelings and can quite accurately determine another person’s emotional, mental and physical state.
The saying “never judge a book by its cover” would ring true for an empath. Never would they trust the outer appearance or deceptive superficial exteriors; they will always sense what goes on behind the masks, if they trust their own judgment.

Unfortunately all too often an emapth is led to believe that these paranormal type skills do not exist in today’s world and their words are criticised, disbelieved and are told to be wrong. Downplaying an empath’s intuition, will benefit someone who may be trying to manipulate or use trickery, or someone with very little faith that these abilities exists.

It is vital that, to thrive, the empath personality type needs to work towards learning to trust their own judgment and intuition so that they can be at one with the inherent superpowers they have been born with.

If an empath does not have a good understanding of themselves and how to work with energy rather than pushing against it or absorbing it all, not only can this be emotionally debilitating, it can also result in physical illness with depression, stress and anxiety taking a toll on the body and a very high chance of suffering from the effects of burnout.

Like with all things, there are variations of the empath personality type. Some people will identify strongly, others will only recognise themselves in a few of the following traits:

1. Feels calmer when alone, and, in relationships, requires distance and regular periods of solitude.

2. When in the company of others an empath struggles to work out whether they are feeling their own emotions or the emotions of those around them.

3. Struggles to remain present as the chaos of emotions around them pushes and pulls on an empath’s own thoughts, feelings and emotions.

4. Often says yes to others without thinking of their own needs.

5. In relationships or friendships, very often puts other people before themselves, as though everyone else’s pleasure and happiness is more important than their own.

6. Relationships can often move too fast and can become intense very quickly as the empath connects on a deep, intimate level very quickly due to the ability to absorb other people’s energy and emotions.

7. An empath will often take full responsibility for how others treat them and for anything that goes wrong in relationships. They have a great amount of compassion and can clearly see other people’s emotional baggage and so they make many excuses for why people behave as they do, and this is very often to the detriment of an empath.

8. Tends to connect with people who are suffering and often wants to heal others or try to make the world a better place for them.

9. Can find themselves taking on and absorbing other people’s problems and being used as a sounding board or dumping ground so that others can offload their emotional baggage.

10. Instinctively knows when someone around them is not being truthful.

11. Sometimes empaths just know things, without having any idea of where they gained the information. When trying to work out the truth from a lie it can seem as though the information has been presented forward so that it can be used to help make a decision. The empath should only trust the information if they are highly skilled at reading themselves and others accurately and if paranoia or other information is not clouding their judgement.

12. An empath’s mind is an inquisitive one and they are constantly searching for answers and theorize and philosophise constantly.

13. An empath who is highly in tune with themselves and skilled at reading others will often be able to pick up on someone else’s thought processes even if they are thousands of miles away.

14. Connects very strongly to the animal kingdom and identifies very easily with the emotional and physical pains that animals go through.

15. Is often most at peace and feeling harmonious when spending time with nature and roaming around the outdoors.

16. Can feel the energy surrounding physical things and will often choose clothing or material purchases based on the energy that has attached to them.

17. Very creative and highly imaginative, writing, art, music, painting, dancing, acting, painting, building and designing are a few of the traits that empaths very often are passionate about.

18. An empath will likely get distracted easily when they are doing things they don’t enjoy and will quickly zone out or day dream when placed in situations where their mind is not stimulated.

19. Can struggle to fully relax in the company of others and really let their hair down and have fun, unless they are extremely comfortable and at ease with those surrounding them.

20. Prefers their living space to be clutter free and minimalistic; chaotic surroundings make for chaotic minds for an empath and they have enough inner sensations happening without cluttering their psyche further.

21. Finds it very difficult to be around people who are egotistical or enjoy putting others down to make themselves look better. Empaths will often come to the defense of those that have been rejected or bullied in any way.

22. Crowded places are emotionally overwhelming and downtime is required after social gatherings.

23. Highly sensitive to sounds, smells, bright lights and the feel of certain fabrics.

24. Regularly suffers with fatigue and can feel drained following interactions with others.

25. Can become shy and withdrawn as a method of self-protection. This can result in empaths becoming introverts as a way of avoiding the emotional and physical pain that often stems from interactions.

Other people may see empaths as moody or loners due to the amount of alone or downtime they need. Others may struggle to understand that these things are just part of the personality type and feel comfortable and the most natural ways to exist for an empath. Empaths do like connection, but they need to balance that out by creating a safe space for themselves to exist in alongside it.

Supermarkets, bars/clubs, family gatherings and any crowded event can all be energetically overbearing. Frequent downtime or escapism to a garden, bathroom or kitchen will occur to temporarily break away from the intensely high energy that occurs when many people are close together in the same venue..

Empaths may have an addictive personality and can pick up habits such as drinking alcohol, playing online games or excessively indulging in a particular interest as a form of escapism to blot out feeling so much pain.

Listening to or watching local or worldwide news can be traumatic as the pain or violence the people or creatures involved experience is often transferred onto the empath as though the pain was theirs.

Empaths are free spirits, adventurers, life-seekers, rule breakers, they live outside the box. Often it can seem to others as very unconventional or unorthodox lifestyles. However, these lifestyles often suit an empath perfectly and feel to them the most natural way to live.

As empaths learn more about themselves, many of the traits above can become a thing of the past, or a new way of dealing with them is discovered so that they do not have negative side effects. While many people may recognise themselves in the traits above, there will be some who who see a lot of these things as how they used to be before finding ways to combat or work towards understanding areas so that life becomes less painful.

The key to thriving as an empath is to recognise each of the traits and then spend time thinking about each one and looking at how it may be negatively impacting or hindering a certain part of life. When we have a good understanding of how a certain characteristic affects us, we can work out ways to turn any trait that may have negative side effects into positive ones.

The easiest way to look at the empath type is as though the personality is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing to have the ability to feel and experience life at such a highly sensitive level, so the joy and love around them will feel like constant electric pulses beating through them. However, the curse is that the lows are felt at an equal intensity.

When empaths learn to protect themselves by becoming consciously aware of how they are allowing outside energy to penetrate them, they are then in a position to turn the curses to blessings so that the painful and toxic energies are not absorbed within the psyche/soul. Empaths must be sure to surround themselves with others whose energies vibrate at a similar frequency so that they are not vulnerable and exposed to energy that can cause them harm. Self-protection is vital.

Being an empath really is a beautiful way to live and to experience life. Finely tuning our frequency so that we keep our energy levels high and refuse to take on or absorb anything that will harm us is the simplest, harmonious and magically unique way to exist.

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The Psychology of Stress, Orgasm, and Creativity

Irina Vitalievna Karkabi 1960 | Ukrainian Figurative painter:

by Maria Popova

“To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially, part of the female soul.”

“The more closely we analyze what we consider ‘sexy,’” philosopher Alain de Botton argued in his meditation on sex, “the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human being who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.” But in his attempt to counter the reductionism that frames human sexuality as a mere physiological phenomenon driven solely by our evolutionary biology, de Botton overcompensates by reducing in the opposite direction, negating the complex interplay of brain and biology, psychology and physiology, that propels the human sexual experience. That’s precisely what Naomi Wolf, author of the 1991 cultural classic The Beauty Myth, examines in Vagina: A New Biography (public library) — a fascinating exploration of the science behind the vastly misunderstood mind-body connection between brain and genitalia, consciousness and sexuality, the poetic and the scientific. What emerges is a revelation of how profoundly a woman’s bodily experience influences nearly every aspect of life, from stress to creativity, through the intricate machinery that links biology and beingness.

Wolf writes:

“Female sexual pleasure, rightly understood, is not just about sexuality, or just about pleasure. It serves, also, as a medium of female self-knowledge and hopefulness; female creativity and courage; female focus and initiative; female bliss and transcendence; and as medium of a sensibility that feels very much like freedom. To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially, part of the female soul.

[…]

Once one understands what scientists at the most advanced laboratories and clinics around the world are confirming — that the vagina and the brain are essentially one network, or “one whole system,” as they tend to put it, and that the vagina mediates female confidence, creativity, and sense of transcendence — the answers to many of these seeming mysteries fall into place.”

Handcrafted vagina embroidery by artist Kira Scarlet

A pivotal player in this mediation is the female pelvic nerve — a sort of information superhighway that branches out from the base of the spinal cord to the cervix, connecting the latter to the brain and thus controlling much of sexual response. But this information superhighway is really more like a superlabyrinth, the architecture of which differs enormously from one woman to another, and is completely unique for each one. This diversity of wiring in the highly complex female pelvic neural network helps explain why women have wildly different triggers for orgasm. (By contrast, the male pelvic neural network is significantly simpler, consisting of comparatively regular neural pathways arranged neatly in a grid that surrounds the penis in a circle of pleasure.) This biological reality, Wolf points out, clashes jarringly with the dominant culturally constructed fantasy of how sexual intercourse is supposed to proceed:

The pornographic model of intercourse — even our culture’s conventional model of intercourse, which is quick, goal-oriented, linear, and focused on stimulation of perhaps one or two areas of a woman’s body — is just not going to do it for many women, or at least not in a very profound way, because it involves such a superficial part of the potential of women’s neurological sexual response systems.

Another key component of sexual experience is the autonomic nervous system (ANS) — the puppeteer of arousal, controlling all smooth muscle contractions and affecting the body’s response beyond conscious control. It encompasses both the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions, and ensures they work in unison. Because arousal precedes orgasm, the ANS first needs to do its own work before the complex pelvic neural network can work its own magic.

Wolf writes:

“For women, sexual response involves entering an altered state of consciousness. … In women, the biology of arousal is more delicate than most of us understand, and it depends significantly on this sensitive, magical, slowly calmed, and easily inhibited system.”

To be sure, Wolf reminds us that it’s not at all uncommon for women to have a physiological response during rape, despite the enormous psychological pain and stress of the assault, but this response is not the same as the transcendent, dimensional orgasm that takes place when brain and body work in harmonious bliss. This also holds true in sexual situations that aren’t as violent as rape but still assault the ANS in one way or another:

If a woman’s ANS response is ignored, she can have intercourse and even climax; but she won’t necessarily feel released, transported, fulfilled, or in love, because only a superficial part of her capacity to respond has been made love to, or engaged.

In fact, the most fascinating aspect of the ANS, absolutely critical yet poorly understood, is that it is profoundly impacted by the mental landscape, steering the immutable interdependence between brain and vagina. The ANS, which serves as the translator between the psychological and the physiological, is thus particularly vulnerable to what psychologists call “bad stress.” (By contrast, the “good stress” many women experience in exciting or mock-dangerous sexual scenarios which they still control can be compelling and pleasurable.) “Bad stress” stems from the perceived lack of safety, and the presence of safety is absolutely essential to catapulting the female brain into the kind of “high” orgasm that is only possible in this disinhibited trance state. Wolf explains:

This biological, evolutionary connection for women of possible ecstasy to emotional security has implications that cannot be overstressed. Relaxing allows for female arousal.

Just as being valued and relaxed can heighten female sexual response, “bad stress” can dramatically interfere with all of women’s sexual processes.

[…]

“Bad stress,” researchers have now abundantly confirmed, has exactly the same kind of negative effect on female arousal and on the vagina itself. When a woman feels threatened or unsafe, the sympathetic nervous system — the parasympathetic nervous system’s partner in the ANS — kicks in. This system regulates the “fight or flight” response: as adrenaline and catecholamines are released in the brain, nonessential systems such as digestion and, yes, sexual response, close down; circulation constricts, because the heart needs all the blood available to help the body run or fight; and the message to the body is “get me out of here.” Based on [research insights], we now know that threatening environment — which can include even vague verbal threats centered on the vagina or dismissive language about the vagina — can close down female sexual response.

This notion that biology conditions consciousness and vice versa, of course, isn’t new. But the research Wolf cites presents compelling evidence that “bad stress,” especially rape and early sexual trauma, can have profound biological effects:

There is growing, if still preliminary, evidence that rape and early sexual trauma can indeed “stay in the body” — even stay in the vagina — and change the body on the most intimate, systemic level. Recovery is possible, but treatment should be specialized. Rape and early sex abuse can indeed permanently change the working of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) — so crucial for female arousal; and, if she is not supported by the right treatment, it can permanently alter the way a woman breathes, the rate of her heart, her blood pressure, and her startle reaction, in a manner that is not under any conscious control.

Even more strikingly, some studies have found that elevated SNS activation is linked to a variety of health hazards seemingly unrelated to sexual trauma, including vertigo, motor control and balance issues, visual processing problems, and elevated startle response. In other words, sexual abuse alters the brain in a way that sabotages multiple body systems and damages healthy stress response. Wolf recapitulates the implications poignantly:

Understood in this way, and with this significant evidence, rape and sexual assault, with their attendant trauma, should be understood not just as a form of forced sex; they should also be understood as a form of injury to the brain and body, and even as a variant of castration.

Demonstrating just how strong the connection between mind and body is, Korean researchers discovered that stress and sexual trauma actually affect, on a biological level, the very functioning of the vagina. Studying female rats, they found that “chronic physical stress modifies [sexual behavior] through a mechanism believed to involve complex changes in sex hormones, endocrine factors, and neurotransmitters.” What’s more, they were able to identify the precise biological mechanism responsible for this deep-seated interplay:

Evidently nitric oxide (NO) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) play important roles in vaginal and clitoral engorgement — helping the smooth muscle of the vagina relax and the vaginal tissues swell in preparation for arousal and orgasm — and these chemicals and their actions are inhibited when females are negatively stressed.

The researchers found that the stressed-out female rats were less receptive and more hostile to their male partners, displaying measurable aggression and irritability, and ultimately refusing to copulate. Stress, it turns out, diminished the female rats’ ability to reach arousal by greatly impairing their genital blood flow. The scientists concluded:

In animal model studies, mental or physical stress increases the level of serum catecholamines, thereby causing vascular contraction, which in turn reduces blood flow and leads to sexual dysfunction. . . . Since stress is concomitant with an increased output of catecholamines in blood . . . it is reasonable to assume that blood flow to the genital organs reduces during periods of stress. . . . [W]e measured norepinephrine as an indirect index of catecholamine level and found that it increased in the stress group and decreased in the recovery group. This result indirectly supports the suggestion that stress affects female genital blood flow.

Most ominous of all was the projection that if such stress levels were sustained over time, the physiological changes they cause would eventually affect the vaginal tissue itself. Indeed, researchers tested those tissues after the female rats were dead and found “biologically measurable changes.”

Women, of course, are not rats, but this only means that the effects of such stress are even more profound. Wolf argues that besides impairing women’s ability to reach orgasm, “bad stress” also affects the overall capacity for joy, hopefulness, and creativity. Unlike rats, humans are also susceptible to forms of abuse beyond the physical — Wolf cites the tragically prevalent cultural tendency to deride the vagina and its owner, embedded even in the slang we have for female genitalia. She writes:

The role of manipulating female stress in targeting the vagina should not be ignored. This behavior—ridiculing the vagina—makes perfect instinctive sense. These acts are often impersonal and tactical—strategies for directing a kind of pressure at women that is not consciously understood but may be widely intuited, and even survive in folk memory, as eliciting a wider neuropsychological “bad stress” response that actually debilitates women.

She cites one particularly unsettling example:

In 2010, male Yale students gathered at a “Take Back the Night” event, where their female classmates were marching in a group, protesting against sexual assault. The young men chanted at the protesters, “No means yes and yes means anal.” Some of the young women brought a lawsuit against the university, arguing that tolerating such behavior created an unequal educational environment. Ethically they are in the right, and neurobiologically they are right as well. Almost all young women who face a group of their male peers chanting such slogans are likely to feel instinctively slightly panicked. On some level they are getting the message that they may be in the presence of would-be rapists — making it impossible to shrug off immature comments, as women are often asked to do. They sense there is a wider risk to them that is being threatened, and indeed there is, but it is not just the risk of sexual assault. If they are stressed regularly in this way, they will indeed depress the whole subtle and delicate network of neurobiological triggers and reactions that make them feel good, happy, competent, and as if they know themselves.

One study termed the complex and lasting effects of such stress, an increasingly recognizable medical pattern, “multisystem dysfunction” — and it can effect such a wide array of physical health issues as higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, hormonal imbalances, and fertility problems. But the most damaging consequences of these physical changes, Wolf argues, are cognitive and psychoemotional:

The female body reacts in the same way to “bad stress” whether the context is the birthing room or the university or the workplace. If the female brain senses that an environment is not safe, its stress response inhibits all the same organs and systems, regardless of setting. Many of the signals that either stoke or diminish female desire have to do with the female brain’s question: Is it safe for her?

So if a woman goes to work or to study in a sexually dangerous or threatening atmosphere day after day, she risks — because of the cumulative, long-term effect of that “bad stress” — having the letting-go, creative “relaxation response” inhibited even outside her work or school environment.

[…]

If you sexually stress a woman enough, over time, other parts of her life are likely to go awry; she will have difficulty relaxing in bed eventually, as well as in the classroom or in the office. This in turn will inhibit the dopamine boost she might otherwise receive, which would in turn prevent the release of the chemicals in her brain that otherwise would make her confident, creative, hopeful, focused — and effective, especially relevant if she is competing academically or professionally with you. With this dynamic in mind, the phrase “fuck her up” takes on new meaning.

[…]

The vagina responds to the sense of female safety, in that circulation expands, including to the vagina, when a woman feels she is safe; but the blood vessels to the vagina constrict when she feels threatened. This may happen before the woman consciously interprets her setting as threatening. So if you continually verbally threaten or demean the vagina in the university or in the workplace, you continually signal to the woman’s brain and body that she is not safe. “Bad” stress is daily raising her heart rate, pumping adrenaline through her system, circulating catecholamines, and so on. This verbal abuse actually makes it more difficult for her to attend to the professional or academic tasks before her.

Yet despite the compelling scientific evidence, the most moving and encompassing point Wolf makes is an anthropological one:

The way in which any given culture treats the vagina — whether with respect or disrespect, caringly or disparagingly — is a metaphor for how women in general in that place and time are treated.