Every day, more and more people realize that they fall in the category of people with empathy (compassion), highly sensitive to energy and emotions of the environment.
Empathetic person is a person who has the ability to grasp the mental and emotional states of others. These people have a high social intelligence and are very good at helping others to solve their problems.
This post is a nice, quick-read overview for those who (variously) are empaths, psychics, or generally highly intuitive. This blog, in general, does a good job of staying away from the questionable “new age” claims and posts material that I find helpful–or at least very interesting.
While practicing healing and intuition exercises, beginners are told to begin with their imagination and that in time, their imagination will slide away and they’ll be seeing reality. (See Part One.)
Here’s a personal example that surprised me at the time, first that it happened at all, second that it was vivid and intense.
In a discussion group composed of people who at taken one or two Silva Method courses, we often talked about visualizing healing energy flowing from ourselves to other people. Usually, these were people we knew were sick, and the energy was sent after we relaxed our minds and closed our eyes and “saw” the energy as a beam of pure white light flowing toward (and enveloping) the person.
Some suggested we could send energy to people we saw on the street or on a bus or in a room full of people. We’d simply imagine it happening without closing our eyes or using any self-hypnotic countdown of numbers to relax our minds.
Headlights and Tail Lights
I tried this out on a dark country road that had a relatively small amount of traffic. My plan was to send energy to the people inside the cars as represented by pairs of headlights and tail lights ahead of me, on side roads at intersections, or in my rear view mirrors.
When only a car or two was visible, I could “say” in my mind, “Healing energy is flowing into your car for all of you.” When traffic grew heavier, that changed to quickly saying “Energy to you” for each pair of lights.
Even though I wasn’t far from home, the night was very dark, so I couldn’t possibly recognize any of the cars or the people in them.
After doing this for ten or fifteen minutes, I began to “know” how many people were in the cars, whether or not any of them were really sick or depressed or happy or having an argument, and sometimes whether they suddenly felt a “jolt of health” or a “jolt of happiness.” Their thoughts and conversations were becoming strongly apparent.
Soon, I was in tears because the impressions were so strong, the white light of the energy appeared before my eyes like flashes of lightning, and for some of the cars there came a validation that I was sensing actual moments and/or providing (through the energy) a bit of help.
I was an emotional wreck by the time I reached my destination (my house) and sat in the dark driveway for a long time trying to process what had just happened. I have never tried to replicate this experience because the impressions and flashes of lights were so vivid, they were beginning to dangerously impact my driving. I worried that I might close my eyes without realizing it and end up wrecking my Jeep.
So What Did It Mean?
First, it demonstrated that what begins as imagination can become more than that. It also showed me that the shift from imagination to intuition is most likely to happen when one isn’t trying to force it to happen. I thought I was pretending to send energy. Maybe it began that way, but it became an overwhelming validation that the process works.
Second, it gave me the confidence–usually in an easy chair with my eyes closed–to send energy or “see” situations while my mind was in a relaxed (alpha waves) state. The experience showed me what it felt like when intuition has taken over. So, I was going to a place I knew. People using biofeedback to lower their blood pressure while hooked up to a flashing light that indicates their progress, discover (when the light slows down) what it feels like when the biofeedback works. This allows them to do it without the flashing light wired to their fingertips. If you practice intuition and/or various energy healing programs, including Reiki, “what it feels like” is a good guide to how you’re doing, so to speak.
As a writer, artist, musician, or any other creative person who loves to let their imagination run free, I think we all discover in time that whether we’re writing a book or playing mind games, sometimes we learn things we didn’t expect to discover.
Even now, I “know” (even though I’m not thinking about that old exercise) what kinds of people are in the cars represented by headlights and tail lights on the roads at night. Yes, I avoid those who seem malevolent or feel a kinship with those who are happy or depressed. One never knows why kinds of faculties an exercise will unlock.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism novels where the magic and the realism are real.
There’s a fair amount of discussion on the Internet about the difference between imagination and intuition. In a sense, imagination is active, sometimes day dreaming play and sometimes the mind working to figure out what something is like or might be like whether it’s a novel, a prospective new job, a relationship, or a thousand other “what if” kinds of questions.
Intuition is passive, listening to what’s variously described as one’s inner self in contact with events or people we cannot–at that moment–see or hear or otherwise logically know about.
Participants in mental improvement courses, such as The Silva Method and others that lean toward the development of intuition, often begin exercises by being asked to imagine something. The intent of this is to focus and connect the relaxed mind on, say, a person or a place, and then allow one’s attention to to take over and begin providing impressions, visual or otherwise, about what is really happening (outside the scope of what we could possibly have known already).
Beginning with one’s imagination is easy because most of us can imagine just about anything. There’s no pressure in that. Since there isn’t any pressure, the mind is now free to widen that imagination into “seeing” what we previously didn’t know about.
When your imagination “switches” over to intuition, you will–as people often say–experience stronger feelings about the images, along with an inner knowing that they are true. When you are practicing, try to get feedback.
For example, have your spouse or your friend tell you (when you’re in a relaxed state) the name and location of a person you don’t know and have never heard about. Imagine that you see that person in your mind’s eye, and then just start talking about what you’re “seeing.” While you’re doing this, your spouse or friend might blurt out “OMG” and other surprised comments when you get something right. Or, they might wait until you finish “your reading” and then say where you were accurate.
The more you do this, the better you will get at it because you will begin to know what the intuited information feels like.
If you have nobody to practice with, you can pick out a town or other location that you’ve never visited, never seen on the news or the Internet, and never heard about. Just pick the name of a town off a list of the towns in one state or another. Then imagine you are there and see what you see. After doing this, Google the town and find some pictures and see how many of the parks, streets, and building match your impressions.
I have always found imagination to be a perfect doorway into intuition, though over time the need for lengthy imagination becomes less unnecessary. Some people are born with “psychic abilities” and know things without having to walk through that “doorway.” For the rest of us, imagination is a wonderful threshold into the innate abilities of our minds that we are working to develop.
If you search Google for either “Guided Visualization” or “Guided Meditation,” you’ll get a lot of hits. I first encountered these mental field trips in the 1970s when I was taking a relaxation/intuition seminar.
Briefly, a leader–in person or in a recording–leads individuals and groups through an imaginative (or recalled from memory) landscape, sets of affirmations, suggested visualizations, and other relaxing audio experiences that, faith-based or secular, are intended to help you experience deep relaxation and self-affirming statements/goals that are often accompanied by music.
In a group, people often lie on mats on the floor while the l leader reads from a prepared or spontaneous script; leaders also use pre-recorded visualizations or meditations. One beauty of the pre-recorded format is that it’s often available for purchase, so you can use it at home when it presents an experience that resonates with you.
Many visualizations begin with a relaxation method that’s akin to self-hypnosis. Some have you count down numbers, affirming that while you are doing this you are becoming more and more relaxed. Others ask you to pretend that you are doing down a stairway or an escalator or a trail to the valley floor.
While you are there, you might repeat scripted affirmations, imagine that you are meeting gurus or totem animals with messages for you, or simply listening to the music while pretending you are in a relaxing place. Leaders often give you a chance to say your own affirmations or think about your own psychological/spiritual journey.
(Note: Many experts say that affirmations–which often sound like New Year’s resolutions–are most effective when you do more than repeat them while relaxed or meditating. You need to do things in your waking world that support them. For example, if your affirmation is that you are getting more and more healthy every day, you need to tie this to doing healthy things–exercise, nutritious foods, etc.)
At the end of the visualization, the leader will usually end with a phrase such as, “Now I’m going to count from one to three. Then I say ‘three,’ you will be wide awake, feeling much better than before.”
If you use this process often, you will find that in time you can instantly “go” to your imagined relaxation status without having to count down. You know what it feels like to “be there,” so simply intend to feel that way as easily as you decide to raise your hand or sing a song.
The beauty of these visualizations/meditations is that you can listen to them often, learn how to replicate them, and–while you’re learning new skills–you’re having an enjoyable experience akin to listening to a favorite piece of music. If you listen to one at home, you’ll discover that you’ll often fall asleep. So, make sure you won’t be disturbed and that you really have time to fall asleep.
I haven’t listened to a guided meditation or visualization for a long time because I heard so many of them, that I can make up my own and/or reach the desired level of relaxation or active imagination without needing a series of steps. For most of us, this is the end result we want–a way to relax without medication, a way to handle stressful days, a way to discover the benefits of meditation, and a way of developing the so-called intuitive abilities that are latent in all of us.
P.S. My thanks to Melinda for mentioning this subject in a comment in an earlier post. That reminded me it might be helpful to others.
“Perhaps the most succinct evidence for the potent magic of written letters is to be found in the ambiguous meaning of our common English word ‘spell.’ As the Roman alphabet spread through oral Europe, the Old English word ‘spell, which had meant simply to recite a story or tale, took on a new double meaning: on the one hand, it now meant to arrange, in the proper order, the written letters that make up the name of a thing, in the correct order, was to effect a magic, to establish a new kind of influence over the entity, to summon it forth. To spell, to correctly arrange the letters to form a name or a phrase, seemed thus at the same time to cast a spell, to exert a new and lasting power over the things spelled.”
The old adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is rather false. Consider the sound-bite phrases and misleading comments in the current Presidential campaign alone that, once said, become gospel. Consider perjury in a courtroom, verbal bullying in a school, highly messaged government-speak, dear john letters, exaggerations on product labels and advertising, and phrases from religious books that are taken out of context. The pen and the voice really are mightier than the sword, the stick, or the stone.
In my Sun Singer’s Travels blog, I recently posted “What the hell are these important writers talking about?” Primarily, this was a rant about the obscure (and possibly gibberish) discussions between some writers and some interviewers that make no sense whatsoever to most readers and natural writers. By natural writers, I mean those who discover their stories as they write and, while they usually know the ins and outs of style and technique, they don’t look upon words as requiring a doctoral dissertation to set down on the page in a story.
If a writer creates elaborate outlines, s/he also may write organically while putting words on the page if s/he uses the outline as a rough guide rather than a recipe to be followed precisely. Personally, I think outlines get in the way of the story, though that’s simply my approach.
Hoodoo Reading the Bones
Traditional conjurers (also called hoodoo practitioners or root doctors) often use a form of divination called “reading he bones” to obtain answers to questions for themselves or their clients. Possum and chicken bones are often used; others (as the picture shows) add other objects such as stones, nuts and shells.
While some conjurers paint or number the bones, assign a meaning to each one–like the meanings assigned to individual Tarot cards–others throw the bones into a small circle drawn in the dirt (see picture here) and listen for the voices of their ancestors who were also conjurers. As with Tarot card readers who are advanced enough to forget the descriptions of each card that they read in a book, conjurers reading the bones may variously say they’re using their intuition, tapping into their inner selves, or hearing the voices of the “old ones” in their lineage.
In short, they use the bones as they view them on the ground as catalysts for channeling information from outside themselves. You can’t do this unless you can step away from the logical “what-ifs” that come to mind when you ask the bones a question. Too much logic destroys a reading because the conjurer is thinking of typical speculative answers to the question (my missing spouse stayed late at work, got in a car wreck, ran away with a co-worker, forgot to tell me s/he had a dinner meeting, etc.) rather than listening for the ancestors or intuition to speak.
Writing with no outline–or a few sketchy ideas–is often called “discovery writing” because the writer discovers what the characters are going to do and say while writing rather than creating an outline or a list of scenes in advance. Many of us have a general idea what we’re going to do before we start writing. While writing “Conjure Woman’s Car,” for example, I knew that my main character was an old-style conjure woman living with her cat in the Florida Panhandle in the 1950s. I also knew that the Klan was going to do something bad and she was going to respond with hoodoo (folk magic).
Other than that, the story evolved as I told it. In a sense, my muse, my intuition, and even the developing characters “decided” what was going to happen next. When I finished a scene or a chapter, suddenly the thing that was going to happen next came to mind. I supported my intuition by reading a lot about conjurers, spells and related blues songs. Quite often, I’d learn what was going to happen next in my story by the “coincidental” reading of a certain conjuring practice or a historical KKK tactic.
I like to think that when a writer is using discovery writing, s/he is following a practice very similar to the traditional conjurer who throws the ones and listens for the voices of her ancestors for the answer. The conjure woman asks a question and allows the process to create the answer. The discovery writer asks “What If,” listens for the voice of his “muse” and or his unconscious mind and allows the writing process to create the story.
We are, in this way, attempting to cast a spell in the sense David Abram suggests in the quote at the beginning of this post. No, we are not using words to “force” our readers to write us large checks or leave town or change their political beliefs. We’re using words to cast a spell called a story that claims the reader’s imagination from the first word through “the end.”
When the short story or novel comes out well, we’re often praised for our imaginations. That’s okay, but really, our ability is simply to listen and record what we hear. When the story or novel doesn’t turn out well, we probably stepped in the way of the natural process and tried to plan or micro-manage the action down one road or another where it didn’t belong.
At best, we’re conjurers who know as our experience grows how to establish a process that works. Those who read the bones know that they get better results when they wash and dry the bones before throwing them on an animal hide or into a circle. They know not to touch the bones with their hands but to use a stick. Likewise, writers know what conditions make it easier for them to write: some listen to music; others like the background sounds of a natural setting or a coffee shop. Whatever conjurers and writers typically do when they work evolves into rituals that support hearing the true answer to the question or hearing where the story needs to go.
Answers and stories live and breathe on their own. If we have a talent, it’s being able to keep out of the way.