I was driving on the beltway making my way from my parents’ house to my job in Landover, Maryland like I did most days. I was about 19 years old. I was halfway to work when a sudden feeling took over my entire being. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say it was a feeling of incredible sadness and heartache. It was physical and heavy. It overwhelmed me while I was driving and I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. Stranger still, at the moment I started feeling this immense sorrow the name of a boy I went to elementary school with came into my mind as clear as a bell. Tommy Stevens*. I hadn’t seen, talked to, or thought about Tommy in over a decade. Although he was a nice kid, we were never close friends and I had no idea where he went after our few years together in elementary school. The feeling passed as quickly as it came and I didn’t give it much more thought as I arrived at work. About a half hour into my shift my mother called me and before we hung up she said “Oh by the way, I don’t know if you remember him from elementary school or not but I heard today that Tommy Stevens died. They found his body in the Anacostia River.”
I’ve always been able to “feel” things from people. I can sense when something isn’t right, when someone can’t be trusted, or if the person is carrying some unresolved pain or grief. And incidents like the one about Tommy Stevens have happened too many times in my life for it to be a coincidence. Too many times I’ve been taken over by a dark emotion attached to a name or vision of someone, or their home or family only to find out later that someone died or was hurting or going through a significant loss or upheaval. Someone I would have no reason to “feel” or think about. I don’t talk about this much. On the rare occasion that I recount these incidents I am often met with disbelief and doubt. I understand that response because I myself have doubted if this is really happening. Is there some logical explanation that could make sense as to why I am feeling something so real and painful from someone I don’t know? In the case of Tommy’s death I’m not sure whose sadness I was feeling. Was it his mother’s loss of her son? Was it the emotions my mother felt upon hearing the news? I won’t ever know.
Some people would call this intuition. That is the term that is tossed around most often but what I experience is much more intense. I know my father was very intuitive. He could keenly sense if someone wasn’t on the “up and up” as he would say. He never discussed it deeper than that but he was always in tune with what he felt from people and he never doubted his feeling.
Later in life I understood myself to be an empath, a person who can sense/feel and sometimes take on the emotions and pain of others. The list of empath traits sums me up quite well but I don’t usually hang on to what I am feeling. I experience it very strongly and clearly and can now recognize when it’s not my own pain I am feeling. However, looking back at my life it would explain a lot of things I experienced that seemed bizarre at the time. I would have extreme anxiety over going to places with big crowds of people. Panic attacks that upset my stomach and tightened my chest. Empaths aren’t fond of large crowds because they can often feel everyone’s emotions. I would sometimes feel sad and overwhelmed for no apparent reason. I thought I was going through a depression or I was just over stressed from work. Looking back I can guess that perhaps I was feeling someone else’s emotions but I just wasn’t aware of what was happening at the time.
The empath title fit me quite well until this June when I started my journey to become a reiki practitioner. I explained some of my experiences to my teacher who said that I may be a clairsentient. This was my first time hearing of this term. I had of course heard of clairvoyant which is “clear sight”. Clairsentience is translated as “clear feeling”. The definitions of empath and clairsentient are very similar and I’m certain that both can apply to me. Empaths take on the emotions of people around them. They may feel the need to help or fix that person. They are often sought out as the person to confide in or unload upon. They get overwhelmed in large chaotic crowds.
Clairsentients are highly sensitive to their surroundings. Not just the feelings of the people around them but also the location itself. They can sense when something bad has happened somewhere and they can think of someone that isn’t around them and inexplicably know how they are feeling. They can touch an object and feel the person who owned it. I’m certain that I am a combination of both empath and clairsentient. TV and movies have made these traits seem otherworldly and even “spooky” but the truth is, everyone has some level of these abilities. We are all born with gut instincts and intuition. But as we get older and more distracted we are conditioned to not pay attention to what we intuitively feel. This is unfortunate because it could definitely assist us in making better decisions and even help keep us safe.
Over the past two years first with the loss of my father in 2014 and the passing of my mother in hospice in my home this April, I seemed to have “opened up” more to this level of consciousness. I am very aware of their energy around me and this has changed how I view many things in my life now. As I mentioned before, in June I decided to pursue training to become a Reiki practitioner. If you aren’t familiar, Reiki is an ancient Japanese laying-on of hands healing technique that uses the life force energy to heal, balancing the subtle energies within our bodies. Reiki addresses physical, emotional, mental and spiritual imbalances. I felt that this was a natural practice for me. If I’m going to have these metaphysical abilities I certainly want to use them to help people. And after years of intuitively feeling the pain and emotional states of other people, I know I can also assist in making them feel better. This is not a religion or medical practice. It doesn’t require the client to “believe in” anything however being open and receptive will certainly help the flow of energy. I also truly believe that many “physical” ailments that we suffer from are often caused by emotional stressors and things we are holding onto in our hearts and spirits. I’m finding that my intuitive knowledge of a person’s well-being combined with Reiki can help people heal themselves.
After I received my Reiki attunement from my teacher in June, I felt an immediate surge of heat in my head, heart, and hands. Since then I have found myself more in tune and aware. People seem louder and more intense. Best of all my life purpose is finally clear to me. I’ve been connecting with people through music and song for over a decade now. This is naturally the next step for me. My teacher said she feels that I have the ability to be the bridge between dark and light. That I have a great understanding of the pain and darkness but also the ability to guide people to healing and light. This is my intention. The journey begins….
*names were changed for confidentiality