For as long as I can remember, I’ve been highly in-tune with other people’s feelings. A manager once told me “I think you feel the emotions of other people in the room before they’re even aware they’re having them.” Yep. That’s probably the most acute and succinct outside assessment I’ve ever heard of my experience with empathy.
It’s only in the past couple of years I’ve come to learn more about what it means to be a so-called “empath” (before, I just experienced it; I didn’t understand it or even have words for it, and it was often completely overwhelming). Last year, I started working with a Reiki practitioner, learning about energy and chakras, and it’s been an incredibly enlightening experience from the outset. The first time I experienced Reiki (or energy work), I was in the deepest, darkest place I’ve ever been. I was so consumed with depression and anxiety, I could hardly function. I showed up to the practitioner’s office sobbing, almost unable to tell her about my situation and circumstances. Honestly, I thought perhaps the whole “energy alignment” thing was a hoax (and I told her this upfront), but I was desperate for anything that might help me overcome my unspeakable sadness. She put her hands on me, and I immediately felt a sense of calm and peace like nothing I’d experienced in months. She told me in all her years of practicing energy work (she’s a Harvard PhD, by the way), she’d never seen Reiki impact someone so immediately and so drastically. My continued work with her in the months that followed changed my life. She not only helped me to come out of the depths of my depression, but she also helped me to come to terms with and better understand my experience in the social world, being someone who is extremely sensitive to other people’s moods and energies.
People say that Sedona is a magical place, filled with “spiritual votexes” (they insist on calling them vortexes instead of vortices, which is the grammatically-accurate plural form of “vortex”). These spaces are said to have distinct and powerful magnetic energies that can amplify feelings and even shift emotions in significant ways. I mostly thought this was pretty hoax-y, though I do believe my Reiki practitioner has spoken of visiting Sedona and experiencing the energy fields herself… I wanted to visit the place not because of its renowned energy fields but because of the sheer beauty and natural magic of its red rock cliffs. But I also figured that as sensitive as I am to the energies of people, I’d be a likely candidate for feeling the supposed energy fields of Sedona. I only visited one of the vortices…and I felt nothing significant at all. Still I left the area feeling a sense of calm I haven’t yet experienced fully on my journey.
When I’ve fretted about what I’m supposed to be getting out of my trip, girlfriends have encouraged me to let go of worry (easier said than done) and just be present in my experiences and the beauty of my surroundings. I’ve tried so hard to do that, often just working myself into more of a tizzy with the effort. But something…shifted for me in Sedona. I returned to Mindy’s calmer than I was before…and I can’t help but hope this sense of just being okay sticks with me.
I’m not sure if it was a true spiritual shift or something simpler (like just having a good experience with a new friend and finding a good camping space close to town and relatively easily), but if this is what it’s like to tune into the energy of a space the way I’ve always tuned into the energies of people (inadvertently), then it’s time for me to start paying more attention and seeking out the most fulfilling and positively-energized spaces possible. Intentionally.